A Look at College Football’s First Quarter

We are now one-fourth of the way through the college football season. Ever so close to the eventual panic and hysteria that the college football playoff will assuredly bring. Before we start debating each other like we are on Hardball with Chris Matthews, lets look at some statistical norms and oddities from the season so far.

Statistics

As always, we are using everyone’s favorite advanced metrics source, Football Outsiders. The two formulas we are looking at are FEI and S&P. I will let FO describe the luscious little stats.

S&P – “The S&P+ Ratings are a college football ratings system derived from the play-by-play data of all 800+ of a season’s FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays). There are three key components to the S&P+:

Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.

IsoPPP: An explosiveness measure derived from determining the equivalent point value of every yard line (based on the expected number of points an offense could expect to score from that yard line) and, therefore, every play of a given game. NOTE: IsoPPP is in use for the first time in 2014. It looks at only the per-play value of a team’s successful plays (as defined by the Success Rate definition above); its goal is to separate altogether the efficiency component from the explosiveness component. This results in a new equation below. Success Rate now accounts for 80% of S&P below, while IsoPPP accounts for just 20%. For more information about IsoPPP, click here.

Drive Efficiency: As of February 2013, S&P+ also includes a drive-based aspect based on the field position a team creates and its average success at scoring the points expected based on that field position. It is factored in after seven weeks.
Opponent adjustments: Success Rate and PPP combine to form S&P, an OPS-like measure for football. Then each team’s S&P output for a given category (Rushing/Passing on either Standard Downs or Passing Downs) is compared to the expected output based upon their opponents and their opponents’ opponents. This is a schedule-based adjustment designed to reward tougher schedules and punish weaker ones.”

Hope you got all of that! Now lets see what FEI is.

FEI – “The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) is a college football rating system based on opponent-adjusted drive efficiency. Nearly 20,000 possessions are contested annually in FBS vs. FBS games. First-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores are filtered out. Game Efficiency (GE) is a function of the starting field position and outcome of non-garbage possessions. Opponent adjustments are calculated with special emphasis placed on quality performances against good teams, win or lose.”

To make it a little more simple, S&P will be used for determine how good a team is at certain aspects of the game, while FEI is more suited to tell us the overall story of how good a team is. Fantastic. Onto what they say about this season.

Offense

According to S&P:

Top 5 Overall Offenses

  1. Oregon
  2. Mississippi State
  3. Michigan State
  4. West Virginia
  5. FSU

It really should shock absolutely no one that Oregon is first in overall offense. But, did you know that Mississippi State was ranked 2nd? Crazy, right? Well, two juggernauts on the same war path as last year are FSU and Alabama. FSU, despite having a game with a lousy backup, ranks in at 5th overall while Bama is right behind them at 6. A very impressive statistic also tells us that 7 of the overall top 12 offenses in the country are from the SEC, including Auburn at 11. Not bad.

Top 5 Rushing Offenses

  1. TCU
  2. NC State
  3. Arkansas
  4. Texas A&M
  5. Marshall

Now I know this isn’t the sexiest list, but this is the list. How about Texas A&M? They seem to have recovered from the Johnny Football loss quite nicely. A weird stat is (again) FSU and Bama. FSU ranks 35 while Bama ranks 20. This is weird because both were top 5 rushing offenses last year. Long season, but that is pretty far out for most teams to recover. Another oddity? Ole Miss ranks 89 in rushing offense despite ranking 12 overall in total offense.

Top 5 Passing Offense

  1. Baylor
  2. Michigan State
  3. Oregon
  4. Georgia Southern
  5. California

Again, it seems like we have had some names rise that won’t be here towards the end, but this is not a season review…yet. One VERY surprising stat is that Bama is 6th overall. Surprising because just a few weeks ago fans were all but calling for Sim’s head. Jacob Coker sucks. Lets all just move on. FYI, Florida ranks 91. Just wanted everyone to enjoy that.

Defense

According to S&P

Top 5 Overall Defense

  1. Stanford
  2. Ole Miss
  3. Baylor
  4. Louisville
  5. Oklahoma

The Ole Miss ranking is especially intriguing. They have a big matchup with Bama (ranked 6th) and may actually give their offense fits. Clemson is a surprising 9th overall ranking. Probably boosted from playing a highly ranked FSU team. On the opposite end of the ACC, Georgia Tech is ranked 101. In SEC news, Florida is ranked 63. Florida sucks. We can confirm unbiasedly.

Top 5 Rushing Defense

  1. Baylor
  2. Mississippi State
  3. Louisville
  4. Stanford
  5. Boise State

Louisville looking strong! And according to the stats, Mississippi State is going to win the SEC! Lets move on before my head explodes.

Top 5 Passing Defense

  1. Ole Miss (watch out Bama!)
  2. Baylor
  3. Stanford
  4. TCU
  5. Temple

Ole Miss apparently is tough on defense in all phases. Alabama ranks a surprising 21, given their recent history of pass rush mixed with killer safety play. FSU, who was the best defense by far last year, is ranked 81 overall. Yeah, FSU may be in some trouble. Even the stout Auburn defense from last year is ranking 52 in the pass defense department.

Top 25 According to FEI

Remember that cool stat I told you about? This is how they would rank the top 25 if it were based on stats alone.

  1. Oregon
  2. FSU
  3. Auburn
  4. Alabama
  5. Texas A&M
  6. Stanford
  7. Oklahoma
  8. USC
  9. UCLA
  10. Missouri
  11. Ole Miss
  12. Mississippi State
  13. LSU
  14. Georgia
  15. Notre Dame
  16. Baylor
  17. Ohio State
  18. BYU
  19. Clemson
  20. TCU
  21. Oklahoma State
  22. Wisconsin
  23. Michigan State
  24. Utah
  25. Nebraska

Top 5 Heisman List (My Opinion)

  1. Todd Gurley – Georgia
  2. Ameer Abdullah – Nebraska
  3. Marcus Mariota – Orgeon
  4. Amari Cooper – Bama
  5. Rashad Greene – FSU

Playoff

(1) FSU vs (4) Stanford

(2) Bama vs (3) Oklahoma

FSU vs BAMA

 

 

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