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Processing the Numbers, Week 6 | Ole Miss

This hair is basically Ole Miss' offense gone, but Dr. Bo is definitely the most important player on the field Saturday

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

All statistics are courtesy of Football Outsiders, home of the F/+ Combined Ratings for college football.
The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) was created by Brian Fremeau; check out his website BCFToys for other goodies.
The S&P+ rating was created by Bill Connelly; check out his college football analytics blog, Football Study Hall.
Hat tips to Addicted to Quack's kalon and FO's 7th Day Adventure column for the inspiration.

How'd last week go?

There was no game last week. What has occurred since the last game is a veritable avalanche of friendly and appreciative comments from yall on the F/++ article and the game charting articles, and while I tried to respond to all of these I doubt I was able to hit everybody — so thank you! I'm having a blast doing all of this, and the fact it's been so well-received is icing on the cake.

The Goods
Overall Quality
F/+ 25.1% (1) F/+ 22.9% (5) ALABAMA
FEI 0.263 (4) FEI 0.214 (11) ALABAMA
S&P+ 254.7 (1) S&P+ 253.9 (2) PUSH
Spread -6.5 Spread +6.5 ALABAMA

The Matchups
OS&P+ 123.8 (6) DS&P+ 135.2 (2) OLE MISS
DS&P+ 130.9 (6) OS&P+ 118.7 (18) ALABAMA
STE -.824 (81) STE .531 (55) OLE MISS
FPA .426 (119) FPA .572 (11) OLE MISS

(bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Wondering what all these terms are?

  • FEI: The Fremeau Efficiency Index, an overall team quality metric that is drive-based and opponent-adjusted. For a more detailed discussion of FEI, check out the PTN primer.
  • OFEI: The offensive component of FEI.
  • DFEI: The defensive component of FEI.
  • FPA: FEI Field Position Advantage, a measure of how much field position value a team earned against its opponents.
  • STE: FEI Special Teams Efficiency, a comoposite measure of a team's efficiency in all facets of special teams (kicking, punting, and returning), based on points per game.
  • S&P+: Another overall team quality metric, S&P+ is primarily play-based and consists of three components: Success Rate, Equivalent Net Points per Play, and a drive efficiency component. The "+" refers to opponent adjustments. For a more detailed discussion of S&P+, check out the PTN primer.
  • OS&P+: The offensive component of S&P+.
  • DS&P+: The defensive component of S&P+.
  • Rush OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on rushing plays for the offense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at running the ball.
  • Rush DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on rushing plays for the defense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at stopping the run.
  • Pass OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing plays for the offense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at throwing the ball.
  • Pass DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing plays for the defense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at defending the pass.
  • PD: Passing Downs, defined as later downs with medium yardage or more to go (3rd, 4th downs in excess of 5 yards to go), as well as 2nd down with more than 8 yards to go.
  • SD: Standard Downs, defined as all downs that are not Passing Downs.
  • SD OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on standard downs for the offense — a good measure of a team's offensive effectiveness on earlier downs and short yardage.
  • SD DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on standard downs for the defense — a good measure of a team's defensive effectiveness on earlier downs and short yardage.
  • PD OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing downs for the offense — a good measure of a team's offensive effectiveness on later downs and long yardage.
  • PD DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing downs for the defense — a good measure of a team's defensive effectiveness on later downs and long yardage.
  • F/+: The F/+ combined ratings combine FEI and S&P+ into one metric that serves as Football Outsiders' official rankings for college football. For a more detailed discussion of F/+, check out the PTN primer.
  • Off. F/+: The offensive component of F/+.
  • Def. F/+: The defensive component of F/+.
  • ST F/+: The special teams component of F/+.
  • Swanson Giddiness Index: Easily the most accurate predictor of success in college football, the Swanson Giddiness Index is a qualitative, completely unsupportable metric that is presented via the tone of that week's image/animated gif of Ron Swanson — beloved Parks and Recreation character and official spirit animal of Processing the Numbers.

Wondering what all of this means? Check out the PTN primer!

The Disclaimer

For the first six weeks of the season, these metrics are based partially on a few projection factors, namely recent program performance, the effects of roster attrition, recruiting rankings, and sweet, sweet voodoo*.

As the season progresses, data from games played will be factored in, with a progressively lighter emphasis on the projection factors. Starting in Week 7, these metrics will be based purely on games played this season. At that time, we’ll also get splits for offense, defense, and special teams, as well as insights on how teams handle passing and short-yardage situations and how they manage field position.

* This last one's not true.

So, what do we know?

Uh, that our opponent is no joke. These tables have been a cascade of crimson all year – not so this week. Ole Miss actually has the edge when they are on defense according to the S&P+ splits, and are essentially tied with the Tide in overall S&P+. You'll note the debut of two new statistics this week — Field Position Advantage (FPA) and Special Teams Efficiency (STE), both courtesy of Brian Fremeau — and also that we are far, far behind Ole Miss in both metrics.

You are seeing that correctly — Alabama currently has one of the worst FPA ratings in FBS. I suspect that's mostly a result of all the short fields Florida got due to turnovers, as well as Tyren Jones' questionable "return" in the Southern Miss game — I'm going to be optimistic and suggest we've hit our quota for ridiculous turnovers and return touchdowns for the year, so both metrics should improve going forward. All that being said, there's a lot of blue up in those charts. Ole Miss is without a doubt the best team we’ve played all year**, and it’s not even close.

