That does not compute.

I posted a couple of days ago about Sunday Morning Quarterback’s initial analysis of stats and how they correlated to wins in the 2007-8 season.  Specifically, I was curious to see how Georgia’s statistical performance stacked up in light of the 10 win season and lofty ranking after the Sugar Bowl.

My initial conclusion was that, while Georgia’s statistical performance in the top eight categories that SMQ found most closely correlated to wins and losses wasn’t bad, it wasn’t as impressive as the stats from some other schools that finished with similar records.   (I suspect there’s more to the story, but I haven’t figured out what that might be yet.)

Anyway, SMQ has posted his second installment on the matter and it seems to confirm my initial impression.  He charts the statistical rankings in nine categories of every D-1 team that finished with at least 10 wins last season and takes an average.  Georgia’s average of 41.7 is fourth worst among the sixteen teams listed that are in BCS conferences.  (As a comparison, LSU’s 17.9 is second best.)

More damning is the chart he compiles that matches the AP top 20 against each schools statistical average.  Georgia, ranked second, but carrying a 14th ranked statistical average, has one of the biggest negative spreads on the list.  Which in turn leads to this telling comment:

Is it significant that the three teams that finished much better in the polls than on paper (Georgia, Tennessee and Auburn) are all from the SEC? Probably, though for different reasons depending on your perspective: either pollsters are so blinded in favor of the mythical speeeeeeed in the conference they chronically overrate its members, or the SEC is just too tough to compare to other girlie conferences. They’re probably both right.

I do think that one thing that is lacking in this analysis is factoring in something for strength of schedule.  But even were that included, it wouldn’t explain the significant disparity in the results for LSU and Georgia, would it?  Everything I’m seeing in this analysis reinforces my opinion that LSU was the best team in the country last season.  The numbers just tell me that it really wasn’t that close.

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13 Comments

Filed under College Football, Stats Geek!

13 responses to “That does not compute.

  1. Joe Blow

    It also shows that what CMR said in the middle of the season, game planning emotion was AS important as Xs and Os. For the first time since 02/03 we were focused, confident and had that intangible, which makes winners of teams that aren’t necessarily enormously better than the other guy. UF never was in that game, but played pretty well, almost matching us each drive. Almost doesn’t do it though. (I remember going to the UT game in 94 and we matched them field goal for touch down right down the field!)

    This year, we dealt the knock out blow we hadn’t for a couple years. MoMass TD vs UF was huge, as was the Moreno TD and Drive after AU came back. All defining moments, you can catch us, but you can’t over take us. That’s what the great ones do. (See Patriots last 5-7 games or so!)

  2. kckd

    Stats many times don’t tell you how dominant a team is either. We dominated Hawaii more than USC dominated Illinois, but if you just read the boxscore you’d never know it.

  3. kckd, I agree with that, at least on a single game basis.

    I do think that over the course of a season, though, some of this stuff becomes more telling.

    In other words, I’m not saying that Georgia couldn’t have beaten LSU at season’s end – of course the Dawgs could have – but I do think that for the year as a whole, LSU was a more dominant team.

  4. Also Georgia’s season last year was marked by a team that was constantly improving and getting stronger as the season went on which could very well have something to do with the rankings. Over the course of the whole season, yeah Georgia was not as dominate as LSU, one only need look at the Tenn. game to see that, so I dont have many problems with what these stats are telling me.

  5. Also Georgia’s season last year was marked by a team that was constantly improving and getting stronger as the season went on which could very well have something to do with the rankings.

    I thought of that too, but there are other teams that had strong second halves that came out better statistically speaking than did Georgia (USC comes to mind, for example).

    Besides that, Georgia’s stats overall didn’t change that drastically over the last seven games of the year.

    Like I said, it’s a little puzzling. We all saw how solid the team looked over that period. The winning streak is impressive. It doesn’t seem to be reflected in the stats as I would have expected, though.

  6. Joe

    Stats are for losers!

    Wins & Losses…..thats all that counts

  7. kckd

    I guess my point is Senator, I’m not getting what this you’re trying to say here. Is it that the Dawgs aren’t as good as we think they are because these stats someone found that normally go along with dominant teams aren’t stats the Dawgs of 2007 were dominant in?

    I generally go by wins and losses, watching the games and getting a feel for who is dominant. We played two very good teams the second half of the year and were pretty dominant.

    We played about three decent teams the second half of the year, didn’t play our best, but still won in double digits and by the fourth quarter weren’t sweating much.

    We played our bowl game against a team that was supposed to give us trouble and squashed them before the half.

    If the stats say we weren’t as good as the rest of the teams on the list, the stats are FOS.

  8. tkusant

    I lived in ATL for 6 years. I don’t understand why noboby roots for Tech there. I went to games in Athens, you guys don’t know football, just about the damn dawgs. Its all ya know buddy.

  9. kckd

    Well stay longer and enlighten us. What do we not know?

  10. Shadrach

    Let’s not dig too deep into stats regarding with as many emotional peaks, valleys and plateaus as football. Paper captures far too little of what really happens on the gridiron. As a person with considerable academic and professional knowlegde of statistics, and how they’re used incorrectly, I caution with this reminder. “There’s lies, damned lies, and statistics”.

    Really enjoy the blog.

    Hail to Georgia

  11. Always one of my favorite quotes, here’s the full statement from Disraeli:

    According to a saying credited to Lord Beaconsfield, there are three kinds of mendacity—lies, blank lies, and statistics. This means, doubtless, that nobody with a cause to maintain it ever lacked figures with which to do it.

    I couldn’t agree more. But that’s not where I’m coming from with this post.

    Keep in mind that neither SMQ nor I have claimed that there is anything more that a correlation between the stats and the records. Arguing as a general principal that good teams generate good stats would seem to be logical, but it certainly shouldn’t be taken to mean that all good teams will generate equivalently good statistics. There will always be individual anomalies.

    Recognizing that Georgia may be such a case shouldn’t be taken as a reason to minimize what the Dawgs accomplished last season. It simply means that we have to look to other areas to try to explain Georgia’s success.

  12. Shadrach

    Agree, Senator.

    You’re right, something drove this team to acheive much more than most of us thought possible in early October. But, as you correctly point out, it’s something that probably isn’t measurable. What my Alma Mater does have is a reliable hand at the wheel and that’s money in the bank.

  13. kckd

    Olin Buchanan has a nice article up looking at what most of the past ten BCS champions have in common and UGA fits the bill in every category, so do a few other teams including Alabama.