February 20, 2017

8 Plays: Linebackers

Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware (10) celebrate the fourth down stop. GWINN DAVIS / FOR POST AND COURIER

8 plays from the Clemson linebackers.

 

Previous Editions:

8 plays from Jordan Leggett

8 plays from Wayne Gallman

8 plays from the defensive backfield

8 plays from Mike Williams

CFB Trends: Part 6

Other than points, perhaps the most important metric in college football – yards per play. Out of all the metrics I track, none has a higher winning percentage than winning the yards per play advantage over your opponent – not even winning the turnover battle.  The gap has held relatively steady – starting at 1.25 in 2011 and sitting at 1.26 in 2016, though there have been some swings (2013!) along the way.

But again, year in and year out, the fact remains – more plays, more yards and especially more yards per play = winner.

Previously in Series:
CFB Trends Part 1 – Home field advantage?
CFB Trends Part 2 – Vegas knows – favorites win
CFB Trends Part 3 – You’re not imagining it – scoring is up
CFB Trends Part 4 – Everybody runs 70 plays a game
 CFB Trends Part 5 – Yards, yards and yards

CFB Trends – Part 5

Yards matter. Sure, there’s games where the team with less yards win, but it’s more likely that the team with more yards is going to win the game – which makes the stat we just looked at – plays per game – important and the one up next – yards per play – even more important.  The graph below makes the big picture clear: Teams that gain more yards than their opponents win.

Not only that, but the margin is getting larger.  In 2011 there was a 100 yard difference on average between winners and losers.  By 2016 that number had grown to 104.1.

Previously in Series:
CFB Trends Part 1 – Home field advantage?
CFB Trends Part 2 – Vegas knows – favorites win
CFB Trends Part 3 – You’re not imagining it – scoring is up
CFB Trends Part 4 – Everybody runs 70 plays a game
 

College Football Trends – Part 4

The numbers below are derived from 4,339 college football games between 2011-2016 that involved 2 FBS teams.

Remember when Chad Morris came to town and said 70 plays means Clemson wins?  Turns out he was right the vast majority of the time, but now “everybody” runs 70+ plays a game in college football.  One thing, however, has been consistent: Teams that run more plays on offense win more than than teams that run less.

Previously in Series:
CFB Trends Part 1 – Home field advantage?

CFB Trends Part 2 – Vegas knows – favorites win

CFB Trends Part 3 – You’re not imagining it – scoring is up

 

College Football Trends: Part 3

The numbers below are derived from 4,339 college football games between 2011-2016 that involved 2 FBS teams.

Does it seem like scoring is up in college football? Well it is as 2016 saw more points scored per game than any season since I began tracking in 2011. One could argue that 3.4 points per game is not that much. All the plays (coming soon in a chart), wild offenses, crazy formations and….3.4 points more per game?  That’s a 6.2% increase over 6 years.  Maybe it’s me, but 1% a year doesn’t sound as earth shattering as some would want you to believe.

On the other hand, 2016 saw a full point more per game than 2015 and the trend is definitely up and to the right on a graph.

Previously in Series:

CFB Trends Part 1 – Home field advantage?

CFB Trends Part 2 – Vegas knows – favorites win

College Football Trends – Part 2

The numbers below are derived from 4,339 college football games between 2011-2016 that involved 2 FBS teams.

Vegas generally knows what they’re doing, despite the spreads in the Fiesta Bowl and National Championship games.  If you’re team is favored, you’re likely to win that day.  The numbers below are for all point spreads and as you can imagine the bigger the spread the more likely it is that the favored team wins.

Previously in series:

CFB Trends Part 1 – Home field advantage?

College Football Trends – Part 1

The numbers below are derived from 4,339 college football games between 2011-2016 that involved 2 FBS teams.

When we think of college football, we often think of the dominant home teams and the “home field advantage”.  While it’s true that certain teams have a home field advantage, it may not be as big as believed once you take out FCS opponents, as shown in the numbers below.

