Week 1 FEI Ratings

Week 1 FEI Ratings
Week 1 FEI Ratings
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Brian Fremeau

A great deal of deserved attention has been paid to Boise State and BYU for crashing the opening weekend of the 2009 college football season. The "have-nots" had their way with the "haves," defeating Oregon and Oklahoma, respectively, in marquee games in front of national audiences. In turn, the Broncos and Cougars not only passed their first major tests of the season, but they each also knocked off the biggest obstacle standing in the way of an undefeated campaign. More on that later.

First, let's have a big round of applause for the "have-nothings." Before defeating Eastern Michigan last weekend, the Black Knights of Army (No. 105 Program FEI) hadn't won an opening game since 1996 -- the year of their last winning record. Idaho (No. 119 Program FEI) had notched exactly one Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) victory in the past two seasons before knocking off New Mexico State on Saturday. And before defeating Ball State 20-10 Thursday, North Texas (No. 120 Program FEI) hadn't held an opponent under 20 points since 2007 -- in fact, they only held two opponents under 40 points all of last year.

Not only were all three victorious over the weekend, they each won by double digits on the road. Based on Projected Win Expectations (PWE) prior to the game, the likelihood that all three would win last weekend was a mere 1.4 percent. FEI projected a combined 10.6 wins for Army, Idaho and North Texas this season. Now with one win a piece, the lowliest of the low can begin to imagine greater --though still modest -- possibilities.

As for BYU, Boise State, and any others dreaming of a national championship run, we don't have to rely on our imaginations. Based on current FEI ratings and PWE, we can calculate the likelihood of victory for each team in each remaining scheduled matchup. Better yet, we can use the game-by-game PWEs to calculate the probability that each team will finish the regular season with a certain number of wins and losses. Table 1 represents the season projections for all teams with a better-than 50 percent chance of finishing with two or fewer losses at season's end.

FEI Rank Team Projected Mean Wins Updated Mean Wins 0 Loss 1 Loss 2 Loss Other
1 Florida 11.1 11.3 0.495 0.367 0.115 0.023
2 Texas 10.6 10.4 0.163 0.344 0.301 0.192
3 USC 10.3 9.7 0.070 0.224 0.308 0.398
4 Alabama 8.7 10.2 0.114 0.305 0.327 0.254
6 Ohio State 9.5 9.8 0.062 0.221 0.321 0.396
10 West Virginia 9.6 9.8 0.075 0.235 0.311 0.379
13 Penn State 9.1 9.8 0.058 0.220 0.328 0.395
18 BYU 8.5 10.4 0.155 0.352 0.312 0.181
23 Utah 9.4 9.7 0.056 0.214 0.322 0.407
24 Boise State 10.7 10.8 0.251 0.392 0.251 0.106

Both BYU and Alabama improved their mean win projections by at least 1.5 games following victories Saturday night over teams with lofty FEI projections. After toppling the Sooners, the Cougars are now the fourth most likely team to remain undefeated and the third most likely team to reach double-digit victories. Boise State has a 1-in-4 chance of remaining undefeated, second only to No. 1 Florida's nearly 1-in-2 chance. After only one week, the odds are reasonable that another non-BCS team will punch its ticket to a BCS game. Whether it will be enough to make a serious run at the BCS title game remains to be seen.

What To Watch For

Navy almost pulled off the biggest shocker of the weekend before Ohio State corner Brian Rolle intercepted a pass on a 2-point conversion that would have tied the game and returned it 100 yards to secure the Bukeyes' lead. The famed Midshipmen triple-option attack added an aerial dimension to an already pesky -- and from an efficiency perspective, potent -- offense, chipping away and misdirecting the Buckeyes' focus through most of the contest. It doesn't always result in victory, but Navy has had a knack for causing fits for more talented teams, so the result shouldn't have been completely unexpected.

What was unexpected was how Ohio State was unable to capitalize on a significant field position advantage. Navy's average starting field position was its own 25-yard line, and it began two drives at or inside its own 5-yard line. As Tressel teams have been known to do, the Buckeyes started their drives on average nearly 20 yards closer to the end zone than Navy. By expected scoring from field position alone, Ohio State earned a full touchdown advantage in the game.

Field Position Advantage (FPA) is the measure of each team's share of field position scoring opportunities over the course of a game. Teams with an FPA over .500 win 60 percent of the time. Teams with an FPA over .600 win 90 percent of the time. The Buckeyes have never lost a game with an FPA over .600 under Tressel's leadership, going a perfect 21-0. Against Navy, the Buckeyes' FPA was 0.591.

