Saturday, September 24, 2011

Week 4: Saturday Matchups

Game of the Week
LSU Tigers at West Virginia Mountaineers
GUGS Score: 80.4


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
21 West Virginia 0.748 0.507 60 22.8 30 14.8 19 160.0 103
5 LSU 0.890 0.690 5 29.5 3 12.8 7 156.1 118

This is billed as the West Virginia offense versus the LSU defense, but in reality the key matchup will be on the other side of the ball. The LSU offense is third behind only the Stanford and Auburn offenses in terms of efficiency. The problem is that the Tigers play the third-slowest game in all of FBS, so they don't get much recognition for just how awesome their offense is. West Virginia does both offense and defense admirably well, but the question is whether or not it'll be enough to overcome LSU's advantage on both sides of the ball. Home field advantage will be the Mountaineers' saving grace here, but will it be enough? TFG says no, and the Tigers walk away with a 33-29 win, but only with 64.2% confidence.


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
17 West Virginia 0.884 0.537 34 18.5 39 11.0 17 82.8 77
8 LSU 0.949 0.549 15 21.1 18 8.3 2 80.4 111

This pick is bold, to say the least. (8) LSU has been stifling defensively, and (17) West Virginia needed a late interception to hold off (36) Maryland. Here's the thing, though. LSU's offense not good. They don't need to be great, but they will eventually find themselves in a position where they need to score because they haven't forced any turnovers. This could be that game. The Tiger defense comes in at 1.7 +/- 15.9 PPH, implying that they're really good, even against top competition. In contrast, the Mountaineer defense rates 9.1 +/- 1.9 PPH, demonstrating less dominance but more consistency. RBA is unconvinced that LSU's defense can completely shut down West Virginia like they did Mississippi State. Don't forget that Oregon committed four turnovers and still put up 29 points against the Tigers. RBA says West Virginia has just enough defense and just enough offense to pull the upset, 25-24, with 65.7% probability.

Unstoppable Force/Immovable Object Game
Arkansas Razorbacks at Alabama Crimson Tide
GUGS Score: 57.8


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
2 Alabama 0.991 0.548 18 23.1 12 6.2 1 78.9 120
13 Arkansas 0.915 0.568 2 23.2 11 12.5 27 82.7 80

What do you expect me to do here? Yes, on paper and in recent memory, (2) Alabama has gotten the best of (13) Arkansas. Yes, Alabama has the top defense in college football at 1.8 +/- 10.4 PPH. Yes, the game is in Tuscaloosa. Of course the computer is going to pick the Crimson Tide. However, if you compare Alabama at the end of 2010 and Alabama today, you'll notice that they are trending downward offensively. 2010 Alabama was 36.5 +/- 22.3 PPH, whereas today's Alabama is 32.8 +/- 18.7 PPH. Analysis also suggests that home field advantage matters less in conference games than non-conference games. In contrast, Arkansas's defense has improved from 6.5 +/- 13.4 PPH to a more dominating, but less consistent 1.9 +/- 19.4 PPH. Furthermore, the Razorback offense is more consistent under Tyler Wilson than Ryan Mallett at 33.3 +/- 18.0 PPH. RBA says that the Crimson Tide handle Arkansas easily, 34-21, with 77.5% confidence, but as a devout Razorback fan looking through rosy lenses, I can see a flicker of hope that Justin will no doubt mock relentlessly in his analysis.


