Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Nov 2010

Varsity Numbers: I Am

by Bill Connelly

No. 1 Oregon tried to lose in Berkeley. No. 2 Auburn tried (for a while) to lose to a 5-5 Georgia squad. No. 3 TCU tried to lose to San Diego State. We came close to BCS Armageddon on Saturday, but in the end we only had near-upsets, a Notre Dame demolition of Utah, another (yawn) Northwestern upset of Iowa, and a whipping of Steve Spurrier's old team by Steve Spurrier's new team. Saturday could have been complete chaos, but instead it was just another enjoyable Saturday in what has been a fun season.

Box Score of the Week

Subtitle: How Oregon Fell Behind Notre Dame in the S&P+ Rankings Just to Taunt Bill Connelly

You remember the series of "I am Jack's ..." quotes from Fight Club? "I am Jack's inflamed sense of rejection." ... "I am Jack's complete lack of surprise." ... "I am Jack's smirking revenge." ... "I am Jack's cold sweat." These quotes were ringing a bit too true as I watched Oregon play California Saturday night, knowing exactly what was going to happen. Oregon has become the ultimate play-by-play oddity in 2010, looking like a Top 30 team until the 50-plus play mark, when they turn into the best team in the country.

UCLA, Portland State, and New Mexico games aside, they have taunted me all season with their ability to play down to their level of competition just long enough to hurt their S&P+ rankings, then throw it in fifth gear and make their low S&P+ rankings look silly by the end of the game. Even though I tremendously enjoy watching the Ducks play each Saturday, I have found myself either rooting for them to win by 72 so they could move closer to the top of the S&P+, or to just go ahead and lose so I can stop thinking about them. No dice.

On Saturday, Oregon was outmuscled in the trenches and made just enough mistakes to hand California an upset win. Instead, the Bears missed a field goal to start the fourth quarter, and the Ducks killed the final 9:25 of the clock with a wonderful drive full of skin-of-their-teeth third-down conversions. They earned the win, to be sure, but against a team that had gotten mauled by Oregon State and barely sneaked by Washington State in the last two weeks. They also earned another drop in the rankings. The Ducks now rank below Illinois and Notre Dame. And Oregon State, who did just lose to Washington State.

I am Bill's credibility check.

No. 1 Oregon 15, California 13

Oregon Cal Oregon Cal
Close % 100.0% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 44.1% 20.3% Success Rate 42.0% 30.6%
Leverage % 59.5% 61.0% PPP 0.21 0.16
S&P 0.629 0.469
TOTAL
EqPts 16.5 10.1 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 32.1% 30.5% Success Rate 17.7% 30.4%
Close PPP 0.20 0.17 PPP 0.18 0.18
Close S&P 0.518 0.476 S&P 0.355 0.486
RUSHING TURNOVERS
EqPts 8.0 7.5 Number 1 1
Close Success Rate 37.7% 40.0% Turnover Pts 6.9 2.4
Close PPP 0.15 0.25 Turnover Pts Margin -4.5 +4.5
Close S&P 0.529 0.650
Line Yards/carry 2.65 2.82 Q1 S&P 0.329 0.828
Q2 S&P 0.484 0.110
PASSING Q3 S&P 0.691 0.564
EqPts 8.5 2.5 Q4 S&P 0.520 0.389
Close Success Rate 22.6% 20.7%
Close PPP 0.27 0.09 1st Down S&P 0.564 0.373
Close S&P 0.499 0.295 2nd Down S&P 0.272 0.636
SD/PD Sack Rate 14.3% / 0.0% 0.0% / 6.3% 3rd Down S&P 0.670 0.413
Projected Pt. Margin: Oregon +1.9 | Actual Pt. Margin: Oregon +2

This was a wonderful performance by a Cal defense that has mostly held steady in 2010 despite offensive injuries and occasional overall ineptitude. The Golden Bears' defense rose from 29th to 10th this week in the Defensive S&P+ rankings after holding the Ducks to a 0.529 S&P on the ground and 0.499 S&P in the air. Oregon running backs LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner had rushed for just 71 yards on 23 carries heading into the Ducks' gargantuan final drive, when they powered for 60 yards on 14 clock-eating rushes. California never allowed them to get truly hot -- their best quarter was the third, when they managed just a 0.691 S&P.

