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Advanced Stats Rundown, Football Edition | The Week of September 12th

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Big Game Bob's visit to Knoxville and Michigan State's revenge opportunity headline this week's Advanced Stats Rundown

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Football Power Index (FPI) Ratings are courtesy of ESPN
All other 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.

So, how’d last week go?

Pretty well if I do say so myself, considering I’ve never really picked against the spread in any kind of formal way before. Including the Alabama game, I was 11 for 12[1] straight up; only South Carolina bumbling to victory over North Carolina kept me from going 12 for 12. Against the spread was a coin flip at 6 for 12, which I’ll gladly take for now. If only Mississippi State had started taking care of business in the first half!

1 | Granted, not hard to pick the SEC over a bunch of mid-majors, but I take victories where I can.

2015, Straight Up: 11/12 (91.7%)
2015, Against the Spread: 6/12 (50%)

A weak slate overall, as you would expect in Week 2 given the general scheduling philosophy of most SEC teams, but there are few good ones to talk about this week. All statistics and spreads as of September 9th, 2015.

Wondering what all these terms are?

Overall Quality

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 this section of the PTN Football Primer.

FPI: The Football Power Index, an overall team quality metric produced by ESPN. Presented as a scoring margin, FPI weights factors such as offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiencies, as well as turnovers and big plays, and also includes opponent adjustments.

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 this section of the PTN Football Primer.

S&P+: Another overall quality metric constructed primarily from a play-by-play perspective, the S&P+ rating underwent big changes prior to the 2015 season. Check out the primer article for more details.

Offensive Metrics

Off. F/+: The offensive component of F/+.

OFEI: The offensive component of FEI.

OS&P+: The offensive 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.

Pass OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing plays for the offense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at throwing the ball.

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.

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.

Defensive Metrics

Def. F/+: The defensive component of F/+.

DFEI: The defensive component of FEI.

DS&P+: The defensive component of S&P+.

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 DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing plays for the defense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at defending the pass.

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 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.

Special Teams Metrics

FPA: FEI Field Position Advantage, a measure of how much field position value a team earned against its opponents.

Fremeau Special Teams Efficiency Components - The special teams component of F/+ is based on Brian Fremeau’s Special Teams Efficiency, which is made up of the following five components of special teams play (per FootballOutsiders):
FGEField Goal Efficiency, the scoring value per field goal attempt earned by the field goal unit as measured against national success rates.
PREPunt Return Efficiency, the scoring value per opponent punt earned by the receiving team as measured against national return rates.
KREKickoff Return Efficiency, the scoring value per opponent kickoff earned by the receiving team as measured against national return rates.
PEPunt Efficiency, the scoring value per punt earned by the opponent's receiving team as measured against national return rates.
KEKickoff Efficiency, the scoring value per kickoff earned by the opponent's receiving team as measured against national return rates.

Line-Specific Metrics

ASRAdjusted Sack Rate, which is a version of sack rate (defined as sacks / [sacks + passing attempts] ) that has been opponent-adjusted. The metric is scaled based on an average rate of 100; the higher the rate the better. ASR is calculated for both the offense (OASR) and defense (DASR).

ALYAdjusted Line Yards, which is a measure of success in the running game specific to the line. This is accomplished by taking each carry by running backs only and weighting the yardage as follows:

  • Runs for a loss are weighted 120%.
  • Runs for 0-4 yards are unweighted.
  • Runs for 5-10 yards are weighted 50%.
  • Runs for 11 or more yards are not included.

After the weighting process, the runs are further adjusted for game situation and opponent, and then averaged out per carry, resulting in adjusted line yards — a more detailed explanation of the entire process is available here. ALY is calculated for both the offensive line (OASR) and the defensive front seven (DASR).

The 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.

