Week #14 National Rankings and Gator Bowl Predictions

Submitted by Enjoy Life on December 14th, 2010 at 5:01 PM

imageWhere's Waldo (i.e. The Offense)?: Yikes – 7 points?? An average of just 20.7 points over the last 3 games. Because of poor execution and unforced errors, the offense slowed to a dismal pace (20.7 points per game would rank #104). Let's hope all they need is a few weeks rest.

Synopsis: Looking at Conference Only game stats, the offense ended the year at #4 and the defense at #10 (thank you, Indiana). Last year the offense was #9 and the defense was #11 in conference only games. A comparison of national rankings for 2008 – 2010 is below.

imageI use scoring stats because yardage stats are inherently flawed. According to the FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index) rankings at Football Outsiders, Michigan ended the regular season ranked #44 overall (4.8% better than the average FBS team) with a SoS ranking of #66. The offense is ranked #2 and the defense is ranked #103. Field Position Advantage is #91 while Field Goal Efficiency is #120.

For the Gator Bowl, a rough calculation of the FEI has Mississippi State favored by 4 points. Using the Sagarin Predictor, MSU is favored by 5 points. Vegas has MSU favored by 5.

image2008 – 2010 National Rankings: Not any surprises. The offense has gotten much better each year and the defense has gone from terrible to worse to "that which cannot be mentioned".

DETAILS: Here are the FEI numbers ( FEI Forecasts and Football Outsiders FEI ). FEI is a weighted and opponent adjusted season efficiency and is expressed as a percentage as compared with an average FBS team. The average team will have an index of approximately 0.00. Teams below average have negative index values.

imageNote that FEI completely excludes all non-FBS data (the W-L record is only for FBS games, etc.). Therefore, you need to add 1 to FBS-MW to get the final predicted wins for M this year. Or, if you use FBS-RMW, you need to add 1 to the current W-L record to get the final predicted wins for M this year. BTW, the difference between FBS-MW and FBS-RMW is the number of FBS games each team would have been expected to win to date.


The FEI is a drive based analysis considering each of the nearly 20,000 drives each year in college football. The data is filtered to eliminate garbage time (at the half or end of game) and is adjusted for opponent. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams (win or lose) and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams. I've included the GE basic data so you can see the impact of adjusting for opponent.  (See: Football Outsiders Our Basic College Stats )

Here are the Sagarin Ratings.


Sagarin uses two basic ratings: PREDICTOR (in which the score MARGIN is the only thing that matters) and ELO-CHESS (in which winning and losing only matters, the score margin is of no consequence). The overall rating is a synthesis of the two diametrical opposites, ELO-CHESS and PREDICTOR.

Per Sagarin: ELO-CHESS is “very politically correct. However, it is less accurate in its predictions for upcoming games than is PREDICTOR”.

Here is the basic data for Michigan (each individual week followed by totals and then average per game). I've included Total Possessions for Offense & Defense along with the calculated data per possession. Number of possessions do not include running out the clock at the half or end of game. Offense Plays and Defense Plays are better indicators than Time of Possession.


Using Scoring Offense and Scoring Defense National Rankings for the past 5 years (FBS AQ teams only), this table shows the percentage of teams that finish the season with a +WLM and a +5 WLM. For example, teams that finished in the Top 40 in both offense and defense had a 100% chance to be +WLM and an 82% chance to be +5 WLM (9-4 or better).


Each year, of the 66 FBS AQ teams, 65% (43 teams) end up with a + WLM and 36% (24 teams) end up with a +5 WLM.


Crime Reporter

December 14th, 2010 at 5:29 PM ^

Well done.

If only we had an average defense. Looking it over again, we allowed less than 20 points in only two games this year. Two. Opposing teams were held under 30 points in four games. Gah.


December 14th, 2010 at 11:53 PM ^

You also have to consider that with even a mediocre defense the offense would not feel the need to score on every possession, and some of the turnovers could have been avoided.  Against both MSU and Iowa some of the turnovers came when we were forced to press on offense, knowing that our defense would not be able to stop anybody.

oriental andrew

December 14th, 2010 at 6:07 PM ^

I lower-case osu, too, but also lower-case msu (ytmsu).  

So our defense performed appreciably worse than the last 2 seasons statistically, but was the defense actually worse?  What I mean is, would we have seen better results with the 2008 or 2009 defenses on the field in 2010?  Would 2008 or 2009 have been worse with the 2010 defense on the field?  I get the feeling it would have been sucky regardless and our results would not have been much different.  No, the clear differentiator between 2008/2009/2010 is the offense.


December 15th, 2010 at 1:12 AM ^

In 2008 and 2009, we had Brandon Graham single handedly pressuring QBs and changing blocking schemes.  Nobody had to call a blitz to be disruptive...

This year, it was like we took a "prevent" approach with contain pressure from 3 DLs, and dropping into zones all over the place.

I believe the personnel on this defense could have been much more effective with a more aggressive approach.  Most of our DBs are more comfortable in man, and could hold coverage long enough if we were putting pressure on the QB.

I like a lot of the guys on this defense, and we have some more young guys that should contribute next year.

oriental andrew

December 15th, 2010 at 7:54 AM ^

To be fair, though, many of us also expected M over msu and PSU, Ill was about as close as you could get, and ND was also a pretty tight game needing late-game heroics.  So the raw result was off, but they were not unreasonable predictions.