Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Dec 2013

ESPN: Lucky And Unlucky

In college football, each team plays only a dozen regular-season games and luck can play a significant role in the outcome of many of them. For the most part, successful seasons are the product of dominant and efficient offensive and defensive performances throughout the year. But some team records are heavily influenced by other factors.

As part of our Game Splits analysis, we calculate the value of non-offensive factors such as special teams and field position that can have a disproportionate impact on the outcome of certain games. Some turnovers mean more than others. Some teams win or lose close games at an unusually high rate.

Call it good or bad fortune or call it luck, but some teams overachieved or underachieved this season based on these opportunistic factors. And the pendulum may very well swing back in the other direction next year -- the top two teams we named as unluckiest in 2012, Michigan State and Oklahoma State, combined to win 22 games in 2013.

This two-part ESPN Insider piece identifies the five most fortunate and the five least fortunate teams in 2013.

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 21 Dec 2013