Unfortunately for the Golden Bears, the Cal offense couldn't respond with too many big plays on their end. After Shane Vereen's 31-yard run on Cal's second offensive play, they gained just 162 yards the rest of the way. Cal quarterback Brock Mansion averaged 2.5 yards per pass, and an offense that was far from spectacular with now-injured quarterback Kevin Riley continues to struggle without him. Thanks to a solid effort, Oregon's defense rose from 34th in Defensive S&P+ to 28th, but that did not entirely balance out the ratings hit their offense took.

I am Bill's statistical oddity.

So what am I going to do about Oregon's continued insistence on being the bane of S&P+'s existence? Nothing. At least, not yet. This is a play-by-play measure, and it isn't necessarily the formula's fault that Oregon has found a way to win that almost disregards half of the plays from a given game. If they move on to win the national title -- if they've truly figured out a way to "beat" the S&P+ formula -- then I will be tinkering with alternatives for most of the offseason. (Even then, however, any changes will be conservative. As Ken Pomeroy mentioned to me a while back, it is never smart to make huge changes because of a single team.)

But at the moment, the S&P+ rankings are at least semi-consistent. Oregon has only beaten one team ahead of them in the rankings (No. 10 Stanford), and their other wins have come against No. 28 (USC), No. 44 (UCLA), No. 45 (Arizona State), No. 47 (Washington), No. 48 (California), No. 70 (Tennessee), No. 90 (Washington State), No. 119 (New Mexico), and an FCS Tier 6 team (Portland State). That is two wins against Top 40 teams balanced by a series of good-not-great wins over decent teams. All season, I've just been saying "Let's see how this plays out." Now, as the season has mostly played out, my only response is ... let's see how this plays out.

I am Bill's deep, heavy sigh.

Ten Notable Games

Whereas last week's projected scores were all over the place, most of this week's major games stayed close to the script.

No. 2 Auburn 49, Georgia 31

EqPts: Auburn 36.0, Georgia 24.3
T/O Pts: Georgia +2.2
Auburn > Georgia +13.9

Ignoring the Cam Newton-sized elephant in the room, Auburn pulled away from the Bulldogs in the second half of a feisty battle. Georgia has the (dis)honor of being the only sub-.500 team among the top 43 teams in S&P+, and Auburn winning was still a decent accomplishment. But with all that hangs over Auburn right now, we'll see how much this win means (or if it is a win) when the NCAA -- and FBI -- are through investigating the attempted dealings of Newton's father.

No. 3 TCU 40, San Diego State 35

EqPts: TCU 33.6, San Diego State 19.7
T/O Pts: San Diego State +2.2
TCU > San Diego State +11.8

This one was closer than it probably should have been, but kudos to San Diego State for putting up another strong fight against a bigger-name, home opponent. The Aztecs are now 7-3 with road losses to Missouri (via last-second miracle pass), BYU (via a horrid replay) and TCU. Brady Hoke is working wonders in southern California.

No. 6 Stanford 17, Arizona State 13

EqPts: Stanford 21.1, Arizona State 14.7
T/O Pts: Arizona State +1.6
Stanford > Arizona State +4.8

Four of Arizona State's six losses have come by a combined nine points to Wisconsin, Oregon State, USC, and Stanford. They have no quality wins and a host of quality losses, and it will be interesting to see just how hot Dennis Erickson's seat gets in the next month or so, especially if ASU doesn't go at least 1-1 against UCLA and Arizona.

No. 7 Wisconsin 83, Indiana 20

EqPts: Wisconsin 52.3, Indiana 15.7
T/O Pts: Wisconsin +12.8
Wisconsin > Indiana +48.3

This is already well-covered territory, but ... seriously, Bret Bielema? Going deep after you've already scored 69 points? I know, I know, backup quarterback, scrub receiver, etc. But a play-action bomb has one intention no matter who is in, and that was crass even by my own relatively low "running it up" standards.

No. 8 Nebraska 20, Kansas 3

EqPts: Nebraska 20.7, Kansas 2.5
T/O Pts: Kansas +6.4
Nebraska > Kansas +11.8

Nebraska is a bit lucky that they only fell four spots after this sleep-walking episode. The Huskers' offense can clearly rise to the occasion when they need to -- they scored 51 points against an Oklahoma State defense that ranks 34th in Defensive S&P+ and 31 against Missouri (26th). But they also scored a combined 37 points against South Dakota State and Kansas. We'll see if now-healthy Taylor Martinez, Roy Helu, and company can bring their A-game to College Station this weekend.

