Fremeau Efficiency Ratings
College football power ratings and analysis

FEI Week 10 Ratings

Johnny Johnson
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Brian Fremeau

There are a number of ways I slice possession data in order to evaluate team efficiency. The top offenses typically rise to the top of most, if not all categories. Alabama currently leads the nation in opponent-adjusted OFEI possession efficiency, unadjusted possession efficiency, touchdown rate (reaching the end zone on 60% of its non-garbage drives to date), and available yards percentage (earning 73.8% of drive yards based on starting field position). The Crimson Tide also rank second nationally in first down rate (earning at least one first down on 87.1% of non-garbage drives), second nationally in explosive drive rate (35.7% of Alabama drives average at least 10 yards per play), third in busted drive rate (only 2.9% of drives gain zero or negative yards), and fourth in turnover rate (only 4.3% of drives have resulted in an interception or fumble).

On defense, Clemson has a similarly dominant efficiency profile. The Tigers rank first nationally in opponent-adjusted possession efficiency, unadjusted possession efficiency, first down rate (53.4%), and available yards percentage (22.4%). They rank second in touchdown rate (6.8%), eighth in busted drive rate (18.2%), 11th in turnover rate (17.0%), and 20th in explosive drive rate (8.0%).

Each of those efficiency measures are descriptive in some way as to how well Alabama's offense and Clemson's defense maximizes their possessions. Moving the ball effectively and consistently down the field and into scoring range on offense, and keeping an opponent from doing the same when they have the ball, are the basic elements of winning football games. Win offensive and defensive possessions, and win the game more often than not.

Miami defeated Florida State on Saturday by a final score of 27-10 and had a solid available yards percentage margin on the day. The Hurricanes earned 41.5% of available yards on offense, and held Florida State to only 18.0% of available yards. I charted all FBS games played in 2019 to calculate the relationship between margin of victory and available yards percentage margin. Miami's 23.5% margin and 17-point victory falls right along the best fit trendline.

Available Yards

Week 10 featured several key outliers on this chart as well. Notre Dame had a similarly strong edge over Virginia Tech as Miami had over Florida State. The Fighting Irish earned 49.4% of available yards and allowed only 26.6%, a margin of 22.8%. Instead of winning by several scores, however, Notre Dame needed a late touchdown to eke out a one-point victory over the Hokies. Available yards percentages account for the success of an Irish second-quarter drive to the Virginia Tech 2-yard line, but don't account for the fumble and 98-yard touchdown return that the Hokies defense scored at the conclusion of that drive.

Cincinnati posted a 46-43 victory over East Carolina with an available yards percentage margin deficit of 20.0% -- the Bearcats earned only 50.6% of available yards and surrendered a whopping 70.6% of available yards to the Pirates. East Carolina ended each of its last 11 offensive possessions in the game in plus-territory, but also gave up a costly pick-six while clinging to a fourth-quarter lead. No team has been victorious this year with a greater available yards percentage deficit than Cincinnati.

Less dramatically in terms of final score, but no less dramatic in terms of the relationship between available yards margin and margin of victory, was Oregon's blowout win over USC. The Ducks crushed the Trojans by a final score of 56-24, with a non-garbage final score of 42-17. That 25-point non-garbage victory featured two Oregon non-offensive touchdowns -- an interception return and kickoff return in the second quarter. USC had three failed trips in non-garbage time into Oregon territory, and two offensive opportunities that ended inside the Oregon 10-yard line that didn't reach the end zone. USC edged Oregon in available yards percentage by 1.9%, but still lost by more than three scores. No other result this season is plotted further from the best fit trendline in the chart.

Special teams and defensive scores played a big part in each of these outlier cases. Though those events had a big impact on the final outcome of these games, they aren't the kind of repeatable events that inform the FEI ratings. Available yards percentage, and other reliable offensive and defensive efficiency metrics detailed in the FEI ratings pages, tell a more predictive story of the respective strengths of each team.

