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Advanced Stats Rundown, Football Edition | Week of September 26th, 2015

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A PAC-12 showcase and Coach Mac's reintroduction to the Viles headline this week's Advanced Stats Rundown

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-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.
All betting lines courtsy of BetOnline.ag via ESPN, because they’re first on the list and I’m lazy.

So, how’d last week go?

Aside from the abomination that was the Tide game,[1] last week was OK. Picked up five of eight both straight up and against the spread, which is just fine with me. Georgia Tech and Arkansas forgot to show up, an unfortunate circumstance that prevented a truly outstanding week.

1 | Although I picked Ole Miss to cover, so for ASR purposes it wasn’t all bad.

2015, Straight Up: 22/31 (71.0%)
2015, Against the Spread: 14/31 (45.2%)

All statistics and spreads as of September 25th , 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

The Viles at Florida Gators, Saturday September 26th
2:30 PM CDT / 3:30 PM EDT, CBS

Overall Quality
FLORIDA THE VILES THE EDGE
F/+ 13.0% (44) F/+ 27.1% (25) THE VILES
FPI 13.5 (25) FPI 18.3 (13) THE VILES
FEI 0.027 (53) FEI 0.097 (31) THE VILES
S&P+ 9.6 (34) S&P+ 14.2 (20) THE VILES
OS&P+ 29.7 (61) DS&P+ 19.2 (22) THE VILES
DS&P+ 20.2 (25) OS&P+ 33.4 (43) FLORIDA
Home Spread EVEN PUSH

Ugh, clash of orange teams.[2] Through three weeks these appear to be your two teams vying for second place behind Georgia in the SEC East, although Saturday will be the SEC opener for the Viles. They are so close at this stage that Vegas punted on a line, and that situation warrants a bit deeper analysis than usual.[3]

2 | Orange is not a color that should be permitted in college football / organized sports. #KeepOrangeForOranges

3 | This sentence is not the result of me writing too much about this game and then covering my rear, definitely not.

Both teams enter with as many or more unanswered questions as they had at the start of the year. Coach Mac hasn’t quite solved the offensive woes prevalent during Will Muschamp’s tenure in Gainesville, and to make matters worse he’s apparently inherited some of Coach Boom’s motivational strategies. The Gators — survived? — a scrappy Kentucky squad in Lexington last week via an ugly 14-9 finish. Rebuilding Florida should be easy with the built-in recruiting advantages of the state, but it’s not a process that happens in the course of one offseason.

The Viles entered into 2015 with considerable hype, as the first two recruiting classes of Butch Jones’ time up north begin to approach contributing age. The talent is certainly there — Jalen Hurd is the real deal, former Tide transfer Alvin Kamara provides the nice change of pace in the backfield, and Joshua Dobbs is definitely the dual-threat quarterback of Jones’ dreams now — but mental fortitude is a cultural thing that takes a bit longer to develop. The home loss to Oklahoma was an embarrassing collapse that underscored how much farther this team has to go on that front. This week’s game against the hated Gators provides another opportunity for growth.

In this case, we have a whole lot of creamsicle in the chart, as the Viles have a pretty good edge on the Gators all the way down the line. The one exception is the Gators defense, which according to DS&P+ has a slight edge on the Viles. A less rosy outlook will accompany UF’s offensive possessions, as the stats say the Viles defense has a solid edge over the anemic Florida attack.

Looking into the S&P+ splits a little deeper reveals a defensive struggle based on strength-versus-strength. Curiously, despite a left side of the offensive line wholly comprised of fifth-year seniors and no less a talent than Kelvin Taylor running the ball, the Gators have been a passing team through three weeks, with the Will Grier / Treon Harris debate still unsettled.[4] Unfortunately for them, pass defense is what the Viles do best, currently rated #5 overall on Passing Downs[5] and #21 overall against the pass in general.

4 | Harris is suspended, so it will be all Grier Saturday.

5 | All due to ‘Turn Down For What’, I ‘m sure.

On the other side, all those rushers I mentioned earlier will be running smack into a quality Florida defensive front seven led by seniors Jonathan Bullard and Antonio Morrison, who currently have the Gators 7th in the country against the run according to S&P+. The loss of cornerback Jalen Tabor, who like Harris is suspended this week, will hurt, but defense is not the problem in Gainesville. Honestly, I don’t see either offense putting up many points in this one.

So who wins? By punting on a point line Vegas basically called it for The Viles by a field goal at a neutral site, but this one’s being played at the Swamp. You could go either way, but I’m taking the Gators — I guess I’m a lesser of two evils kind of guy.

