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11 Oct 2017

FEI Week 6 Ratings

by Brian Fremeau

Washington State's undefeated start to the season has been one of the more intriguing storylines in college football this year. The Cougars knocked off otherwise unbeaten USC two weeks ago, and followed it up with an impressive road victory against Oregon on Saturday. It's dangerous to look too far ahead, but the Apple Cup on November 25 against rival (and also undefeated) Washington may turn out to be one of the most significant games of the year, and might carry enormous College Football Playoff implications.

Mike Leach's teams have frequently been fun and prolific on offense, and this year's team is no exception. Quarterback Luke Falk is one of only three passers nationally who have already thrown for 2,000 yards, and his 19 touchdown passes (against only two interceptions) lead the nation. But the secret to this year's breakthrough has come on the defensive side of the ball.

Over the previous five seasons in Leach's tenure in Pullman, the Cougars defense had never ranked better than 73rd nationally in yards allowed per play. Washington State gave up more than 6 yards per play in 2016, tied for 90th nationally. Halfway through the 2017 season, the Cougars rank 13th nationally in the metric, allowing only 4.5 yards per play.

The Cougars had their strongest defensive performance of the season against Oregon last weekend, and one of the most successful defensive performances of any team this year according to raw game splits. The Ducks had 15 non-garbage offensive drives, and started those possessions on average from their own 35-yard line. An average offense against an average defense would be expected to score 32.5 points in the game based on field position alone, but Oregon managed to only score 10 points. Oregon moved the ball across midfield from the start of the possession to its conclusion only three times in the game, and none of those possessions resulted in points.

In fact, Washington State has generated more scoring value on defense this year than it has on offense. In five games against FBS opponents, the Cougars have had a cumulative non-garbage time scoring margin of 90 points, and 52.7 points of that scoring margin is credited to their defense. They've generated positive defensive game splits in every game this year.

How long can they keep it up? Among the 13 remaining undefeated teams, Washington State ranks 11th according to FEI in terms of its likelihood to run the table, with a 14.5 percent chance to do so. But that includes a head-to-head matchup with Washington. The Cougars' chance to run the table up until that showdown in the Apple Cup is 38.5 percent, and they currently have at least a 65 percent win likelihood in every game before facing Washington. That's a better chance than the Huskies have to get to November 25 without a blemish. As long as both the offense and defense keep playing as well as they have through the first half of the year, Washington State will remain in the hunt for a conference title and more.

FEI 2017 Week 5 Ratings

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) is a college football rating system based on opponent-adjusted drive efficiency in FBS games. Preseason projected ratings are a function of five-year program ratings, recent recruiting success, and returning offensive and defensive experience, and account for 14 percent of this week's ratings.

Strength of Schedule (SOS) ratings are a function of the projected FEI ratings of a given team's schedule of opponents and the location (home/away/neutral) of each game, representing the average number of losses an elite team (two standard deviations better than average) would have against the schedule. Each team's strength of schedule of opponents played to date (PSOS) is also provided.

Ratings for all 130 teams can be found here.

Rk Team Rec FEI SOS Rk PSOS Rk
1 Clemson 6-0 0.284 1.17 56 0.59 44
2 TCU 4-0 0.282 1.74 19 0.45 66
3 Georgia 5-0 0.280 1.25 51 0.58 47
4 Alabama 6-0 0.260 0.80 83 0.38 76
5 Oklahoma 4-1 0.238 1.98 7 0.72 28
6 Ohio State 5-1 0.232 1.55 34 0.45 67
7 Notre Dame 5-1 0.227 1.95 10 0.72 26
8 Miami 3-0 0.224 0.84 78 0.33 82
9 Penn State 6-0 0.221 1.34 44 0.31 88
10 Michigan 4-1 0.216 1.67 24 0.35 81
11 USC 5-1 0.201 1.46 39 0.65 38
12 Washington 5-0 0.195 0.89 74 0.10 121
13 Oklahoma State 4-1 0.190 1.72 21 0.81 18
14 Washington State 5-0 0.190 1.20 54 0.45 62
15 Wisconsin 5-0 0.189 0.76 84 0.09 124
Rk Team Rec FEI SOS Rk PSOS Rk
16 San Diego State 5-0 0.188 0.46 108 0.37 77
17 Central Florida 4-0 0.185 0.44 109 0.11 120
18 Texas Tech 3-1 0.179 1.95 11 0.51 52
19 Auburn 4-1 0.164 1.75 17 0.73 25
20 Stanford 4-2 0.156 1.94 12 0.98 8
21 Florida State 1-3 0.151 2.03 6 1.02 3
22 Iowa State 2-2 0.148 1.97 8 0.71 29
23 Houston 4-1 0.143 0.68 88 0.36 79
24 North Carolina State 4-1 0.139 1.59 28 0.47 59
25 Iowa 4-2 0.133 1.60 27 0.77 23
26 Michigan State 4-1 0.122 1.86 13 0.89 15
27 UCLA 3-2 0.117 1.54 35 0.45 68
28 Virginia Tech 4-1 0.112 1.33 45 0.60 43
29 Kentucky 4-1 0.103 1.17 55 0.32 85
30 Navy 5-0 0.102 1.16 59 0.10 122

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 11 Oct 2017

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