SEC Game of the Week, Non-Alabama Division

Oklahoma Sooners at The Viles, Saturday September 12th
5 PM CDT / 6 PM EDT, ESPN

The Matchup
THE VILES OKLAHOMA THE EDGE
F/+ 27.0% (29) F/+ 38.4% (16) OKLAHOMA
FEI 0.092 (33) FEI 0.148 (19) OKLAHOMA
S&P+ 14.1 (27) S&P+ 17.6 (16) OKLAHOMA
FPI 20.6 (11) FPI 20.0 (12) PUSH
OS&P+ 48.6 (5) DS&P+ 20.9 (38) THE VILES
DS&P+ 34.5 (88) OS&P+ 38.5 (22) OKLAHOMA
Spread 1.0 Spread -1.0 OKLAHOMA

One of a handful of top-25 matchups this weekend, the advanced stats currently tilt in the favor of Oklahoma, but the miniscule spread indicates Vegas isn’t so sure about that. FPI is equally skeptical, as it has these two teams separated by merely 0.6 rating points. The Sooners dispatched with a tasty mid-major cupcake in typical Oklahoma fashion last week with a 41-3 victory over Akron, buoyed by the passing exploits of that-name-is-so-Oklahoma-it-hurts Baker Mayfield[2] in lieu of a big game on the ground from single game rushing king Samaje Perine.

2 | NOT Trevor Knight, who has done approximately jack since that other other Sugar Bowl that never happened.

That’s bad news for the Viles, as their secondary was repeatedly torched by middling Bowling Green last week. They also ran all over the Falcons with a one-two punch of the much-ballyhooed Jalen Hurd and former Alabama back Alvin Kamara, who had an impressive debut for his new team. There’s also the small matter of Neyland Stadium and all 102,455 Juniors and Lulus[3] it contains, chanting/screaming/whatevering to Turn Down For What every 30 seconds. In the end I think the home field advantage pushes the Viles over the edge, but this should be a good one.

3 | Will never, ever get old, at least not around these parts.

THE PICK: The Viles, straight up and to cover.

National Game of the Week

Oregon Ducks at Michigan State Spartans, Saturday September 12th
7 PM CDT / 8 PM EDT, ABC

The Matchup
MICHIGAN STATE OREGON THE EDGE
F/+ 48.2% (6) F/+ 59.8% (3) PUSH
FEI 0.193 (6) FEI 0.246 (3) PUSH
S&P+ 20.9 (9) S&P+ 25.1 (3) PUSH
FPI 19.4 (16) FPI 18.8 (17) PUSH
OS&P+ 41.4 (16) DS&P+ 36.6 (95) MICHIGAN STATE
DS&P+ 20.5 (36) OS&P+ 61.7 (1) OREGON
Spread -3.5 Spread 3.5 MICHIGAN STATE

Heh, good luck sorting that out. Feels a bit odd previewing a regular season Oregon game, as that’s typically the province of ATQ’s excellent kalon, but hey, I can’t ignore #3 vs. #6 now can I?

Oregon has the slimmest of margins in the FootballOutsiders metrics, with Sparty similarly ahead according to FPI, but in neither case is the separation significant. The offensive and defensive S&P+ splits, however inaccurate they may be at this point in the season, scream shootout for this one, and that seems to be the thought in SBN bloggerland as well. Michigan State was spotted just 3.5 at home by Vegas, which tells me they think this would be a tossup on a neutral field.

Oregon’s offense looked like Oregon’s offense last week[4], dropping 62 on a better-than-average FCS squad devoid of their star quarterback Vernon Adams, who, as I’m sure you’re aware, is now the starting quarterback for Oregon, because that’s how the NCAA works nowadays. That gentleman will be playing, as the injury scare against Eastern Washington will not prevent the transfer from suiting up Saturday. This game is rife with intrigue — Oregon depantsed the Spartans in Eugene last season, and word is Mark Dantonio’s crew is still a wee bit upset about it — and features two quality squads who will likely be in playoff contention toward the end of the season. At the end of the day, Michigan State did not impress against a directional Michigan[5] last week, and I think we’re about to find out how big a loss Pat Narduzzi really is. Unclear on whether Rich Homie Quan will make an appearance.

4 | Despite losing 10 starters. Yeah, it’s totally not the system guys.

5 | The good one, but still.

THE PICK: Oregon Ducks, straight up and to cover.

