by Brian Fremeau
This weekend’s Iron Bowl is the biggest game of the weekend, and it has the potential to be the most important game of the season. The Crimson Tide and Tigers are both ranked in the top 4 of the BCS standings and the winner will claim the SEC West division crown, a title that has punched a ticket to the BCS championship game in each of the last four seasons.
Auburn’s return to the national spotlight after a disastrous 2012 has been one of the most remarkable stories of this season. They’ve seized on a bit of good fortune along the way, but they are certainly capable of taking down Alabama. The Tigers have top-20 rankings in Offensive FEI, Defensive FEI, and Special Teams Efficiency, a profile only three other teams can claim -– Ohio State, Stanford, and Alabama.
The Crimson Tide are in position to claim a third-straight BCS championship game berth and a potential fourth national title in five years. Their defense hasn’t been quite as dominant as recent Alabama title teams, and the offense hasn’t been quite as efficient, though both have been strong. Alabama’s special teams have been off the charts in terms of production and efficiency, and that unit has separated the Crimson Tide from the pack this year.
Alabama currently ranks in the top 10 in all five of our special teams efficiency splits categories -– punting, kickoffs, punt returns, kickoff returns, and field goal efficiency. Since 2007, no team has ranked in the top 10 at the end of the year in more than three of those five categories. The 2008 Ohio State Buckyes, 2008 LSU Tigers, 2011 Florida State Seminoles, and 2011 Boise State Broncos are the only four teams in the last six years to rank in the top 10 in three of our special teams efficiency categories.
In fact, since the start of the 2007 season, only two teams have ranked in the top 40 of all five special teams efficiency categories -– the 2009 LSU Tigers and the 2007 Virginia Tech Hokies. Alabama’s special teams production so far in 2013 is more than three standard deviations better than an average team. The 2009 LSU and 2007 Virginia Tech teams that featured strong special teams paired those with mediocre offenses. Alabama has the total package in 2013.
FEI Week 13 Top 25
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The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) rewards playing well against good teams, win or lose, and punishes losing to poor teams more harshly than it rewards defeating poor teams. FEI is drive-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. FEI represents a team's efficiency value over average.
- SOS Pvs: Strength of schedule based on the likelihood of an elite team going undefeated against the given team's schedule to date.
- SOS Fut: Strength of schedule based on the likelihood of an elite team going undefeated against the given team's remaining schedule.
- FBS MW: Mean Wins, the average number of games a team with the given FEI rating would be expected to win against its entire schedule.
- FBS RMW: Remaining Mean Wins, the average number of games a team with the given FEI rating would be expected to win against its remaining schedule.
- OFEI: Offensive FEI, the opponent-adjusted efficiency of the given team's offense.
- DFEI: Defensive FEI, the opponent-adjusted efficiency of the given team's defense.
- STE: Special Teams Efficiency, the composite efficiency of the given team's special teams units - field goals, punt returns, kickoff returns, punts, and kickoffs.
- FPA: Field Position Advantage, the share of the value of total starting field position earned by each team against its opponents.
These FEI ratings are a function of results of games played through November 23rd. The ratings for all FBS teams can be found here. Program FEI (five-year weighted) ratings and other supplemental drive-based data can be found here.