Win Probabilities for the National Championship Game

Last week I was a man on an island and ended up being the lone voice of reason, picking Clemson to defeat Ohio State.

As you may have expected, this week is more of the same with ESPN, SBNation and Character34 all picking the Crimson Tide.

I can’t say that I really “fault” their computers for spitting out Alabama as the Tide has rolled through 2016 and even though my needle points towards Clemson, it’s a very slight point.

My formula likely puts more emphasis on yards than the others and also contains a healthy does of yards per play – two areas I suspect Clemson will have an advantage in, be it ever so slight.

A second consecutive nail biter in the National Championship game? Let’s rock.

Win Probabilities – Clemson/Ohio State & Alabama/Washington

I am a man on an island. At least as far as the win probabilities below for the Fiesta Bowl, mine is the lone computer that spit out orange.  But it was close.

The reality is though that a 51% win probability is a pick’em game that can turn on any play.  My friend Chris Scully over at Character34.com doesn’t see it being quite as close and Bill C. at SB Nation is predicting a 29.4 to 24.5 (to be precise) Ohio State victory.

For what it’s worth, I’m 11-2 on the season on Clemson games, losing Louisville (49.5% win probability, another one play game) and Pittsburgh (everyone in the world was wrong on this one).  Also, as evidenced by my pick in the Louisville game, my computer doesn’t always spit out Clemson.

In the other semi it’s a clean sweep, again with my numbers closer to ESPNs, while SB Nation and Character34 are predicting an easier time for the Tide.

In general, my win probabilities are more conservative than any of the other 3, so I find it “interesting” that I ended up with Clemson while the others chose Ohio State, two of them at over 60%.

Guest Shots: Adam Hayes Predicts College Football Playoff Semifinals

Editor’s Note: Adam Hayes is a principal at the USS Sports Machine, where he and the team write about sports of every shape, size and type.  We thank Adam for his contributions. If you are a writer interested in contributing to Seldom Used Reserve, feel free to contact us at seldomusedreserve@gmail.com.

Peach Bowl

In the Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA on Dec. 31), SEC Champion #1 Alabama (13-0) plays Pac-12 Champion #4 Washington (12-1).The defending champs, the Crimson Tide are poised to be a huge thorn in Washington’s championship dreams.

Alabama’s juggernaut offense capabilities will on full show in the game due to the Huskies missing their lead pass rusher Joe Mathis, and lead tackler Azeem Victor. However, despite both players absence on the defensive end, Washington’s offensive inspires hope with the combo of Pac 12 offensive player of the year Jake Browning at the quarterback position and John Ross’s at Wide Receiver. If probabilities are any indication of success, many statistics sites believe Alabama’s offense will have a field day; FiveThirtyEight gives Alabama over a 64% chance of making the title game. I can’t see anything stopping the Tide in this one.

Prediction: Alabama 31 Washington 17

Fiesta Bowl

#3 Ohio State (11-1) plays ACC Champion #2 Clemson (12-1) in the Fiesta Bowl (Tempe, AZ on Dec. 31). Coming into the game, the Tigers have demonstrated that they have a very consistent offensive over the course of the season by averaging 500+ YPG, 40 PPG and converting on 85% of red zone visits. The Tigers offensive ability comes in contrast to the Buckeyes who had an excellent defensive season by allowing only 276 YPG, 14 PPG and most importantly a lot of turnovers. The battle between good offense and great defense will be difficult for both teams. However, Good defensive teams can be tough to defeat which is something Ohio State showed the world by winning the CFP in 2014.

While both teams sport a loss, like Alabama both have spent nearly the entire season firmly in the playoff discussion. Ohio State’s victory in perhaps the game of the season against Michigan earned them a spot despite not winning the Big 10 conference championship, while Clemson dominated the ACC even after a shock upset to Pitt. Deshaun Watson has been fantastic throughout the season using both his passing and running capabilities and will need a massive performance against the Buckeyes. I’m giving the Tigers the edge.

Prediction: Clemson 24 Ohio State 20