Other SEC Games To Watch

Kentucky Wildcats at South Carolina Gamecocks, Saturday September 12th
6:30 PM CDT / 7:30 PM EDT, SEC Network

The Matchup
SOUTH CAROLINA KENTUCKY THE EDGE
F/+ 30.9% (27) F/+ -10.2% (79) SOUTH CAROLINA
FEI 0.131 (25) FEI -0.073 (86) SOUTH CAROLINA
S&P+ 13.2 (28) S&P+ -0.2 (66) SOUTH CAROLINA
FPI 10.2 (31) FPI 5.7 (47) SOUTH CAROLINA
OS&P+ 36.1 (34) DS&P+ 38.1 (100) SOUTH CAROLINA
DS&P+ 22.9 (46) OS&P+ 37.9 (26) KENTUCKY
Spread -7.5 Spread 7.5 SOUTH CAROLINA

I found the spread a bit puzzling here, as Week 1 was an entirely different experience for these teams. South Carolina struggled, but they did so with a pretty decent North Carolina team that was more or less a match for them coming in. Kentucky survived a Louisiana school other than LSU, which isn’t really an accomplishment. And yet, South Carolina is just a touchdown favorite, despite being afforded the opportunity to Sandstorm to their hearts content in Columbia. I don’t see this being that close, as the Gamecocks have a significant edge in all four overall quality stats.

THE PICK: South Carolina Gamecocks, straight up and to cover.

LSU Tigers at Mississippi State Bulldogs, Saturday September 12th
8:15 PM CDT / 7:15 PM EDT, ESPN

The Matchup
MISSISSIPPI STATE LSU THE EDGE
F/+ 31.0% (26) F/+ 47.9% (7) LSU
FEI 0.117 (28) FEI 0.18 (10) LSU
S&P+ 14.7 (24) S&P+ 22.3 (5) LSU
FPI 11.9 (26) FPI 24.5 (4) LSU
OS&P+ 34.5 (45) DS&P+ 12.3 (11) LSU
DS&P+ 19.8 (35) OS&P+ 34.6 (44) PUSH
Spread 4.5 Spread -4.5 LSU

We don’t know what LSU looks like yet, as their contest against McNeese State was one of several to be adversely impacted by the South’s recent spate of bad weather; here, it was so bad they cancelled the game. Mississippi State toyed around with an improving Southern Miss squad in their house before pulling away in the second half. All the offensive elements are still there for Dan Mullen’s team — Dak Prescott, De’Runnya Wilson, and Fred Ross are back, and it looks like they’re replacing Josh Robinson by committee — but the big question is how the front seven performs down several starters from a year ago.

That’s particularly important this week, as LSU brings in burgeoning star running back Leonard Fournette, who could have a field day if the revamped Bulldog defense isn’t up to snuff. On the other hand, LSU’s defense is still full of talent, but their longtime head man is in College Station these days after John Chavis bolted for Texas A&M this offseason. Prescott will blow this game wide open given the opportunity, but I’m leaning toward the stats and going with LSU.

THE PICK: LSU Tigers, straight up and to cover.

Cakewalks

Fresno State Bulldogs at Ole Miss Rebels, Saturday September 12th
2:30 PM CDT / 3:30 PM EDT, ESPN

The Matchup
OLE MISS FRESNO STATE THE EDGE
F/+ 47.2% (9) F/+ -21.4% (94) OLE MISS
FEI 0.178 (11) FEI -0.081 (91) OLE MISS
S&P+ 21.8 (7) S&P+ -8.3 (96) OLE MISS
FPI 25.5 (2) FPI -9.6 (105) OLE MISS
OS&P+ 43.0 (13) DS&P+ 26.3 (58) OLE MISS
DS&P+ 21.2 (41) OS&P+ 18.0 (110) OLE MISS
Spread -30.0 Spread 30.0 OLE MISS

This looks bad — maybe Ole Miss will break 80!

THE PICK: Ole Miss Rebels, straight up and to cover.

Georgia Bulldogs at Vanderbilt Commodores, Saturday September 12th
2:30 PM CDT / 3:30 PM EDT, CBS

The Matchup
VANDERBILT GEORGIA THE EDGE
F/+ -10.0% (78) F/+ 53.1% (5) GEORGIA
FEI -0.042 (76) FEI 0.211 (5) GEORGIA
S&P+ -2.9 (75) S&P+ 23.1 (4) GEORGIA
FPI 4.3 (53) FPI 24.3 (5) GEORGIA
OS&P+ 19.2 (106) DS&P+ 20.9 (39) GEORGIA
DS&P+ 22.1 (42) OS&P+ 44.0 (12) GEORGIA
Spread 21.0 Spread -21.0 GEORGIA

There is a slight difference in quality between these two teams. Avert thine eyes, unless you’re just jonesing to listen to Uncle Verne ramble on about Nick Chubb’s shoulder moves.