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

National Game of the Week, Non-SEC Division

UCLA Bruins at Arizona Wildcats, Saturday September 26th
7 PM CDT / 8 PM EDT, ESPN

Overall Quality
ARIZONA UCLA THE EDGE
F/+ 15.9% (39) F/+ 43.1% (12) UCLA
FPI 11.1 (32) FPI 16.5 (18) UCLA
FEI 0.096 (32) FEI 0.207 (7) UCLA
S&P+ 5.2 (48) S&P+ 16.9 (16) UCLA
OS&P+ 39.1 (14) DS&P+ 17.8 (18) PUSH
DS&P+ 33.9 (94) OS&P+ 34.7 (34) UCLA
Home Spread 3.0 UCLA

In a week devoid of truly marquee matchups on the order of last week’s clash between the Tide and Rebels, all the casual eyes will rest upon the PAC-12 on Saturday,[6] as Utah-Oregon and Arizona-UCLA are both huge, huge intraconference matchups. When in doubt, I go for the tighter line, so the latter game it is.

6 | No disrespect intended to BYU and their similarly juicy game, albeit with all disrespect intended toward their opponent.

At first this seems puzzling, as the stats have this as a close but comfortable victory for the Bruins. Ah, but that home field advantage is important. Remember, Tucson is where hope goes to die: Lane Kiffin’s tenure at USC began to unravel there in 2012, Oregon’s national championship run implode there in 2013, and Arizona State's trip to the PAC-12 title game evaporated there just last season. RichRod has found himself a comfortable home in the desert, and he has that old Desert Swarm defense up and running to complement his take on the spread option.

Well, sort of, anyway. Last year’s crew finished a very solid 27th overall in DFEI, but this season’s been a bit less successful, with the Wildcats defense slotted in at #94 overall according to S&P+. Noting their pathetically low ratings in Pass DS&P+ and defensive Adjusted Sack Rate, and the culprit is pretty obvious — no Scooby Wright III means no pass rush, and no pass rush equals death in the wide-open PAC-12. Definitely not the situation you want to be in with Josh Rosen, Paul Perkins, and a lethal Bruins offense coming to town. The home field — along with super soph Anu Solomon at the helm of RichRod’s ever-potent offense — will keep this respectable, but the Bruins should cruise in this one.[7]

7 | Lope? Saunter? What do bears do?

THE PICK: UCLA Bruins, straight up and to cover.

Other SEC Games to Watch

Texas A&M Aggies vs. Arkansas Razorbacks, Saturday September 26th
6 PM CDT / 7 PM EDT, ESPN

Overall Quality
ARKANSAS TEXAS A&M THE EDGE
F/+ 24.7% (26) F/+ 36.2% (18) TEXAS A&M
FPI 12.3 (29) FPI 20.3 (10) TEXAS A&M
FEI 0.095 (33) FEI 0.177 (15) TEXAS A&M
S&P+ 12.1 (26) S&P+ 14.1 (21) PUSH
OS&P+ 43.2 (9) DS&P+ 24.2 (39) ARKANSAS
DS&P+ 31.1 (77) OS&P+ 38.3 (19) TEXAS A&M
Home Spread 6.5 TEXAS A&M

Arkansas saddens me. I’m an unabashed fanboy appreciative connoisseur of old-school manball, and the Razorbacks were slated to bring that in full force during Bert’s third season in Fayetteville. The pre-season loss of Jonathan Williams, coupled with continually atrocious quarterback play from much-maligned Brandon Allen,[8] has sent that train careening off the tracks, and Arkansas is in panic mode after consecutive losses to middling out-of-conference foes. The schedule only gets harder from here, so ol’ Bert either needs to right the ship or start polishing up his resume. Unfortunately, a red-hot Aggies offense and an improved Aggies defense await them in JerryWorld, so a hypothetical return to grace will have to begin another week.

8 | Seriously, before you criticize Coker or Bateman, consider how bad it could be first.

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

Mississippi St. Bulldogs at API WarPlainsEagleTigers, Saturday September 26th
6:30 PM CDT / 7:30 PM EDT, ESPN2

Overall Quality
API MISSISSIPPI STATE THE EDGE
F/+ 20.6% (32) F/+ 28.0% (23) PUSH
FPI 11.7 (31) FPI 14.5 (21) PUSH
FEI 0.108 (28) FEI 0.12 (26) PUSH
S&P+ 7.8 (39) S&P+ 12.4 (23) MISSISSIPPI STATE
OS&P+ 33.9 (40) DS&P+ 26.1 (53) API
DS&P+ 26.1 (52) OS&P+ 38.5 (17) MISSISSIPPI STATE
Home Spread -2.5 API

It’s tempting to call this a wash from the outset, as it looks like the wheels are flying off the Gus Bus in West Georgia these days. I’m not normally one to daisy-chain games, but LSU just finished embarrassing little brother a week after holding off State by two in Starkvegas. Home fields make a difference, but not quite that big.

