Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week 3: Saturday Matchups

After the success of GUGS last week, we bring you this round of Games You Gotta See. As always, we focus on the most interesting game between two teams from BCS conferences, the most interesting game between two teams from non-BCS conferences, the most interesting game between a BCS team and a non-BCS team, and the overall Game of the Week. We'll also examine big games that failed to make the cut and explain why.

Iowa Hawkeyes at Arizona Wildcats
GUGS Score: 89.4

Eddie: (14) Iowa faces off against (13) Arizona in a matchup that RBA predicts with only 53% confidence.  Iowa has the better offense and defense at 15.2 PPH and 10.8 PPH, respectively.  Arizona can only muster 13.4 PPH of offense and 17.1 PPH of defense.  However, they're playing in Tempe (+3 points for Arizona), and Iowa maintains a slow pace of 164 plays/game, implying that the Hawkeyes will have fewer opportunities to exploit their advantage.  All this adds up to a close game with Iowa pulling off the win:  25-24.
Justin: (10) Iowa goes on the road to visit (19) Arizona in a game of two so-so offenses but solid defenses. The Hawkeyes continue to get it done with defense, but will get tested with an early road trip. Home field advantage is huge this early in the season, and Arizona is going to need every single bit of crowd noise and momentum to pull off the upset. The Hawkeyes' defense is the 5th-best in Division I-A, allowing a mere 10.4 PPH; Arizona's defense is still a respectable 13.5 PPH, but even factoring in home field advantage this will be a coin toss. TFG says Iowa 29-28, with a 55.4% chance of winning.

Clemson Tigers at Auburn Tigers.
GUGS Score: 85.9

Justin: The (21) Clemson Tigers visit the (31) Auburn Tigers in a marquee ACC-SEC showdown. These teams are almost mirror images of each other, efficiency-wise, around 21.0 PPH on the offensive side and 14.0 PPH on the defense, give or take about 1.0 PPH. The downside for Auburn is that Clemson has the slight advantage on either side of the ball; the upside for Auburn is that they're at home. The one area where these teams diverge is pace: Auburn averages an extra 12 plays per game, so might try and turn this into a track meet. They're going to need all the help they get, because TFG has Auburn as 31-30 favorites, but only with 52.7% odds.
Eddie: [Insert tired joke about Tigers winning.] Although (28) Clemson is ranked higher than (36) Auburn, they match up quite well.  Auburn's offense is flashy, but their defense is more likely to win the day against Clemson.  Auburn's defense is amazingly consistent, varying only 3.8 PPH across all opponent levels, whereas Clemson's may vary by up to 13.1 PPH.  RBA says that home field edges the game in favor of Auburn:  27-24 with 55.5% confidence.

Brigham Young Cougars at Florida State Seminoles.
GUGS Score: 80.7

Eddie: (46) Florida State may be playing at home, but they're looking up at the (30) Cougars.  Only 0.8 PPH separate BYU and FSU offensively, but the Seminoles have been woeful on the defensive side of the ball.  RBA expects FSU to surrender 21.5 PPH, as opposed to 14.8 PPH for BYU.  Home field advantage keeps the game close, but BYU should win this one 31-28 with 63.9% confidence.
Justin: The (49) Seminoles host the (30) Cougars in our top BCS/non-BCS matchup of the week. BYU is fresh off a road loss to (20) Air Force, and looking to get back on track.  The Seminoles and the Cougars both sport offensive efficiencies in the low 20s, but BYU has almost a 5.0 PPH advantage on the defensive side of the ball. Florida State is going to need to overcome that massive disadvantage if they want any hope of winning. TFG pegs this game as quite literally too close to call; Florida State gets to edge, but they need 4 decimal places to make it work, as TFG has them winning 35-34, but with 50.0% odds.

Fresno State Bulldogs at Utah State Aggies
GUGS Score: 72.1

Justin: Our non-BCS game of the week has (58) Fresno State visiting (74) Utah State. Fresno State is just above 0.500 in the TFG rankings, whereas Utah State is hovering just above 0.400. Fresno State sports a reasonably good offense at 21.6 PPH, but makes up for it with a thoroughly mediocre defense that allows 21.2 PPH. Utah State is in much worse shape, with nearly a -3.0 net PPH. The Aggies' home field advantage should make this one very competitive, though, as Fresno State has only a 50.1% chance of pulling off the 36-34 road victory.
Eddie: (63) Fresno State whipped Cincinnati two weeks ago, but that's not saying much these days.  (86) Utah State's claim to fame is keeping Oklahoma in check.  Conventional wisdom would suggest that Utah State would have an advantage playing at home.  However, the Bulldogs match up very well against the Aggies' defense at 20.0 PPH.  Utah State can only expect 15.5 PPH.  As in the previous matchup, home field gives the Aggies a chance, but Fresno State should win this one 31-28 with 66.6% confidence.

Games you probably wanted us to preview:

Arkansas Razorbacks at Georgia Bulldogs.
GUGS Score: 82.7

Should be a good game, just not quite as competitive as Clemson/Auburn.  Eddie swears that Arkansas is going to win this game, even though both TFG and RBA disagree.

Texas Longhorns at Texas Tech Red Raiders.
GUGS Score: 71.8

Not competitive.  RBA says the expected scores should be close but is fairly confident that Texas wins this one with 68.8% confidence; TFG concurs, picking the Longhorns as a one-FG favorite and 61.6% favorites.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Washington Huskies.
GUGS Score: 60.2

Not competitive.  Jake Locker continues his inexplicable journey to Todd McShay's #1 draft pick against a nasty Cornhusker defense.  RBA gives the Huskies only 27.8% probability of winning at home. TFG is slightly more optimistic for Washington, but still says they've only got 29.5% odds of winning.