Matt Melton, at his excellent site Statistically Speaking, has his analysis up of last year’s conference play, along with some thoughts about which schools will rise and which will fall in 2008. It’s a long, but rewarding read.
Matt’s statistical premise is to start with what the average SEC team gains and yields in yardage and scoring in conference play and then measures each team’s difference against those averages to come up with a power ranking. As he explains it,
The mean points scored and allowed for all SEC teams in conference play (Championship Game excluded) was 217.17 points. The standard deviation for points scored was 59.56. The standard deviation for points allowed was 38.15. South Carolina scored 205 points in SEC play and allowed 227. Their offensive SDPI was -0.20 = ([205-217.17]/59.56). Their defensive SDPI was -0.26 = ([217.17-227]/38.15). Their total SDPI for points (SDPIP) was -0.46 which ranked 8th in the conference. The mean yardage for and against for all SEC teams in conference play was 2926.75 yards. The standard deviation for yardage for was 395.45. The standard deviation for yards allowed was 311.52. South Carolina gained 2975 yards in conference play and allowed 3117. Their offensive SDPI was 0.12 = ([2975-2926.75]/395.45). Their defensive SDPI was -0.61 = ([2926.75-3117]/311.52). Their total SDPI for yards (SDPIY) was -0.49 which ranked 8th in the conference.
All of which boils down to South Carolina was a mediocre team in conference play last year.
There’s a lot of good stuff in there to absorb. The biggest surprise to me wasn’t Tennessee’s record vs. its statistical performance (as far as I can tell, UT is the only school to participate in a SECCG while being outscored in regular season conference play), but Georgia’s record in one-score conference games since 2002:
It’s not bad, but it’s clearly not first tier. I had thought that given the school’s overall record – and its excellent road record, in particular – under Richt, that this would be a comparable area of excellence.
Here’s what he has to say about Georgia’s chances in 2008:
… The Dogs also bring back their fair share of skill position players: Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, and Mohamed Massaquoi as they look to return to the SEC Championship Game for the 4th time in 8 seasons under Mark Richt. But their real strength last season was the defense. In fact the offense was below average in terms of yards gained relative to other SEC teams. [Emphasis added.] To take the SEC East this season, they need some offensive improvement; in particular some improved quarterback play. The much ballyhooed Stafford finished 91st in the NCAA in completion percentage (55.7%) and 56th in passing efficiency (128.92).
No doubt Georgia benefited from its +9 turnover margin (only +1 in conference play, though) in ’07.
In the East, Matt sees South Carolina and Vandy (!) on the rise and Kentucky and Tennessee on a decline for 2008. Should make for interesting times next year…