Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

26 Nov 2013

ESPN: Is Auburn More Lucky Than Good?

Auburn has been one of the big surprises of the 2013 season. Only one year removed from a 3-9 season, winless in SEC play, new head coach Gus Malzahn turned the program around faster than anyone expected. And the Tigers have been riding a wave of good fortune as well.

Two weeks ago, a miracle 73-yard tipped pass touchdown from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis late in the game against Georgia gave Auburn its fifth victory of the season decided by a single score. The Tigers knocked off Mississippi State back on Sept. 14 with a touchdown to take the lead with only 10 seconds left in the game. They took the lead for good against Texas A&M with only 1:19 on the clock and held on for the win.

Every championship contender survives a close call at some point in the season, but the Tigers' late-game magic has been especially dramatic this year. Has Auburn been more lucky than good? That's a question our advanced stats can help answer. Let's take a closer look at the Tigers' statistical profile to measure how much they have benefited from good fortune and what it will take to beat Alabama this weekend.

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 26 Nov 2013

1 comment, Last at 27 Nov 2013, 5:13pm by AUStatsNerd


by AUStatsNerd (not verified) :: Wed, 11/27/2013 - 5:13pm

Any thoughts on dynamics? Both games you mentioned that were impacted by TOs and ST (Wazzu and MSU) were in the first 3 games Auburn played. They are, not coincidentally, the only 2 games Auburn hasn't covered against the Vegas spread. The mean distance between Auburn's performance the spread has ballooned since the Tigers' bye week after week 4 (between the LSU and Ole Miss game). Seems like Auburn might be better now, and have improved not only in absolute terms, but relative to the CFB field. Logically, that makes sense, given a coaching change, and a new QB (post bye-week, AU has built much of its offensive success around the zone-read and other plays that involve a QB run option; Auburn didn't have many called runs for Nick Marshall before the bye). Do you incorporate any trend variables in your analysis, and if so, what's the impact?