API is changing quarterbacks again after Heisman Trophy Pre-Winner Jeremy Johnson fell flat on his face trying to replace Nick Marshall. I know nothing about the replacement, Sean White, aside from his consensus four-star rating back in 2014. He wasn’t good enough to beat out Johnson in camp, which speaks volumes as far as I’m concerned. Duke Williams is still AWOL, and while the defense is occasionally doing good things now with Muschamp on board, it hasn’t been enough. The world’s largest video board didn’t do much for them against Jacksonville State, and as much as I would like to respect the impact of Jordan-Hare, I’m just not seeing it. It will be another 20+ years before State attains the heights of last season, so enjoy the small gifts — like this win — of Dak Prescott’s final year while they last, CLANGA.

THE PICK: Mississippi State Bulldogs, straight up and to cover.

Missouri Tigers at Kentucky Wildcats, Saturday September 26th
6:30 PM CDT / 7:30 PM EDT, SEC Network

Overall Quality
KENTUCKY MISSOURI THE EDGE
F/+ -8.8% (72) F/+ 24.1% (29) MISSOURI
FPI 7.0 (46) FPI 7.5 (43) PUSH
FEI -0.06 (81) FEI 0.131 (22) MISSOURI
S&P+ -0.2 (66) S&P+ 8.7 (37) MISSOURI
OS&P+ 28.3 (74) DS&P+ 10.7 (4) MISSOURI
DS&P+ 28.5 (64) OS&P+ 19.3 (113) KENTUCKY
Home Spread -3 KENTUCKY

Kentucky’s still Kentucky, but to Mark Stoops’ credit they are not an easy out this season. In what’s becoming classic SEC-era Missouri, the offense is a tire fire, but the defense is among the nation’s strongest. The Tigers have struggled mightily against FBS also-rans in Arkansas State and Connecticut, neither of which are at the level of Kentucky.[9] The stats are still respecting last year’s division-winning squad,[10] but last year’s crew lost a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. This seems like a mismatch on paper, but I’m going with Vegas and taking the Wildcats.

9 | Shh, I don’t care that the Red Wolves are neck and neck with the Wildcats. I’m trying to construct a narrative here!

10 | That had the same issues… get ready, Georgia!

THE PICK: Kentucky Wildcats, straight up and to cover.

Cakewalks

UCF Knights at South Carolina Gamecocks, Saturday September 26th
11 AM CDT / 12 EDT, ESPNU

Overall Quality
SOUTH CAROLINA CENTRAL FLORIDA THE EDGE
F/+ 20.0% (33) F/+ -9.4% (77) SOUTH CAROLINA
FPI 7.5 (44) FPI -7.5 (98) SOUTH CAROLINA
FEI 0.085 (34) FEI 0.008 (59) SOUTH CAROLINA
S&P+ 9.3 (35) S&P+ -8.1 (95) SOUTH CAROLINA
OS&P+ 38.7 (16) DS&P+ 24.5 (42) SOUTH CAROLINA
DS&P+ 29.4 (69) OS&P+ 16.4 (125) SOUTH CAROLINA
Home Spread -14.5 SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolina looks like an awful, awful team that will be lucky to go bowling this season. Fortunately for them, at least this week: UCF is awfuler.

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

LSU Tigers at Syracuse Orange, Saturday September 26th
11 AM CDT / 12 EDT, ESPN

Overall Quality
SYRACUSE LSU THE EDGE
F/+ -10.4% (80) F/+ 49.9% (5) LSU
FPI -1.0 (72) FPI 25.0 (2) LSU
FEI -0.1 (98) FEI 0.199 (10) LSU
S&P+ 1.7 (60) S&P+ 22.7 (6) LSU
OS&P+ 27.0 (82) DS&P+ 20.8 (26) LSU
DS&P+ 25.3 (46) OS&P+ 43.5 (8) LSU
Home Spread 24.5 LSU

Syracuse, meet Leonard Fournette! Props to LSU for scheduling outside the footprint.

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

Vanderbilt Commodores at Ole Miss Rebels, Saturday September 26th
6 PM CDT / 7 PM EDT, ESPNU

Overall Quality
OLE MISS VANDERBILT THE EDGE
F/+ 53.2% (4) F/+ -9.0% (74) OLE MISS
FPI 28.6 (1) FPI 2.6 (58) OLE MISS
FEI 0.213 (5) FEI -0.038 (73) OLE MISS
S&P+ 24.2 (5) S&P+ -2.5 (75) OLE MISS
OS&P+ 43.8 (7) DS&P+ 23.8 (36) OLE MISS
DS&P+ 19.6 (24) OS&P+ 21.4 (109) OLE MISS
Home Spread -26.5 OLE MISS

Vanderbilt’s defense is good, but they aren’t nearly good enough for what’s about to happen. I’m picking Ole Miss to cover until they do otherwise.

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

ROLL TIDE