No. 10 Oklahoma State 33, Texas 16

EqPts: Oklahoma State 31.9, Texas 16.1
T/O Pts: Texas +0.1
Oklahoma State > Texas +15.7

Yes, Texas' offense is an incredible mess right now, but Oklahoma State rose in the S&P+ rankings this week by slicing and dicing a Texas defense that was ranked fifth in Defensive S&P+ (now eighth). They head to Lawrence this weekend and attempt to avoid a landmine while gearing up for one of the bigger Bedlam battles in years two weeks from now.

No. 12 Alabama 30, No. 19 Mississippi State 10

EqPts: Alabama 25.4, Mississippi State 11.7
T/O Pts: Mississippi State +1.8
Alabama > Mississippi State +11.9

Alabama did a majority of their damage in three plays -- a 45-yard pass from Greg McElroy to Marquis Maze, a 78-yard pass from McElroy to Mark Ingram, and a 56-yard reverse to Julio Jones -- but it was enough. Mississippi State is salty and stout, but their offense still is not to the point of being able to pull a road upset like this.

Northwestern 21, No. 13 Iowa 17

EqPts: Northwestern 22.2, Iowa 18.6
T/O Pts: Iowa +0.6
Northwestern > Iowa +3.0

Despite finishing with a better record each season, Iowa has managed to lose to Northwestern three consecutive seasons now. This is one of the things that makes college football so enjoyable. For all intents and purposes, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz owns Penn State's Joe Paterno ... and Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald owns Ferentz.

Notre Dame 28, No. 14 Utah 3

EqPts: Notre Dame 16.9, Utah 11.3
T/O Pts: Notre Dame +8.6
Notre Dame > Utah +14.2

Due as much to strength of schedule as anything else, Notre Dame's defense ranked 13th in Defensive S&P+ heading into the Utah game, and they finally earned their keep with a dominant game against a Utah team that is suddenly reeling. Last week, I said that this game would be determined as much by the mental state of each team as any on-field talent or level of accomplishment. This appears to have been the case -- the Irish were far from explosive on offense, but they took advantage of just about every Utah mistake while the Utes crumbled.

No. 23 South Carolina 36, No. 22 Florida 14

EqPts: South Carolina 26.3, Florida 9.5
T/O Pts: South Carolina +11.0
South Carolina > Florida +27.8

This was an incredibly dominant performance by the Gamecocks. They are such a different team when Marcus Lattimore is healthy and running well. They are 5-1 when he averages 4.0 yards per carry and 3-2 when he either averages fewer than 4.0 per carry or doesn't play. Congrats to Steve Spurrier -- he almost seemed happier and more animated Saturday night than when he was winning the national title 14 years ago.

S&P+

Full rankings here:

S&P+ Top 25 (After 11 Weeks)
RK TEAM RECORD S&P+ LAST
WK
CHANGE OFF.
S&P+
RK DEF.
S&P+
RK
1 Boise State 9-0 285.5 1 +0 136.1 3 136.5 1
2 TCU 11-0 271.8 3 +1 120.0 17 136.0 2
3 Ohio State 9-1 270.5 2 -1 127.4 4 127.6 3
4 Alabama 8-2 266.3 4 +0 137.6 2 117.7 13
5 Auburn 11-0 259.0 5 +0 149.8 1 100.3 54
6 Miami 7-3 249.6 8 +2 109.9 33 125.4 4
7 Iowa 7-3 248.5 6 -1 110.3 32 120.5 7
8 Oklahoma State 9-1 247.9 10 +2 126.8 5 109.4 34
9 Arkansas 8-2 247.8 9 +0 124.4 8 114.0 18
10 Stanford 9-1 246.8 7 -3 125.3 7 110.6 29
S&P+ Top 25 (After 11 Weeks)
RK TEAM RECORD S&P+ LAST
WK
CHANGE OFF.
S&P+
RK DEF.
S&P+
RK
11 South Carolina 7-3 245.8 11 +0 120.5 16 122.2 5
12 Missouri 8-2 245.7 12 +0 123.3 9 111.7 26
13 Virginia Tech 8-2 241.6 15 +2 118.6 19 113.6 19
14 Oregon State 4-5 239.2 14 +0 122.2 11 106.6 37
15 Oklahoma 8-2 239.0 16 +1 116.0 23 113.3 21
16 Wisconsin 9-1 239.0 17 +1 120.7 15 108.9 35
17 Nebraska 9-1 237.2 13 -4 110.6 30 113.4 20
18 Michigan State 9-1 236.3 22 +4 116.4 22 110.9 27
19 Pittsburgh 5-4 235.2 19 +0 121.6 12 104.7 44
20 Florida State 7-3 234.4 23 +3 119.8 18 105.7 41
S&P+ Top 25 (After 11 Weeks)
RK TEAM RECORD S&P+ LAST
WK
CHANGE OFF.
S&P+
RK DEF.
S&P+
RK
21 Hawaii 7-3 234.4 26 +5 122.3 10 106.5 38
22 Notre Dame 5-5 234.2 32 +10 111.0 29 118.5 11
23 Illinois 5-5 233.2 21 -2 99.6 62 119.7 9
24 Oregon 10-0 232.2 20 -4 112.4 26 110.7 28
25 Utah 8-2 232.0 18 -7 107.1 36 113.1 23

