I mentioned a while back that Sunday Morning Quarterback was doing a series of posts that would provide a careful analysis of what statistics over the course of the 2006 season most closely correlated with wins and losses.
SMQ has posted his SEC analysis, and I thought I’d take a look at some of his results for 2006 and try to factor specifically where the Dawgs fit in. Quite frankly, it’s underwhelming.
To start with, I would never have guessed what stat he found most closely matched success and failure this past season. In 2006, SEC teams that had the greater average yards per pass in a game won at better than a 76% clip. Breaking it down even further, teams that averaged 8 to 12 yards per pass in a game went 23-6 last year. That’s just about an 80% ratio.
How did the Dawgs do in this category? Well, for the season, Georgia was eighth in the conference, at 7.0 yards per pass. There were only three games all year where the offense averaged better than 8.0 ypp, and Georgia won all three: S. Carolina, Mississippi State and Auburn (11.0 ypp was their best number all year). However, the Dawgs were the more successful team in this category in ten of their thirteen contests last year (they lost to Vandy and Kentucky with a better ypp, and beat Ole Miss with a worse ypp). All in all, that’s pretty consistent with SMQ‘s findings.
The second most relevant stat to wins and losses was also something I wouldn’t have expected – the SEC team scoring first last year won better than 68% of the time. Georgia scored first in eight 2006 games, so at first glance that doesn’t seem too out of line, but a closer look reveals that there’s no correlation between this stat and the results in five of the games (Colorado, Mississippi, Tennessee, Vandy and Georgia Tech). Not that significant, in other words.
Most of the rest is like that. Rushing offense followed wins and losses approximately 67% of the time (that’s one I would have thought would have been more significant). Georgia was seventh in rushing offense in the conference last year. In thirteen games, the Dawgs outrushed their opponents nine times, but when you matchup the stat up against the actual wins and losses, six games are out of sync (Colorado, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vandy, Kentucky and Georgia Tech). In short, it’s pretty much the same story as scoring first.
Sure, it’s interesting to see that penalties had so little to do with winning, but overall, the message I got from the post was that the stats shed more heat than light as to why SEC teams win or lose. As SMQ put it to sum up:
Essentially, if a team managed to crack 200 yards rushing, hit a big pass or two, not give the ball away and get called for holding a lot, it was a winner in the SEC.
In other words, move on, there’s not much to see here, folks.
Actually, the one stat that jumped out at me in the article was the incredibly low number of times (four) in the SEC last year a team threw for more than 300 yards in a game. Considering that two of those occasions came in the same game – Vandy/Kentucky – that’s really amazing. Were SEC secondaries that good? Or was it a down year for QBs and/or receivers?