2019 FEI Ratings (through Week 10)

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) is a college football rating system based on opponent-adjusted possession efficiency, representing the per possession scoring advantage a team would be expected to have on a neutral field against an average opponent. Unadjusted possession efficiency (PE) is calculated as a function of offensive, defensive, and special teams game splits. Schedule strength is represented by each team's average per possession opponent adjustment (OA). Opponent-adjusted offense ratings (OFEI), opponent-adjusted defense ratings (DFEI), and opponent-adjusted special teams ratings (SFEI) are calculated in a similar manner as overall FEI ratings. Team records against all FBS opponents (W-L) and against opponents ranked in the FEI top 10 (v10), top 20 (v20), top 30 (v30), top 40 (v40), and top 50 (v50) are also provided.

Ratings and supporting data are calculated from the results of non-garbage possessions in FBS vs. FBS games.

 

Rk Team W-L FEI PE Rk OA Rk OFEI Rk DFEI Rk SFEI Rk v10 v20 v30 v40 v50
1 Ohio State 8-0 1.73 1.52 2 .21 15 1.86 4 1.54 2 .14 2 1-0 1-0 3-0 5-0 5-0
2 Alabama 8-0 1.47 1.55 1 -.07 88 2.22 1 .90 9 .10 10 0-0 0-0 0-0 1-0 2-0
3 Clemson 8-0 1.26 1.28 3 -.02 73 .99 13 1.65 1 -.05 100 0-0 0-0 0-0 1-0 4-0
4 LSU 7-0 1.20 1.06 4 .14 34 1.93 3 .53 23 .06 25 0-0 1-0 3-0 3-0 4-0
5 Wisconsin 6-2 1.13 .96 6 .17 26 1.29 5 1.00 5 -.02 81 0-1 1-1 2-1 2-1 2-1
6 Oklahoma 6-1 .99 .90 9 .09 44 2.19 2 -.16 70 .11 8 0-0 0-1 1-1 1-1 1-1
7 Georgia 6-1 .99 .91 8 .07 53 .78 22 1.00 6 .10 12 0-0 0-0 2-0 2-0 2-1
8 Utah 7-1 .97 .89 10 .07 54 .97 14 .99 7 -.02 80 0-0 0-0 2-0 2-1 2-1
9 Penn State 7-0 .92 .73 11 .20 16 .86 20 .89 10 .13 6 0-0 2-0 3-0 3-0 4-0
10 Central Florida 6-2 .85 .95 7 -.10 96 1.15 7 .56 21 .01 63 0-0 0-0 0-1 1-1 1-2
11 Minnesota 7-0 .81 1.01 5 -.20 109 1.06 11 .65 13 -.05 102 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0
12 Oregon 7-1 .73 .65 15 .08 49 .87 19 .60 16 .07 21 0-0 0-1 2-1 3-1 3-1
13 Auburn 7-2 .71 .47 23 .24 11 .26 53 1.12 3 .08 18 0-1 1-1 1-2 2-2 4-2
14 Michigan 7-2 .68 .50 20 .18 21 .42 41 .94 8 .07 19 0-2 1-2 2-2 2-2 2-2
15 Navy 6-1 .67 .70 12 -.03 75 .90 17 .47 26 .02 53 0-0 0-0 1-1 1-1 2-1
Rk Team W-L FEI PE Rk OA Rk OFEI Rk DFEI Rk SFEI Rk v10 v20 v30 v40 v50
16 Iowa 6-2 .67 .59 16 .08 51 .18 59 1.04 4 .09 15 0-1 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2
17 Iowa State 4-3 .66 .50 18 .15 28 1.12 9 .24 37 -.02 82 0-0 0-2 1-2 1-3 1-3
18 Baylor 7-0 .63 .67 14 -.04 76 .69 25 .58 20 -.02 73 0-0 2-0 2-0 3-0 3-0
19 SMU 8-1 .55 .58 17 -.03 74 .95 16 .20 42 -.06 106 0-0 0-0 1-1 1-1 1-1
20 Kansas State 5-2 .54 .35 33 .19 18 .49 37 .63 15 .06 22 1-0 1-1 2-1 2-2 3-2
21 Texas 5-3 .54 .35 32 .19 19 1.08 10 -.04 59 .04 35 0-2 0-2 0-3 1-3 2-3
22 Florida 5-2 .54 .17 45 .36 2 .61 29 .44 28 .06 24 0-2 1-2 1-2 1-2 3-2
23 Notre Dame 6-2 .52 .44 24 .08 50 .46 40 .60 17 .01 62 0-1 0-2 0-2 1-2 3-2
24 Memphis 7-1 .52 .50 19 .02 66 1.06 12 -.07 60 .14 3 0-0 2-0 2-0 2-0 3-0
25 Air Force 6-2 .48 .47 22 .01 68 .96 15 -.10 65 .08 17 0-0 0-1 0-1 0-2 0-2
26 TCU 3-4 .48 .18 44 .30 5 .30 49 .59 18 -.02 78 0-0 0-3 1-3 1-4 1-4
27 Michigan State 4-4 .45 .02 59 .43 1 .09 65 .83 11 .01 61 0-3 0-3 0-3 1-3 1-3
28 Washington State 3-4 .45 .33 34 .11 39 1.26 6 -.53 100 .05 30 0-1 0-2 0-2 0-2 0-2
29 Washington 4-4 .44 .27 37 .17 25 .76 23 .14 46 .13 5 0-1 0-2 0-2 1-2 1-2
30 Cincinnati 7-1 .43 .28 35 .15 29 .40 43 .52 24 .05 33 1-1 1-1 1-1 1-1 1-1

