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?
About the same as the week before against FAU. The Alabama Crimson Tide played a patsy against whom they were heavily favored, and Alabama beat that patsy to a degree befitting the elite team that they are (or, at least, appear to be at this point in the season). Didn’t quite cover the spread in this one, but a forty point win is nothing to seriously complain about.
This week brings the start of the SEC schedule, and with it an opponent that should be (with no disrespect intended to the solid West Virginia Mountaineers) the first real test of the Tide this season — the Florida Gators.
Fair warning — I really don’t like Florida. They’re alone in third on my hate list after Tennessee and Auburn (and honestly that’s only because #1 and #2 are required to be #1 or #2 — I pity Auburn more than I hate them). I get along with some Dawgs because I exhibit the same level of disgust toward Florida they do. I don’t like their fans (this guy’s alright), I don’t like their colors, their stadium looks like somebody vomited after eating too many gummi bears… and I should probably move on to the tables (!) at this point:
(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 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!
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?
There are two tables! Benevolent analytics overlord Bill Connelly provided offensive and defensive S&P+ splits this week, so the second table above gives you an idea of what the matchup looks like when Alabama has the ball (first row) and when Florida has the ball (second row).
This may come as a great shock to you, but the first SEC opponent this year for the Tide is the best opponent they’ve seen thusfar. The jort brigade is in the top 40 of each metric, and it cannot be overstated how much better this team will be than FAU and Southern Miss (and, frankly, West Virginia). That being said, Alabama still has a healthy edge in each metric (Look at that balance! 4th in the country on offense, 4th in the country on defense! The only other team with top 5 ranks in both is FSU), and Vegas has the Tide installed as a two-touchdown favorite to start.
The FEI rankings are at the mercy of the strength of schedule game again, as the Tide are still ranked behind Stanford (who beat an Army squad nearly as terrible as Southern Miss) and USC (who lost to Boston College, who’s mucking around with the West Virginias of the world at #51 in F/+), but are now also ranked behind SEC compatriots Missouri, LSU, and Ole Miss. Look for this situation to change next week, provided a positive outcome against the Gators. Alabama is still hanging tough with FSU and Oregon in overall S&P+ and overall F/+, situations which should remain unchanged as long as all three teams keep handling business.
As indicated above, this week’s opponent
is no slouch will be a pain to deal with per usual, and my feeling is that this one isn’t going to be pretty. Keep in mind we’re still working partially off of last year’s results, when injuries decimated a promising Gator squad the Gators Zooked their way to a 4-8 record. This year’s squad looks more like what people were expecting last year, with a strong defense and an improving off—
What’s that you say? Kentucky? 3 OT in the Swamp? Florida looked hapless at times and is clearly overrated? Refs made sure they had every opportunity to win late? It was KENTUCKY!? Listen, Kentucky is a heck of a lot better than they were last year (#97 in the 2013 F/+ rankings, vs. #66 going into last week’s game), and it would not surprise me in the slightest if UF didn’t start taking that game seriously until
resident psychopath Coach Boom Saban disciple Will Muschamp went ballistic at halftime used positive reinforcement to motivate his team for the second half. Even the most ardent of Gators were giving Kentucky some respect after the game (though, as is typical of Gainesville etiquette, you’ll note it was a backhanded compliment — they helpfully point out how Kentucky was the luckier team during the game. Yes, you’re right, of course they were, my mistake.).
In all seriousness, you better believe they are coming to Tuscaloosa ready to play — no waiting to show up until the second half in this one. You’ve gotten used to seeing the Tide get everyone’s best shot, and I fully suspect we’ll see more of the Florida from the Eastern Michigan game than the one from last week.
On a personal note, I’m curious to see if Amari Cooper gets as ludicrously open when Florida sics the outstanding Vernon Hargreaves III on him. Coop’s kept the defense honest through the first three games, but if Hargreaves manages to restrict his impact,
Kiffin will unleash the Howard Blake Sims will have to find a new favorite target to keep the box clear for T.J. Yeldon and company.
Alabama has a clear statistical edge and should pick up the win, but it’s going to be a battle from start to finish.
Any intangibles to consider?
The weather looks absolutely delightful for football (perhaps a tad on the hot side), slightly cloudy and barely any chance of rain. The Tide gets Florida at home, which… eh. Alabama’s a pedestrian 7-5 against the Gators in Tuscaloosa, and 10-10 against them in the state of Alabama. Florida leads the series 8-7 since Steve Spurrier arrived in 1990 (also known as "the beginning of time" in Gainesville).
The Tide will be lacking the classy and contrite Nick Perry for the first half, but is likely to welcome DeAndrew White back into the fold. T.J. Yeldon, Eddie Jackson, and Denzel Devall all missed some of the Southern Miss game because of injuries, but they were considered minor and all three should be on the field Saturday. Jarrick Williams is progressing in his recovery and may start running this week, but is doubtful for Saturday.
Florida appears to have survived the Wildcats unscathed, but may still be without starting left tackle D.J. Humphries, who was slated to miss 2-3 weeks after an injury in the Eastern Michigan game. The two options they have to replace him are both freshmen (one’s a redshirt), and not of the Andre Smith/Cyrus Kouandjio/Cam Robinson variety. Kentucky wasn’t able to get to the shifty Jeff Driskel — we’ll see if the Tide do any better this Saturday. Starting tight end Jake McGee was lost for the year in the Eastern Michigan game as well.
Swanson Giddiness Index
This is what Ron looks like when a Florida fan tells him "historically, the Gators have been the SEC’s premier program."** Ron would like to see pure, vicious dominance on Saturday, but he’ll gladly take a win any way it comes. A loss, and you’ll find him under the pile of Lagavulin bottles over in the corner.
** Perhaps not verbatim, but I've personally experienced this idiocy on at least three separate occasions from adult, college-educated human beings.
THE PICK: Alabama Crimson Tide, but just barely. Strap in for all 60 minutes folks.