Sure, a win's a win, but dominant field position should translate to domination on the scoreboard -- especially when the talent levels are tilted so heavily in the same direction. Ohio State will need to build a similar field position advantage against USC in order to keep it close. USC's stocked backfield should be plenty capable of moving the ball from anywhere. If Ohio State can't make the most of its favorable opportunities, they won't have a chance to win the game.

Week 1 FEI Top 25

The principles of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) can be found here. Like DVOA, FEI rewards playing well against good teams, win or lose, and punishes losing to poor teams more harshly than it rewards defeating poor teams. Unlike DVOA, it is drive-based, not play-by-play based, and it is specifically engineered to measure the college game.

FEI is the opponent-adjusted value of Game Efficiency (GE), a measurement of the success rate of a team scoring and preventing opponent scoring throughout the non-garbage-time possessions of a game. Like DVOA, it represents a team's efficiency value over average. Strength of Schedule (SOS) is calculated as the likelihood that an elite team would win every game on the given team's schedule.

Only games between FBS teams are considered in the FEI calculations. Since limited data is available at the beginning of the season, the ratings to date are a function of both actual games played and projected outcomes based on the 2009 Projected FEI Ratings. The weight given to projected outcomes will be reduced each week until mid-October, at which point the projections will be eliminated entirely.

Rank Team FBS Record FEI Last Week GE GE Rank SOS SOS Rank
1 Florida 0-0 0.341 1 n/a n/a 0.294 47
2 Texas 1-0 0.234 3 0.455 7 0.328 54
3 USC 1-0 0.207 2 0.446 8 0.274 38
4 Alabama 1-0 0.205 13 0.095 31 0.243 26
5 Virginia Tech 0-1 0.200 4 -0.095 50 0.228 20
6 Ohio State 1-0 0.195 8 0.057 35 0.256 29
7 Oklahoma 0-1 0.184 5 -0.011 41 0.215 16
8 Georgia Tech 0-0 0.180 9 n/a n/a 0.225 18
9 LSU 1-0 0.179 7 0.214 22 0.098 7
10 West Virginia 0-0 0.173 12 n/a n/a 0.429 73
11 Auburn 1-0 0.169 10 0.243 16 0.210 14
12 Boston College 0-0 0.166 14 n/a n/a 0.266 35
Rank Team FBS Record FEI Last Week GE GE Rank SOS SOS Rank
13 Penn State 1-0 0.164 18 0.312 13 0.366 60
14 Oklahoma State 1-0 0.157 24 0.182 25 0.234 22
15 Georgia 0-1 0.152 6 -0.182 56 0.066 1
16 Clemson 1-0 0.148 11 0.235 17 0.276 40
17 Notre Dame 1-0 0.145 17 0.769 1 0.251 27
18 BYU 1-0 0.144 36 0.011 40 0.442 76
19 Michigan 1-0 0.128 20 0.466 6 0.274 37
20 California 1-0 0.123 15 0.435 10 0.367 61
21 Arkansas 0-0 0.117 21 n/a n/a 0.086 4
22 Iowa 0-0 0.116 22 n/a n/a 0.287 44
23 Utah 1-0 0.116 32 0.190 24 0.533 92
24 Boise State 1-0 0.109 39 0.126 28 0.682 115
25 Texas Tech 0-0 0.098 25 n/a n/a 0.260 33

Ratings for all 120 FBS teams can be found here.


3 comments, Last at 09 Sep 2009, 4:20pm

1 Re: Week 1 FEI Ratings

I've seen your FEI numbers before, but this is the first time I've seen how you do SOS. That's really an interesting method that takes care of the problem other rankings of SOS might have (that one or two highly ranked or lowly ranked teams might skew the overall SOS more than they should).

The number is also immediately descriptive. I don't really know what having the #1 most difficult schedule means, except that it's the most difficult. Seeing that an elite team would only have a 6.6% chance of going undefeated with Georgia's schedule, I understand why all the good ACC teams seem to end up around 8-4.

In Wisconsin, they're considering a plan to change the high school football in a way that would put the dividing up of conferences under the authority of the WIAA. The plan would guarantee that all division 1 schools play 7 games against other division 1 schools. I doubt the NCAA even has the authority to do something like that, but it would sure be interesting.

2 Re: Week 1 FEI Ratings

Thanks for this information, it is very hard ot find such information in the internet.

3 Re: Week 1 FEI Ratings

Let's give a cheer for U of NT
Cheer for the Green and White!
Victory's in store,
Whate'er the score,
Our teams will ever
Fight, fight, fight!
Shoulder to shoulder
We march along,
Striving for victory.
Playing the game for the honor
And fame and glory of UNT!
U... N... T... Eagles!
U-N-T Eagles!
Fight! Fight! Fight!