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Processing the Numbers, Week 1 | West Virginia

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You might be seeing a lot of this guy on Saturday

Kevin C. Cox

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.

The Goods
Overall Quality
ALABAMA WEST VIRGINIA The Edge
F/+ 30.2% (2) F/+ -0.1% (62) ALABAMA
FEI 0.279 (1) FEI 0.041 (51) ALABAMA
S&P+ 263.5 (2) S&P+ 191.4 (75) ALABAMA
The Offensive Matchup
ALABAMA WEST VIRGINIA The Edge
Off. F/+ 14.4% (5) Def. F/+ 2.1% (55) ALABAMA
OS&P+ 125.2 (6) DS&P+ 99.8 (68) ALABAMA
The Defensive Matchup
ALABAMA WEST VIRGINIA The Edge
Def. F/+ 15.8% (5) Off. F/+ -2.0% (78) ALABAMA
DS&P+ 138.4 (2) OS&P+ 93.9 (73) ALABAMA

"Offensive Matchup" refers to the Alabama offense against the opponent's defense, and vice versa.
(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.
  • 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 the official college football rankings of Football Outsiders. 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 seven 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 8, these metrics will be based purely on games played this season.
* This last one's not true.

So, what do we know?

Mainly, that this isn't going to be much of a game. The numbers tell us that not only does Alabama have the edge in every category, they completely outclass West Virginia across the board. The defensive matchup in particular is heinous - that negative Offensive F/+ projection indicates the Mountaineer offense is below average, whereas the Tide's rocking a top-5 Defensive F/+ projection, per usual. Same dominance, different season.

Based on West Virginia's 94th place finish in Passing Downs S&P+ last year, I suspect you're going to see a lot of crimson in the backfield on Saturday. I hope you were wanting more A'Shawn in your life, because if healthy he's going to have a lot of opportunities to shine.

The fact that these are purely projections shouldn't be overlooked, however. We don't really know anything about the 2014 incarnations of these teams yet. West Virginia could absolutely come out and and chuck the ball all up and down the field on the Tide (particularly if the absence of Trey DePriest causes issues), and their much discussed new 3-3-5 defensive look could end up giving a somewhat-untested Alabama O-line some trouble. Anyone who watched last night's aTm - USCe game saw this first hand - South Carolina had a slight-to-major edge across the board and that game was never close.

All that being said, given the way these programs have been trending over the last several years, I am comfortable calling this one for the Tide.

Typically we'll have a few more things to talk about in this section, because once games start getting played we get better, more varied stats to discuss.

Any intangibles to consider?

This game is at a neutral field, which is always something to keep in mind. Alabama hasn't dropped a season opener since 2001, when UCLA cheerfully strolled into Bryant-Denny Stadium for the immortal Dennis Franchione's first game at the Capstone and rode 15 Tide penalties** and 2 Tide turnovers (against 0 and 0 for the Bruins) to victory in a 20-17 squeaker. Don't yall miss the old days?

West Virginia last dropped an opener in 2003, when Wisconsin power-waddled into Morgantown and piled up 223 rushing yards behind generic bowling ball running back RB Anthony Davis and an army of nameless, faceless fat guys a stout Badger offensive line to win 24-17.
** I blame Penn Wagers. He probably wasn't the ref that day, but it's still his fault.

Swanson Giddiness Index

Excited__1__medium

He can barely hold onto that pen, he's so excited. Must finally be football season!

THE PICK: Alabama Crimson Tide, handily.

ROLL TIDE