I link to Matt Melton’s post season statistical analysis of the conferences because he often turns up information that’s of interest. His SDPI approach measures each team’s deviation from the conference mean as to yards gained on offense versus yards given up on defense in conference games. As you might expect, there’s generally a fair amount of correlation between ranking high in SDPI and winning games.
So how does he explain this rather surprising anomaly in his breakdown of the Big East?
Obviously, the huge shocker I was referring to earlier is the ranking of the Orange from Syracuse. Thanks to a superb defensive ranking, the Orange rated out as the 3rd best team in the league despite winning only a single conference games all season. How is that possible? Is the ranking system screwed up, or was Syracuse really better than you thought they were?
Here’s where Matt finds an answer (and why I find this a relevant subject to post on a Georgia blog):
… In addition to this, the Orange offense under former Duke hoopster Greg Paulus repeatedly put the defense in harms way via the turnover. The Orange had the worst turnover margin in Big East play (see chart below) by a pretty healthy margin.
Paulus threw 10 picks in 7 Big East games (versus just 6 touchdowns). Here are just a few examples of how the offense (and occasionally the special teams) hung the defense out to dry. In their Big East opener, the Orange held the South Florida Bulls to 333 yards of offense, but also committed 7 turnovers, including an interception that was run back for a touchdown in a 14 point loss. In mid-November against fellow cellar dweller Louisville, the Orange held the Cardinals to 151 yards of offense, but botched an extra point and gave up a huge 44-yard punt return late in the game that set up the winning score to allow the Cardinals to escape with a 10-9 win. In their season finale against Connecticut, the Orange outgained the Huskies by over 100 yards (489-377), but allowed Connecticut to return both a kickoff and a fumble for a touchdown in a 56-31 loss…
Sound familiar, Dawg fans?
It will be interesting to see how the numbers play out when Matt posts his SEC SDPI analysis. Georgia’s turnover margin in conference play was about as bad as you might expect, at minus-12, but, believe it or not, wasn’t the worst number in the SEC (that honor goes to Ole Miss).