It is the number of points by which a team outscores its opponent in the first half of a game. The theory behind using it being that consistently relying on second half comebacks is not a good long term strategy and can potentially help us identify regression candidates. Similarly, teams that rack up solid first half differentials, but ultimately wind up losing more game than we might expect actually have the bones of a solid team and might be a good candidate to bounce back the next season.
Now, with the understanding that 2020 was the mother of all statistical outliers in mind, here’s the SEC’s picture:
My goodness, Alabama. That’s obscene. The combined total for the other five teams with positive differentials is +21.9.
Take the numbers as seriously as you choose. That being said, this seems like a fine epitaph for Jeremy Pruitt’s finale in Knoxville:
… Finally, in a shocking turn of events, Tennessee was actually kind of mediocre in 2020 instead of plain bad. The Vols were winning or tied at the half in six of their ten conference games, but lost half of them (which includes blowing a double digit lead against Arkansas) to finish 3-7.
He’ll be missed.