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Processing the Numbers, Week 13 |
Delicious Cupcake Edition

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So adorable, with your luscious frosting and decorative liner

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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.

So, how’d last week go?

Man, what a game. Two weeks in a row. I didn’t almost have a heart attack like I did against LSU, but the Tide’s performance in the second half certainly made it a bit of a nailbiter. MSU kinda forgot to show up for most of the first half, ruining their first foray into Alabama territory with a nifty interception by Nick Perry1, but did manage to put together a drive at the end of the half to notch a field goal.

1 | My charting comment entry for this play: “INT, Nick Perry (Nick Perry!? Nick Perry.)”

The Tide elected to take the third quarter off again this week, gaining just 39 yards on 16 plays in the quarter with yet another doinked field goal for good measure. The Bulldogs opened the quarter with another field goal and scored their first touchdown of the day to start the fourth, with another interception by Cyrus Jones inbetween. The score was 19-13, and MSU had battled back to make it a one possession game.

Then, the Drive2 happened.

2 | Yes, I’m aware we’re up to about 8 of these now. No, I don’t care.

15 plays, 76 yards, 6 minutes of clock drained, one last touchdown, and an eventually insurmountable 12 point lead. A nice mix of runs and passes, notably two gorgeous third-and-long scrambles by Blake Sims to extend the drive, with a strong dose of T.J. Yeldon at the end for the score and the eventual victory. A championship drive right when it was needed, just like against LSU, just like against Ole Miss (save for a slight misfire on the final play), just like against Arkansas3. This team digs deep when its back is against the wall, and I am loving every minute of it.

3 | Don’t tell me you forgot about the Tide’s 8 play march to start of the fourth quarter, culminating in the deciding points for the game? I didn’t think so.

But more on Sims — his 10 yard scamper to pick up third and 8 from midfield was a thing of beauty, aptly described by Glen in this week's From the Couch as Greg McElroy’s romp against 2009 UF in fast forward. This storyline will be beaten to death by the end of the season, but Blake Sims is rapidly becoming an Alabama legend before our very eyes. This man was unwanted, honestly, as the starter by this fanbase, and he has proceeded to obliterate the low expectations we all had for him. I've even seen comments on this very website lamenting the fact he is out of eligibility and wont be back next year. To go from "Oh Great, Blake Sims" to "Oh Great Blake Sims," in 9 games is quite an achievement, even if it was just moving a comma to the right.

He is an undeniably limited passer, using a quick release as a crutch to make up for a lack of true arm strength, but his accuracy in the short game and the pretty good group of guys he throws to have mostly gotten the job done. On top of that, his running ability is special and brings a dimension to the position the Tide hasn’t seen in a long, long time. He is clearly the leader of this team, and the Tide will continue to rely on his excellence over the next 5 games4.

4 | gump gump gump gump gump roll tide

As for last week’s prediction – pretty much nailed it for the second week in a row. MSU was given their due in last week’s PTN, but I stated I couldn’t fathom this team losing to that team in Bryant-Denny, and they didn’t.

Finally, just as a look-ahead to the end of the season, I'm going to shamelessly pilfer yet another great idea from Addicted to Quack's kalon5 and do a review of my predictions for the season in the final Processing the Numbers, so that we may all lampoon my inability to accurately predict anything together as a group.

5 | Had you not previously noticed the hat tip at the top of these articles to the very same?

The Goods

Overall Quality
F/+ 36.6% (1)
FEI 0.289 (2)
S&P+ 268 (1)

OF/+ 18.2% (4)
OFEI 0.594 (9)
OS&P+ 130.3 (3)
Rush OS&P+ 128.4 (13)
Pass OS&P+ 156.4 (3)
SD OS&P+ 137.9 (1)
PD OS&P+ 136.8 (14)

DF/+ 19.6% (2)
DFEI -0.578 (7)
DS&P+ 137.7 (1)
Rush DS&P+ 160.9 (1)
Pass DS&P+ 134.6 (9)
SD DS&P+ 148.4 (1)
PD DS&P+ 133.8 (17)

Special Teams
ST F/+ -1.1% (95)
FPA 0.481 (99)

(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 composite 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!

So, what do we know?

Well, Western Carolina is an FCS school. They are currently 7-4, good for second in the Southern Conference behind the Chattanooga Mocs, whom they lost to at home in a 51-0 barnburner. The Catamounts6 run a fairly balanced offense, with a ~400 yard advantage toward passing on the year, and they do not stand any kind of chance against the Tide on Saturday. This is going to be an absolute evisceration. Expect to see lots of Jake Coker and Tyren Jones, little to no DeAndrew White or T.J. Yeldon, and very, very few points by the opponent.

6 | a medium-sized or large wild cat, especially a cougar.

How do the Tide stack up with the rest of the country?

You might've heard they rank #1 in the very meaningful super important mind-blowing life-changing Week 12 CFP rankings. I felt this should be acknowledged, but you might've also noticed I don't have the highest opinion of these. We'll check back after December 6th when the committee's opinion is actually relevant.

Back to the real stuff — knocking off the #1 team in the country can do wonders for your standings in the advanced metrics, particularly if they agree with such a lofty perch for said opponent. The Tide got a little bump in F/+ and FEI, but not so much in S&P+, despite MSU’s #3 ranking in that metric coming in. The reason for that is pretty simple — Bill C. doesn't add extra weight in the opponent adjustments for "big games" like Fremeau does7.

7 | There's a little more detailed explanation here.

The FEI and S&P+ splits all changed a bit as well, mostly in the positive direction. One notable is the Tide’s ascendance to #1 in offensive standard downs S&P+, which pairs nicely with the defense’s corresponding #1 rating. Nothing else to see he—

Wait wait wait waitaminute. Look at the special teams numbers! They got better! The ST F/+ ranking didn’t change much, but the Tide improved a full half percent in one game, after not budging the meter at all over the last few games. FPA went up a tad as well, and that ugly 100+ ranking is now off the table. Turns out when your kick coverage is pretty good and your punter flips All The Fields, your special teams metrics go up. Who knew8?

8 | We don't track special teams for the Charting Project. I may have to start doing something for Scott next year just to demonstrate how awesome he is.

Any intangibles to consider?


9 | Well, actually… yeah, no. I’ve still got nothing.

Swanson Giddiness Index

Ron will watch the game, but only kind of, because this one’s going to be over after the opening kickoff.

THE PICK: Alabama Crimson Tide, because obvious pick is obvious.