Comments

10 comments, Last at 10 Nov 2019, 9:45am

1 Bucky is top 5?

It's interesting to see how high Wisconsin is ranked and it's sad for me to see how low ND is ranked, but ND didn't show up in the Michigan game. A USC team that only lost by 3 points to ND, got its doors blown off by the Ducks.

3 It's interesting that FEI…

It's interesting that FEI has consistently ranked Minnesota higher than the talking media heads all season, including now. To the point that Minnesota beating Penn State, in Minneapolis, on a very cold day, might not even be considered an upset. We'll see. At the the end of September, I thought FEI had overrated them, and I still think it may be doing so, but the numbers are the numbers, and unlike the first 3 weeks, they are stomping teams they should be stomping. There's a bit of a Patriots problem, however. When the competition has been uniformly weak, opponent adjustments may not fully capture actual performance.

4 CFB Reference's SRS (similar…

CFB Reference's SRS (similar to pro-football-reference's model) thinks Minnesota is about 22nd, between U-M and MSU (which feels right).

https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/years/2019-ratings.html

Minnesota did not cover themselves in glory early in the season, and their best win is probably the one over Illinois. They've played the weakest schedule of any Power-5 team. Baylor has played stronger teams than Minnesota.

But we'll see. They close with Penn State, Wisconsin, and Iowa. They can win the West even if they drop two of those, assuming they defeat the Wisconsin-Iowa winner.

5 They played really poorly…

They played really poorly against South Dakota State and Georgia Southern. Then they tightened up on defense and, most importantly, the offensive line started executing as a unit. This is not an uncommon phenomena for teams that are much better in November than they were in September. It's just hard to tell, given the schedule, if they have improved enough to compete against top 10 or top 20 teams.

Where they have been fortunate so far is health. They aren't.terrifically deep, but they have at least 7 or 8 starters that have a decent chance of making NFL rosters. A college roster like that which is well coached (and it is) has a chance in almost any game.

10 Congratulations, Brian, for…

In reply to by Brian Fremeau

Congratulations, Brian, for having your work validated. I thought it was interesting at the beginning of the season that you had Minnesota pegged much higher than nearly everyone else, even if I wasn't convinced, especially after three games.

I'd be interested in how yesterday's game broke down. Penn State ended up with over 500 yards, afterall. How harmful are the three ints to their drive efficiency? Does the fact that they had the good fortune to recover a punt they muffed affect much? The Gophers also fumbled, but the fumbler was able to knock the loose ball out of bounds. I know you aren't working with play by play, but do such events get factored somehow?

Anyways, I think NFL modeling is exceedingly difficult, so I've always.thought that what you were trying to do was almost ridiculously so, given the number of teams and lack of schedule connectivity, so again, congrats!