Geometric logic ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Captain Queeg: Ahh, but the strawberries that’s… that’s where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with… geometric logic… that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist, and I’d have produced that key if they hadn’t of pulled the Caine out of action. I, I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officers…

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If you read the Tech message boards, you can find any number of insect posters who firmly – nay, passionately - believe that statistically speaking at least, the game on Saturday is a tossup between the 7-4 Yellow Jackets and the 9-2 Bulldogs.

It’s a carefully crafted argument, I grant you that. Georgia’s losses and close calls are magnified…

Yes, I’ve watched the Mighty Conquerers struggle against Vandy, Bama (!), and Troy (!!). I’ve seen them lose – again – to Darth and USC (E) and get waxed for the second straight year by UT. As I said, the ball bounced your way in most of those games; it didn’t bounce our way against MD or UVA. We both have a quality win: UF for you, Clempson for us. You’ve been blown out once by a quality team; we’ve been beat soundly by two.

… while, of course the Dawg wins are rationalized away.

You needed OT to beat a Bama team that got beaten at home by Louisiana Monroe.

You caught Florida at the right time and rode an emotional high coupled with several Gator injuries to a win.

Auburn gifted UGA with four interceptions in the second half that led to 21 points after playing UGA tight in the first half.

Kentucky has been on a slide…losing to Florida and Mississippi State before narrowly beating Vandy in the previous three weeks. They are 7-4, same at Tech is…but with wins over Eastern Kentucky, Kent State, and Florida Atlantic to balance the miracle home upset over LSU.

There’s the “Georgia on the road struggles” thread…

UGA has only played three true road games this season

Squeaker win against mediocre Alabama 26-23
Squeaker against mediocre Vandy 20-17?
Blown out against Tennessee 35-14

… that calls for a retort so obvious that I’m not going to insult your intelligence by making it here.

There’s also the “two plays separate the schools” pitch that fans love to toss out to show that things are really much closer than the rational observer wants to credit:

Think about it. Two plays separate these two teams from identical records. If Vanderbilt doesn’t fumble and if Bell kicks the Maryland field goal, both these teams have identical records. That’s how fickle college football really is. Two plays separate two teams – one who still has articles written about how they can still sneak in the MNC game. The other is apparently so bad the coach may get canned. Two plays.

But, it’s the strawberries… er, uh, national stats where they think they’ve got the schools in a dead heat.

And a cursory inspection of Tech’s and Georgia’s team stats at the NCAA site does indeed show that Georgia Tech is the higher ranked team in total offense (#61 to #71), total defense (#7 to #22) and scoring defense (#16 to #22), while Georgia is the higher ranked team when it comes to scoring offense ( #33 to #64).

However, when you slide over to cfbstats.com and take a look at some of the key stat splits, this matchup isn’t nearly as close as these master logicians would have you believe.

First of all, one big difference to factor into the equation is that Georgia has faced eight teams with winning records this season. Georgia is 6-2 in those games. Tech has faced four and the Jackets are 1-3 against teams over .500.

You can find plenty of reasons for that. To start with, there’s a huge disparity in Tech’s total offense against teams with winning records (286.3 ypg) and losing records (452.1 ypg). The Georgia split is about 36 yards per game.

The same story is repeated when it comes to total defense. Tech holds losing teams to about 243 yards per game; teams with winning records have raked Tenuta’s defense at the rate of 397.5 yards per game. Georgia’s spread is 36.5 ypg.

And before you go arguing that the difference can be explained by the quality of each team’s opponents, keep in mind that these splits are similar for the schools when you break it down by ranked vs. unranked opponents (Tech has played four AP ranked schools; Georgia has played three). On total defense, there’s almost no difference in the Georgia splits, while Tech has given up almost 155 ypg more to ranked schools. It’s the same story on total offense – Georgia’s split (about 23 ypg) is dwarfed by that of Tech’s (about 166 ypg).

The splits for offensive and defensive scoring tell a similar story, although Tech’s defense doesn’t show the same degree of disparity in giving up points that it does in yardage.

So I’d be despondent right now if the Dawgs came in to this game at 2-9 instead of 9-2. Statistically, Tech’s made a living off of the Notre Dames and Samfords of the college football world this year. However, the quality of the Nats’ opponent this Saturday would indicate a much different result than the Techie partisans are insisting on today.

That’s not to suggest that this game will be dominated by the Dawgs, of course. It’s a rivalry game that’s pretty much boiling down to Tech’s season, unless you’re someone who sees the Emerald Bowl as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There’s also the “dead coach walking” aspect of the meeting that gives me pause for concern, as the last game where Georgia had to deal with that element didn’t play out too well.

But statistically on paper, please. You Euclideans need to go back to school on this one.

“Click, clack”, indeed.

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5 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Stats Geek!

5 responses to “Geometric logic ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  1. 81Dog

    Well played, sir. This concept of number crunching actually occured to me, but I was too lazy to follow through. After reading your analysis, I can only say mine would have been far inferior. Excellent work.

    GATA!

  2. GainesvilleRamblings

    Hey Senator,

    I’ve read your blog for a while, and even though I’m a Gator fan, I have to admit you do some darn fine work. I especially wanted to say that after you put up a quote from The Caine Mutiny, one of my new favorite books.

    Keep it up, and I don’t know about the rest of the Gator Nation, but I’m rooting for you guys to go to the SEC Championship game. I’d rather have a team that beat the Gators in it than a team that we demolished.

  3. Pingback: Beating the L-Tryptophan Blues: Thoughts on Georgia-Georgia Tech « Get The Picture

  4. Thanks to both of you guys for the kind words.

    And GR, here’s to hoping that Florida gets a chance to demolish the Zooker in a bowl game this year.

  5. I love equating Clemson to Florida as “quality wins.”

    Regardless of what happens on Saturday, Florida would beat Clemson by about 30.