Statistical analysis is always better when somebody else does the heavy lifting.

As I’ve said repeatedly here, I’m a bit of a lazy goat.  My intentions are well meaning, but I’ve never had a problem with somebody else actually toting the water.  So believe me when I say that I enjoyed this Michael Elkon post analyzing the last ten teams to claim a MNC on the basis of yards per play.  I thought about doing something similar, although more from a Georgia perspective, ever since I blogged about LawPundit’s college football rating system, although I never quite got around to doing the research.

But Michael’s done a better job than I would have, so it’s all good.  He makes three observations in particular that are worth your attention.

  • “The BCS may not be perfect, but it has prevented a recurrence of 1984 BYU winning a national title without playing a quality opponent.” While there are strong debates about the two teams in the BCS title game almost every year, it’s worth considering that the BCS has succeeded in making sure that the pool of teams in the hunt for the MNC are bona fide.  Perhaps that’s a factor in why it’s been a regime that’s resisted significant change in the last decade.
  • The anomaly that is Ohio State, 2002 National Champs.  I can’t find my post on that subject, but I remember running numbers a couple of years ago on the most recent national champs’ NCAA rankings for running/passing and stopping the run and the pass and Ohio State’s numbers from that season stood out like a sore thumb from its peers (in one of the defensive categories, it ranked in the 90’s nationally).  That being said, notice that OSU’s ypp differential is still better than Georgia’s from that same season.
  • I was going to post something snide about Corch Meyers’ latest grandiose pronouncementLast year’s team was “one of greatest football teams in history of the game.” – but Michael’s stats took the wind right out of my sails on that, damn him.  If the Gators’ loss to Ole Miss proves anything, it’s that with enough turnovers and poor special teams play, even a dominant team can lose.

If this stuff intrigues you, you may also want to visit Trojan Football Analysis and check out Art’s stats to win correlation for offense and defense(h/t Smart Football)

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UPDATE: I found my earlier post on the rankings of previous MNC winners.  I won’t bore you with the entire thing, just the pertinent part.

If you go to the NCAA D-1 football statistics website, here’s what you find where the MNCs for each year beginning in 2000 were ranked nationally in rushing offense and rushing defense:

  • 2000 (Oklahoma): 68 R/O; 23 R/D
  • 2001 (Miami): 21 R/O; 40 R/D
  • 2002 (OSU): 31 R/O; 3 R/D
  • 2003 (LSU): 27 R/O; 1 R/D
  • 2004 (USC): 33 R/O; 1 R/D
  • 2005 (Texas): 2 R/O; 33 R/D
  • 2006 (Florida): 38 R/O; 5 R/D

Over that seven year period, national championship teams have averaged 31st nationally in rushing offense and 15th in rushing defense. And in each of the last five years, a national champ has ranked in the top five in either rushing defense or rushing offense nationally. That looks like a pretty decent indicator to me.

By the way, the national passing rankings from that same period aren’t quite as consistent a measure as the rushing rankings are:

  • 2000 (Oklahoma): 13 P/O; 9 P/D
  • 2001 (Miami): 35 P/O; 2 P/D
  • 2002 (OSU): 92 P/O; 95 P/D
  • 2003 (LSU): 43 P/O; 18 P/D
  • 2004 (USC): 13 P/O; 34 P/D
  • 2005 (Texas): 40 P/O; 8 P/D
  • 2006 (Florida): 28 P/O; 33 P/D

Check out those ‘02 rankings. Larry Coker is probably still trying to figure out how he lost that Fiesta Bowl.

My bad – Ohio State was ranked in the 90’s nationally in both passing categories.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Statistical analysis is always better when somebody else does the heavy lifting.

  1. Dog in Fla

    Mark Richt Thought for the Day:

    Florida is ” a great program. We have our foot squarely on people’s necks, and were not going to take it off. Right now everyone is trying to catch the Gators. We will not let that happen…”,

    Urban Meyer booster club remark.

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  2. The anomaly that is Ohio State, 2002 National Champs. I can’t find my post on that subject, but I remember running numbers a couple of years ago on the most recent national champs’ NCAA rankings for running/passing and stopping the run and the pass and Ohio State’s numbers from that season stood out like a sore thumb from its peers (in one of the defensive categories, it ranked in the 90’s nationally).

    Had Big-10 refs not given tOSU a win against Illinois, we wouldn’t be talking about this.

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    • Dog in Fla

      Or the ref crew from wherever making a bad pass interference call v. Miami to favor tOSU in the 2003 BCS title game.

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    • The Realist

      or Northwestern… or if Purdon’t could cover on 4th down…

      OSU was the luckiest team in the history of lucky teams.

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