** West Virginia is steadily climbing up the charts, clocking in at 21st in the F/+ rankings and a lofty 12th in overall S&P+. I have a feeling by the end of the year that win’s going to look pretty good. I also have a feeling I may be saying this about aTm, and CLANGA, and...

The rankings as a whole are… interesting… so far this year, as Bill Connelly noted in this week’s Numerical. The F/+ top 10 is separated by a mere 4.7%, and they’re not way out ahead of the rest of the pack either. As Bill notes at this stage of the season everyone is packed together a lot more than in previous seasons (2012 in particular, when the Tide were way, way, way out ahead of everybody else — I remember a Varsity Numbers column later that season in which Bill stated the Tide were "breaking" S&P+). We shed any vestiges of preseason projections soon, and it’ll be interesting to see how everything levels out when that happens.

FEI has started to rectify itself a bit, as the Tide are now a solid 4th behind Oregon, Florida State, and Auburn. It will be interesting to see where underwhelming Florida State and Auburn end up after next week, as their top-4 FEI finishes a year ago are undoubtedly swinging things a bit.

As far as Ole Miss – sheesh. This may be the best team they’ve had since Johnny Vaught’s heyday at the start of the 1960s***. I’ll freely admit I haven’t watched much of this team****, but the defense is loaded with talent, particularly in the secondary. Hugh Freeze’s vaunted HUNH attack has been very effective at times this year, and even when not effective they’ve still put plenty of points on the board for the defense to play with. Dr. Bo is leading the—

*** Did you know Ole Miss lost just 3 games from 1959 - 1962, and split 3 national titles in that span? The things you find on Wikipedia.
**** By "not … much" I mean "none at all"… I’ve thoughtfully considered all 4 box scores though!

Actually, let’s talk about Mr. Wallace for a minute. I’d like to offer you the following chart for consideration, keeping in mind the context of his career in Oxford:

Bo Wallace in 2014
Comp. % YPG TDs INTs Rating
Against Top 40 defenses: 64.38% 318 6 5 151.25
Against lesser defenses: 79.31% 318 5 1 197.1
Defensive split based on DS&P+ rankings; rating is the NCAA’s QB rating.

Yeah, so, slightly different stat lines there. Bo’s going to get his yards and some points, there’s no doubt about that. And while a 65% completion percentage is pretty solid, it’s a far cry from the almost 80% he’s pulled off against lesser competition. Say what you will about quarterback ratings, but a 40 point drop is significant. The biggie? Interceptions. Bo throws interceptions, Ole Miss struggles. That’s been the case this year, and it’s been the case in his entire career. The best defense they’ve faced was Boise State Week 1, and Boise’s currently sitting at 15th. The Tide’s a strong 6th.

Based on this, I think it’s safe to say this is going to be a matchup hinging on quarterback play. Can Bo Wallace muster up 4 quarters of mistake-free football against the best defense Ole Miss is likely to see this year? How will Blake Sims do in his first road start against the best defense he’s likely to face this year? I fully expect this to be a phenomenal slugfest of a game, and on a certain level that leaves me slightly terrified.

Any intangibles to consider?

The weather should be outstanding — temperate, sunny, and with a slight wind. October is a lovely time to be in the South.*****

***** Recently moved to Utah from the armpit region of Georgia. Good lord it's about to get cold.

I’m hesitant to bring this up at all, since this is not your typical Ole Miss, but the Tide leads this series 47-9-2 for a healthy .828 win percentage. Aside from basketball schools masquerading as athletic programs, that’s the most lopsided record for the Tide against an SEC foe. The last time Ole Miss tipped the Tide was when gentlemen by the names of Eli Manning and David Cutcliffe were running the show in Oxford, and before that we’re talking 1988. History is not on their side here.

That being said, this one is on the road in what is sure to be a raucous environment at (ok, the somewhat small) Vaught-Hemingway stadium. This incarnation of the Tide offense has been very explosive through the first four games, but seems at times unable to get plays communicated effectively in the absence of a huddle, not to mention issues with proper alignment and the snap count. According to Saban this fault lies chiefly with Lane Kiffin Blake Sims, who, as was previously noted, is starting in a noisy road environment for the first time.

Last week was a bye, which should be considered. Saban teams at Alabama are 18-5 when having more than one week to prepare. The losses? LSU in 2007, 2010, and 2011; Utah, in 2008; and Oklahoma, last year. Just to recap, that's a national champion, a national runner-up, two bowl games after demoralizing, soul-crushing end-of-season losses, and then a very, very tight game on the road against LSU in 2010. Also, no one remotely affiliated with the state of Mississippi on that list.

Allegedly the Rebels will see senior defensive back Senquez Golson on the field Saturday — he’s been dealing with some hamstring issues the last couple of weeks. You remember my man Senquez, right!?


That, of course, was Trent Richardson embarrassing Golson on national TV back in 2011. Life's a little different now - he is the leader of a strong Rebel secondary, and, for what it's worth, paces the SEC in interceptions.

Jarrick Williams is healthy, but likely still needs some time to knock off the rust. Blake Sims is said to be recovered from the bruised AC joint in his throwing shoulder suffered against Florida. DeAndrew White has been dealing with a foot injury and will likely be limited if he plays at all.

Swanson Giddiness Index


Ron is deeply concerned. Ron really hopes Good Bo doesn’t show up. Ron has emergency bottles of Lagavulin ready to go.

THE PICK: Sigh. I really don’t know which way to go here. The numbers and the gump in me say Alabama, but eternally concerned inner voice says Ole Miss. I guess Alabama Crimson Tide, but it’s going to be close, and don’t be at all surprised if we don’t take this one home.