THE PICK: Georgia Bulldogs, straight up and to cover.

Toledo Rockets at Arkansas Razorbacks, Saturday September 12th
3 PM CDT / 4 PM EDT, SEC Network

The Matchup
ARKANSAS TOLEDO THE EDGE
F/+ 34.4% (23) F/+ 4.2% (55) ARKANSAS
FEI 0.12 (27) FEI 0.034 (47) ARKANSAS
S&P+ 17.4 (17) S&P+ 1.0 (61) ARKANSAS
FPI 19.4 (15) FPI 0.1 (68) ARKANSAS
OS&P+ 48.1 (6) DS&P+ 34.8 (89) ARKANSAS
DS&P+ 30.7 (68) OS&P+ 35.8 (36) TOLEDO
Spread -20.5 Spread 20.5 ARKANSAS

Nothing's changed, Toledo. Tune in to see what might have been with Phillip Ely, though!

THE PICK: Arkansas Razorbacks, straight up and to cover.

Ball State Cardinals at Texas A&M Aggies, Saturday September 12th
6 PM CDT / 7 PM EDT, ESPNU

The Matchup
TEXAS A&M BALL STATE THE EDGE
F/+ 35.8% (22) F/+ -1.5% (63) TEXAS A&M
FEI 0.147 (20) FEI 0.029 (52) TEXAS A&M
S&P+ 15.6 (23) S&P+ -3.2 (76) TEXAS A&M
FPI 24.0 (6) FPI -5.8 (89) TEXAS A&M
OS&P+ 28.1 (75) DS&P+ 38.2 (101) TEXAS A&M
DS&P+ 12.6 (14) OS&P+ 35.0 (41) TEXAS A&M
Spread -29.0 Spread 29.0 TEXAS A&M

The S&P+ margins actually point toward Ball State covering, but I think that’s early season wonkery going on. This shouldn’t be close.

THE PICK: Texas A&M Aggies, straight up and to cover.

East Carolina Pirates at Florida Gators, Saturday September 12th
6 PM CDT / 7 PM EDT, ESPN2

The Matchup
FLORIDA EAST CAROLINA THE EDGE
F/+ 11.5% (43) F/+ -2.4% (65) FLORIDA
FEI 0.032 (49) FEI 0.001 (59) FLORIDA
S&P+ 7.3 (42) S&P+ -1.0 (71) FLORIDA
FPI 17.1 (18) FPI -6.6 (94) FLORIDA
OS&P+ 38.5 (21) DS&P+ 36.1 (90) FLORIDA
DS&P+ 31.2 (73) OS&P+ 35.0 (40) EAST CAROLINA
Spread -20.5 Spread 20.5 FLORIDA

Coach Mac appears to have two quarterbacks to play with, and last week’s offensive explosion had to be a welcome sight to anyone unfortunate enough to be a Gators fan.

THE PICK: Florida Gators, straight up and to cover.

Missouri Tigers at Arkansas State Red Wolves, Saturday September 12th
6 PM CDT / 7 PM EDT, ESPN3

The Matchup
ARKANSAS STATE MISSOURI THE EDGE
F/+ -6.7% (72) F/+ 37.6% (20) MISSOURI
FEI -0.029 (74) FEI 0.158 (17) MISSOURI
S&P+ -1.5 (73) S&P+ 15.9 (22) MISSOURI
FPI -3.9 (80) FPI 10.0 (32) MISSOURI
OS&P+ 29.6 (67) DS&P+ 12.8 (15) MISSOURI
DS&P+ 31.2 (71) OS&P+ 28.8 (69) PUSH
Spread 10.5 Spread -10.5 MISSOURI

This actually may not be a cakewalk, as Missouri is but a 10.5 point favorite playing on the road against the Red Wolves. Maty Mauk is the new Dr. Bo, apparently, so there’s some room for surprise here. I can’t get past the shellacking Arkansas State took at the hands of USC last week, though.

THE PICK: Missouri Tigers, straight up and to cover.

ROLL TIDE