How odd a year has it been for both college football and these rankings? Illinois loses to Minnesota and Oregon State loses to Washington State ... and neither team drops more than two spots. I have no explanation for this. As I said above, I will revisit the formulas this offseason. In the meantime, just enjoy the absurdity.

Biggest S&P+ Movers of the Week

Rises

Florida International (14 spots, from 82nd to 68th). The Golden Panthers were competitive in three of four losses to BCS conference teams in September -- they lost by two touchdowns or less to Maryland, Texas A&M, and Rutgers before sliding a bit against Pittsburgh. Teams with brutal schedules either toughen up when the schedule gets easier, or they fall apart from wear and tear. FIU has done the former. They are now 4-1 and control their own destiny in the Sun Belt conference. Thanks to their shocking 52-35 win over Troy this weekend, they can now go 2-1 in their final three conference games -- against La.-Lafayette, Arkansas State and a disappointing Middle Tennessee squad -- and head to the New Orleans Bowl. What an accomplishment for FIU and coach Mario Cristobal. This program was pathetic not too long ago.

Notre Dame (10 spots, from 32nd to 22nd). They rose into the Top 25 powered by a dominant performance over Utah and a solid strength of schedule. They rose a couple of extra spots just so they could get ahead of Oregon and make me look silly.

Maryland (seven spots, from 64th to 57th). The Terps are a half-game behind Florida State in the ACC Atlantic race, and they play host to FSU and N.C. State to end the season. If they win out (a big if -- they probably won't be favored in either game), they will win the Atlantic and finish off a seven-game turnaround from last season. If they lose out ... Well, they have already improved by a jarring five games.

Washington State (seven spots, from 97th to 90th). You could see them getting more and more competitive as the season progressed. And even though Oregon State is not the same team without James Rodgers, their 31-14 win in Corvallis was still both impressive and heart-warming. Who knows if Paul Wulff can actually completely turn things around in Pullman, but after two desolate seasons, they have clearly improved in Wulff's third year.

Other Rises: San Diego State (72nd to 65th), Connecticut (76th to 70th), Navy (61st to 55th), Northern Illinois (67th to 61st), San Jose State (106th to 100th), Southern Miss (79th to 73rd).

Notable Tumbles

Iowa State (10 spots, from 62nd to 72nd). Like Illinois to Minnesota and the Giants to the Cowboys, Iowa State fell victim to a bad team playing hard for an interim coach. The Cyclones got pushed around by Colorado in Boulder and now must beat Missouri in Ames to reach bowl eligibility. Paul Rhoads has shown a knack for big upsets -- he still has a way to go in the consistency department.

South Florida (nine spots, from 54th to 63rd). The Bulls actually won in Louisville to keep pace in the hilarious Big East race, but they fell regardless. Why? Because they were outgained significantly by the Cardinals (21.0 EqPts to 12.2) and won because of a slight turnover advantage and a 100-yard kickoff return.

Utah (seven spots, from 18th to 25th). The final two games for the reeling Utes: A trip to San Diego State and the final conference battle against a surging BYU squad. Two games is not really a "losing streak" by any means, but this could become a streak if they do not bounce back quickly.

Michigan (seven spots, from 31st to 38th). The Wolverines did the bare minimum in beating a Purdue team that had lost its three previous conference game by an average score of 42-8. This game was U-G-L-Y -- 10 turnovers (six lost fumbles), nine penalties, 13 punts.

Other Tumbles: Houston (66th to 81st), Wyoming (90th to 97th), Purdue (89th to 96th), Marshall (71st to 78th), Temple (69th to 75th).

