Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

ESPN: For Boise State, It's Time To Dominate

In this week's ESPN Insider piece, Brian Fremeau discusses Boise State's "schedule gap," how much less difficult it is than those of other BCS title contenders, and how much the Broncos need to dominate their remaining schedule to have a chance at the national title game.

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7 comments, Last at 24 Sep 2010, 4:04pm

1 Separating out the issues

I think part of the issue here is that you're blending an estimate of team quality with an estimate of schedule difficulty.

For comparison's sake, what would the odds of BOISE going undefeated with Oregon's schedule be? Alabama's? Texas's? etc? And how many times over and over again would they need to play their own slate to "even the odds"?

2 Re: ESPN: For Boise State, It's Time To Dominate

And, if possible, factor in the gauntlet issue of something like "at Arkansas, versus Florida, at South Carolina" in a consecutive three-week stretch that's going to leave a mark.

What percentage of the time have top 15 teams in the past survived top 15 gauntlets like that (approximating) with two out of three games on the road?

3 re: "Gauntlet"

I'm actually quite curious about this: is there any supporting evidence that suggests that having a bunch of tough games consecutively is meaningfully tougher than having them spread apart? And if there is, how much of a difficulty boost is there?

5 re: "Gauntlet"

This is definitely something I want to research. I'll try to figure something out for next week or another FEI column some point this season.

4 Re: ESPN: For Boise State, It's Time To Dominate

Would be interested to see if BF and BC had a way to shed light on that with their methodology. It's definitely something some successful bettors have been using across the spectrum. Can be particularly valuable when an undersized crappy team runs out of gas after a couple of physical games. Obviously, many marquee upsets can be linked to a flat spot after a big game or a big sequence.

From where I sit, it's indisputable. But, I've been wrong before (lol).

Just in terms of thinking through the process, I think it's difficult to suggest it wouldn't be. We know, for example, that teams like Texas and OU try to schedule manageable games or byes before/after each other. I think if you asked players/coaches, nobody would say "no problem, we barely feel the effects at all of playing very physical games against top competition."

Would be interesting to see a more comprehensive study. Not sure if the database of the FO guys going back is well suited or not to that kind of research project.

For me, using indicator stats to get a sense of fatigue is something that's made sense in all sports (NBA teams playing 4 games in 5 nights...NFL teams playing three straight divisional games, young MLB pitchers moving past previous IP marks in the latter fourth of the season, stuff like that). Definitely believe it's a real influence in college football. Not something that can't be overcome. But, something that must be overcome when it presents itself if you want to run the table.

6 Re: ESPN: For Boise State, It's Time To Dominate

I don't know, when I read something like that all I can think is "why did we get rid of MOV in the BCS again? Especially when we're trying to get by with some crappy approximation of it?"