Holmes, I believe you may have cracked the case.

Bill Connelly looks at three-and-outs.

As I put it in the Illini piece, creating and avoiding three-and-outs is merely step one toward having a good offense or defense. Purdue, for instance, was pretty good at moving the chains once and pretty iffy at everything else. Still, it’s something we draw reference to here and there, but it’s not a list I share frequently enough.

We’ll start with offense. Here’s a list of FBS teams and their three-and-out rates for 2016. I’m also including what I call three-and-out-plus, which features all possessions that ended in three or fewer plays and didn’t include points. That means a few end-of-half possessions for everybody, but more importantly, it includes quick turnovers, maybe the most deadly kind of possession in existence (and something Illinois was particularly bad at avoiding last year).

If you want the tl;dr version, skip straight to the end.

Best three-and-out margins in the country:

(As in, defensive percentage minus offensive percentage.)

  1. Clemson +19.7%
  2. Southern Miss +18.4%
  3. Alabama +15.9%
  4. Tulsa +14.9%
  5. Michigan +14.6%
  6. Temple +13.9%
  7. Appalachian State +13.8%
  8. Virginia Tech +12.4%
  9. Oklahoma +12.4%
  10. Toledo +12.3%

Worst three-and-out margins:

  1. North Texas -16.8%
  2. Rutgers -14.4%
  3. Illinois -13.1%
  4. Fresno State -11.9%
  5. UConn -11.6%
  6. Charlotte -10.3%
  7. Buffalo -10.1%
  8. UNLV -9.8%
  9. Arizona -9.6%
  10. Marshall -9.1%
Combined record of the top 10 teams: 111-31, with five conference titles and both spots in the CFP final.
Combined record of the bottom 10 teams: 30-89.

I believe there might be a correlation there.

Hmmm… he may be on to something there.

Georgia, in case you’re wondering, finished a tick under plus-two percent, mainly because of the offense.



Filed under Stats Geek!

6 responses to “Holmes, I believe you may have cracked the case.

  1. illini84

    I’ve got enough problems without coming here to read abut my Frighting Illini! 🙂


  2. 3 and outs may be as strong of an indicator for winning and losing as turnover margin. Think about the Bama game in ’15 (I know no one really wants to). When Bama blew the game open in the 2nd quarter, it felt that the entire game was being played on the Georgia end of the field. When you get no first downs and no field position, you really have no chance against good opponents.


  3. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    “…a tick under 2% mainly because of the offense.”
    That makes me think that if we can get where we can sustain a little offense, the defense will be even better than it was, and the team as a whole may make us smile come November.

    Yeah, I had a little Kool-Aid today. 😉


  4. doofusdawg

    Bet we were -20% in the 2nd quarter.