Favorite Moment of the Weekend

The final play of the first half in the Texas A&M-Baylor game Saturday night was the rare Triple Holy S--- play. Already up 30-21, Baylor lined up for a 41-yard field goal, but it was blocked (Holy S--- No. 1, albeit a minor one). Cornerback Terrence Frederick recovered it and seemed to be hemmed in by Baylor players, then cut left and into the open field (Holy S--- No. 2). It looked like he was going to somehow score as the clock expired ... until Baylor holder Brody Trahan (great name) somehow caught up to him and pushed him out of bounds at the one-yard line (Holy S--- No. 3). Granted, instead of becoming a huge momentum play for the improved Bears, it just staved off the inevitable -- the Aggies outscored Baylor 21-0 in the second half and won going away. But still, in an entertaining evening of football, that was the high point.

Posted by: Bill Connelly on 16 Nov 2010

12 comments, Last at 18 Nov 2010, 5:07pm by Bill Connelly

Comments

1
by bsharp :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 6:27pm

I guess if a one loss SEC team doesn't make the top 25, it probably means we have looked as ugly as I thought we did in our 9 victories. Or maybe that just means WVU, Moo U, UF, and UNC aren't as good as I thought.

2
by Bill Connelly :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 7:17pm

Yeah, if not for the ongoing Oregon issue, I'd be spending more time looking at LSU. But their issues are a little easier to understand -- they've seemingly perfected the art of a) doing the bare minimum and b) looking awful (statistically and aesthetically) while winning. They're winning, obviously, so they deserve credit for that, but ...

3
by Turin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 8:17pm

In Bielema's defense, a play-action bomb with the backup QB & WR in the game probably had a lower expected gain at that point than yet another off-tackle running play (which were seemingly going for 20+ yards every time with the 3rd-string running back). WI definiately ran up the score, but for the life of me I'm not sure how they could have avoided doing so short of kneeling on the ball after halftime.

4
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 10:03pm

I am not inclined to be in the Bielema fan club (although I have enormous respect for what Alvarez, Inc. has achieved in the last two decades), but I have to cut him some slack here. I don't think I've ever seen a team from a major conference less interested in defending the run, than what I saw from the Hoosiers on Saturday. It was as if they came out in the dreary weather, and said to themselves, "Golly, this just isn't going to be any fun, AT ALL", and spent the rest of the afternoon standing around.

5
by southpaw2 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 11:20pm

I'd like to thank Versus for continuing to run their "Oregon stopwatch" graphic, even after it became beyond clear even to five year-old viewers that the Ducks were bleeding clock against a defense that could not muster a 3rd down stop. Chip Kelly may be an a**hole, but he's obviously not stupid. In any case, that was a punishing final drive. It's interesting given that Auburn ended the Kentucky game essentially the same way, and if these two do get together in a championship game, everyone will be expecting a pure shootout, but ball control may decide matters.

On the subject of Auburn, it was refreshingly honest the way CBS handled the Newton situation. Lots of times you'll see a broadcast crew agree on a party line and stick to it with very little dissent. There was a general "wait and see" stance that most of them were sticking to, but then Spencer Tillman stepped up at halftime and absolutely hammered Auburn for even letting Cam on the field. I didn't agree, but I was glad he wasn't censored just to make the SEC feel better about itself.

Personally, I'm sick of the NCAA's holier than thou stance on profiteering, given that they do quite a bit to create the situations that athletes exploit and are exploited by. If there's any way of absolving Cam I hope they do, his story and his performance this year has been inspirational.

6
by Kal :: Wed, 11/17/2010 - 12:14am

So what would mess Bill up the most in terms of an Oregon performance?

Hmm. Well, Oregon could do to Arizona what they did to UCLA, and then some.
Or they could be behind for the entire first three quarters by multiple scores and then score more than any other team has in a single quarter to obliterate Arizona.

Ooh, I know. They'll blow out Arizona with nothing but special teams play. They will have zero offensive drives in the first half and be up 29-0. S&P will rate the first half as completely null for Oregon's offense and the entire formula will implode, revealing itself to have been built on an Indian burial mound.

7
by Bill Connelly :: Wed, 11/17/2010 - 7:28am

I'm okay with any and all of these scenarios.

8
by Scott C :: Wed, 11/17/2010 - 5:54pm

Oregon and Cal:

"They earned the win, to be sure, but against a team that had gotten mauled by Oregon State and barely sneaked by Washington State in the last two weeks."

You are forgetting one huge thing. Cal is NOT the same team home and away. If your algorithm for S&P+ doesn't take that into account, its flawed.

I'm not sure how best to measure it or its variance/uncertainty, but Cal's home/away performance difference is no statistical fluke at this point.

Watching them play each week I'm confident they will have a very good defensive effort at home and much fewer offensive blunders. From a mental error standpoint there are two teams.