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
1 Alabama 0.945 0.528 45 28.8 7 9.3 1 159.1 107
12 Arkansas 0.806 0.533 40 27.5 9 15.6 26 169.5 36

I know Eddie's comments sound eerily familiar but you'll have to forgive him. There are two odd aspects to this selection: first, it was chosen purely by the computers and had nothing to do with me wanting to taunt Eddie (seriously). Secondly the "unstoppable force" here is not actually Alabama, but Arkansas; this means the "immovable object" is the Alabama defense. The Crimson Tide defense hasn't appeared to have slowed down from last year, allowing an FBS-best 9.3 PPH; by comparison, the 26th-best defense of the Razorbacks allows a full 6.3 PPH more than Alabama's D. The gap is lessened on the offensive side, where Arkansas is within a mere 1.3 PPH of Alabama's 7th-ranked offense. This game will come down to the ability of each team to get a stop on defense. TFG says that Alabama's natural advantage -- plus its home field advantage -- push this solidly into the "W" category for the Crimson Tide, 37-29, with 86.0% confidence.

Shootout of the Week
Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Boise State Broncos
GUGS Score: 40.4


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
2 Boise St. 0.915 0.471 74 28.8 8 11.2 3 166.6 59
52 Tulsa 0.543 0.473 72 21.1 46 19.7 62 176.9 10

The Shootout of the Week is reserved, quite simply, for the game that's expected to have the highest combined score of the two teams. Unfortunately in this scenario the lion's share of the points is going to go to (2) Boise State. The Broncos have an efficient offense, while Tulsa has at best the very definition of an average defense. The Golden Hurricane makes it worse on themselves by playing a lightning-fast game that will only give Boise State more opportunities to score. Tulsa doesn't have a bad offense, per se, but at 21.1 PPH it's simply not in the same league as Boise. Throw in the fact that this is an early-season home game in Idaho, and this game is effectively over before it started. Broncos win in a walk, 43-26, with 93.2% confidence.


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
4 Boise St. 0.983 0.458 96 25.5 4 9.1 6 84.6 29
59 Tulsa 0.526 0.466 90 19.1 28 17.5 75 85.3 20

Every now and then, I truly feel bad about a matchup. This game is one of them. (4) Boise State is trying to prove themselves to the world and will no doubt bring their A-game against Tulsa. They're playing on the smurf-turf, so add some more points there. The Broncos are efficient on both sides of the ball. In contrast, Tulsa can't play defense (2.5 +/- 28.5 PPH). Remember the Patton speech where he says, "I pity those poor bastards. I really do"?  This is that moment. Boise State goes ballistic on Tulsa, 49-14, with near certainty (89.4%).

Coin Toss Game of the Week
Indiana Hoosiers at North Texas Mean Green
GUGS Score: 35.0


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
108 North Texas 0.079 0.430 118 10.6 106 23.0 110 81.7 98
96 Indiana 0.184 0.538 32 14.5 76 21.4 105 84.6 28

This is the part where I make some witty comments about the relative strength of the two teams. Despite living in Indiana for five years, I know diddly squat about the (96) Hoosiers. I mean, I guess I know that they're not very good. I know that (108) North Texas got the tar beaten out of them by Alabama last week. Well, I also know that my rock band's drummer went to school there. He turned out alright, so I guess that plus home field advantage tips the scales in favor of the Mean Green. North Texas's offense is bad, but it's consistent at 14.5 +/- 2.1 PPH. In contrast, Indiana is flaky at 20.0 +/- 10.9 PPH. RBA suggests a 31-28 North Texas victory with 56.0% confidence.


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
108 North Texas 0.142 0.449 81 13.7 107 28.0 112 165.6 67
98 Indiana 0.255 0.428 91 17.7 78 27.2 111 166.8 56

I'm kind of with Eddie on this one. It's selections like these that motivate us to go back and tweak the algorithms so they'll give us more interesting games to talk about. As it is, we've got to fill a paragraph about two teams with a combined expected winning percentage that's almost at 0.400. Almost. Both of these teams have defensive efficiencies above 27, meaning that the majority of points scored against them would be thanks to the ineptitude of their defense rather than the skill of the opposing offense. TFG says this'll be a close one, though, and that's what this choice is all about. Indiana 36, North Texas 35, with the Hoosiers as 57.5% favorites.

W - L
% Correct
TFG  33.54 - 11.46  74.53%
RBA  32.38 - 12.62  71.96%