I'm sure the Cal defense at home this year is closer to the top 3 in the nation than the #10 total ranking. The offense clearly has a big home/away split as well but that is going to be less significant than the injury at QB that has so far caused a large regression.

The next upcoming game, versus Stanford, is however only half a home game. Rivals from 40 minutes away who manage to take up 1/3 of the stadium tend to lessen a home field advantage.

9
by cfn_ms :: Wed, 11/17/2010 - 7:45pm

Whether it lessens HFA or not depends largely on whether this is an issue where Cal's fans, stadium and/or weather are driving the splits, or whether it's that they simply play really poorly whenever they hit the road. My suspicion is that it's the latter, which makes the fan distribution in the stadium and distance the other team needs to travel less of an issue.

Of course, it's also worth noting that Stanford has been a consistently strong road team (other than the 2nd half collapse @ Oregon), since if you're going to factor in home/road splits you need to do it for both sides.

10
by Scott C :: Thu, 11/18/2010 - 12:40pm

Absolutely. HFA relative to an 'average' game for each team is mad up of three factors:

The home team's ability to play on the road relative to home.
The opponent team's ability to play on the road.
The stadium / crowd factor.

In a close rival game, two of three of those may be negated, but the first is always there.

11
by Jeff Fogle :: Thu, 11/18/2010 - 2:15pm

Home field advantage is a complicated topic...so trying to generalize into just three components is ill-advised, particularly when the first component is kind of incoherent (the home team's ability to play on the road relative to home...what?). And, stadium and crowd can be two different things if the stadium has unique characteristics (swirling winds for example)...which are separate from the impact crowd size may or may not have.

Contributing factors to home field I've seen in various studies over the past couple of decades:

*Crowd size
*Uniqueness of home stadium
*Familiarity of visitors with home stadium (is this a conference game and the top players were there two years ago, or is this a non-conference game and it's completely unfamiliar? Has the coaching staff been here many times in their careers so they know how to prepare?)
*Travel distance (long trips hurt visitors performance levels more than short trips)
*Field characteristics (the tall turf at Notre Dame can slow down speed teams...fast surfaces are okay for speed teams wherever they play)
*Climate characteristics (a Northern team visiting Texas or the Southeast in a day game in September maybe dealing with 95 degree temps and humidity in a way that causes them to wear down more than usual in the second half..a Southern team playing up North in November will be trying to catch passes with numb hands...etc...)

I'm sure there are others we could come up with.

I was happy as a researcher many years ago to find the following combination of factors in the math. The world may have changed since then, so the numbers may not be as on the money as they were at the time. Felt like a cool discovery though.

*Home field was generally accepted be worth 3 points by the betting markets...and if you did the math over a large sampling you'd get something close to three (particularly in the NFL...tougher in the colleges to stabilize things because of home blowouts vs. patsies in September...if you only looked at CONFERENCE games to help stabilize the input, you'd be in the neighborhood of three).

*Turnovers were generally worth about 4 points apiece. Dick Vermeil used to say as a color announcer that fumbles were worth 5 points, and interceptions 3 points based on his own research. Same general area. If you did a study with a large sampling on what scores "should" have been based on yards-per-point...compared to ACTUAL scores as they were influenced by turnovers...you could divide out and see turnovers were worth about 4 points. Rudimentary compared to what guys are doing today...but I'm guessing it's still in that neighborhood.

*If you looked at turnovers committed by road teams versus home teams...road teams committed three-fourths of a turnover more per game typically. So, a harmonic balance that felt like discovering a new element or something. Home field is worth 3, turnovers are worth 4 apiece, and road teams committed an extra 3/4's of a turnover per game.

So...WHATEVER causes home field advantage in the big picture, it generally manifests itself in an extra 3/4's of a turnover for the visitor. Of course, those other influences mentioned above (wind, turf, etc) would get washed out in a big picture study...so there are situations where swirling winds cause more TO issues than normal for a pass-happy visitor...or tall grass slows down speedsters or something.

Would be interesting to see if the numbers from BF and BC would be generally in line with that stuff from the past...if there's a way within their process to make a determination.

12
by Bill Connelly :: Thu, 11/18/2010 - 5:07pm

Here's what I wrote about it last year on Insider: http://insider.espn.go.com/ncf/insider/news/story?id=4584893

In the 2000s, home field was worth about 3.7 points in general, but it varies dramatically by school and, probably, opponent. Plus, it's not really "home field advantage" as much as "home-road splits".