Saturday, October 8, 2011

Week 6: Saturday Matchups

Game of the Week
Florida Gators at LSU Tigers
GUGS Score: 76.0


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
3 LSU 0.909 0.671 4 29.8 4 11.9 5 160.8 100
7 Florida 0.879 0.605 20 27.7 10 12.5 7 161.4 97

No surprise here. This top-ten matchup is classic SEC football: slow, efficient, and balanced. Last week Florida tried --and failed -- to be the immovable object to Alabama's unstoppable force. This week they get the main stage all to themselves. LSU has been part of a rising pack of teams chasing Alabama, while Florida has been a team on the way down. This game gives the Gators the chance to prove that they're not done for the year and they deserve another shot at Alabama in a few weeks. The Tigers, though, have a 2.1 PPH advantage on offense and a 0.6 PPH advantage on defense. Over the course of this game that amounts to a bit more than a field goal, so this one'll be close. TFG says the Tigers are 2-to-1 favorites to pull it off, but it's going to be close. LSU 35, Florida 30.


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
4 LSU 0.975 0.549 16 22.1 13 7.1 2 161.0 110
10 Florida 0.923 0.552 12 22.6 11 8.3 3 161.7 108

(4) LSU and (10) Florida are both top ten teams only because RBA doesn't know about injuries. John Brantley, Florida's much maligned starting quarterback, is out with a high ankle sprain, leaving true freshman Jeff Driskel as the likely starter. With a first-time starter playing at Death Valley, we can expect Florida's 35.0 +/- 24.8 PPH to drop off considerably against LSU's 0.0 +/- 16.0 PPH defense. LSU's offense still isn't that good relative to its top ten peers (28.2 +/- 12.2 PPH), but it shouldn't need to be in this one. The only thing Florida has going in its favor is the relatively slow pace in this game, meaning that a couple of big plays can make a bigger difference in the final score. Injuries aside, RBA says LSU 31-20 with 54.8% confidence, but that's certainly on the low side given Florida's convalescence.

Unstoppable Force/Immovable Object Game
Texas Longhorns vs Oklahoma Sooners
GUGS Score: 57.9


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
8 Oklahoma 0.941 0.543 25 24.4 7 8.5 4 170.8 19
24 Texas 0.825 0.520 60 19.0 34 11.2 20 168.1 43

RBA isn't as high on (8) Oklahoma as the humans, and it sure as hell isn't sold on (24) Texas. The Sooners are prone to offensive flakiness (37.3 +/- 26.0 PPH), but when they're on, they can score a ton of points in a hurry. Texas is still recovering a bit from their 2010 performance with an offense that is nearly as inconsistent than the Sooners' at 31.1 +/- 24.2 PPH. Unfortunately, Texas scores nearly a touchdown less per hundred plays than Oklahoma. The Sooners' also sport a minor defensive advantage over the Longhorns, so Oklahoma should win this game 31-17 with 73.8% probability.


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
4 Oklahoma 0.902 0.601 21 26.1 16 10.7 2 180.6 5
21 Texas 0.754 0.486 66 22.7 30 14.5 16 163.5 81

Similar to our UFIO game from week 4, the "unstoppable force" here is actually the inferior offense. There's a 12.0 PPH difference between the Longhorn offense and Sooner defense, but "only" an 11.6 PPH difference between the Sooner offense and Longhorn defense. Raw data says that Texas has the better defense, but the tempo-free stats tell the true story: the Sooners play fast, and Texas plays slow, and therein lies all the difference. You have more plays in your games, you give the other team more opportunities to score; of course you're also giving yourself more opportunities to score. The raw offensive data also falls prey to this trap, and underestimates the Longhorn offense. In short this is one of those games where tempo-free stats shine, but unfortunately for the Longhorns the result isn't too encouraging. Oklahoma 34, Texas 28 (75.0%)

Shootout of the Week
Auburn Tigers at Arkansas Razorbacks
GUGS Score: 64.0


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
17 Arkansas 0.781 0.641 11 28.7 6 17.2 35 169.3 37
26 Auburn 0.738 0.596 23 27.3 12 18.0 47 168.1 49

We didn't pick this game because last year the teams went off for a combined 108 points. The computer picked this game because it pits two powerful offenses against two acceptable defenses. Admittedly last year there were some irregularities (I'm sure Eddie will cover those) but the Razorbacks did their best to make a game of it. Of course that was last year as Auburn was going through an improbable tear through the regular season on their way to a national title. The Tigers have lost about 2.0 PPH on offense and 3.0 PPH on defense, which is the difference between being in the top 10 and being outside the top 25. The Razorbacks have improved on offense -- impressive, considering the loss of Ryan Mallett -- but slipped a bit on defense. Ultimately TFG says the combination of home field advantage and Auburn's slide tips the scales in favor of the Razorbacks. Arkansas 40, Auburn 36 (64.7%)


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
16 Arkansas 0.894 0.570 1 23.0 10 12.9 29 165.6 78
13 Auburn 0.899 0.544 24 20.7 18 14.9 51 159.4 115

Oh, how I've waited on this one. For those just joining us at home, (16) Arkansas got hosed by two replays last year in what is becoming a regular occurrence in SEC play. Sure, Arkansas had a chance to win in the 4th, but given that they were playing with their backup quarterback after Nick Fairley drove Ryan Mallett into the ground for a concussion (uncalled, I might add), you can't help but wonder what would have happened without the officials awarding Auburn 14 free points and 4th quarter momentum. Fast forward to 2011. The luckiest national champion in recent memory is traveling to Fayetteville without one of their starting cornerbacks, Chris Davis. In contrast, Arkansas returns their all-SEC defensive end, Jake Bequette. RBA doesn't know this, of course, but this should provide a slight shift in favor of the most pass-happy team in the SEC. The intrigue in this game arises from the differences in consistency between the two teams. Arkansas is a little flaky with large variances on both sides of the ball: +/- 19.2 PPH on offense and +/- 21.1 PPH on defense. In contrast, (13) Auburn has inferior but fairly consistent efficiencies: +/- 8.4 PPH on offense and +/- 2.7 PPH on defense. The game could go either way, but home field tilts the game towards the Razorbacks, 31-28, with 63.1% confidence.

Coin Toss Game of the Week
Washington State Cougars at UCLA Bruins
GUGS Score: 44.1


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
75 UCLA 0.368 0.547 20 15.4 70 18.1 82 167.2 53
61 Washington St. 0.509 0.534 40 18.4 38 17.4 75 172.6 9

It's a sad world we live in where I need to put my faith in (61) Washington State two weeks in a row. Good thing they're playing (75) UCLA. This game is considered so uninteresting that ESPN doesn't even bother to post a preview. For what it's worth, UCLA has actually managed a bit of a running game to make up for several years of quarterbacking injuries and ineptitude, resulting in an offense with 21.1 +/- 11.4 PPH. The Cougars remain a risky bet with alarming variances: +/- 34.3 PPH offensively and +/- 26.2 PPH defensively. The good news is that inconsistent teams are usually labeled "inconsistent" for their ability to stomp poor competition and get stomped by strong competition. Luckily for me, UCLA is the former. RBA says Washington State 34-28 with 64.6% confidence.


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
71 UCLA 0.421 0.611 18 18.9 62 21.4 80 161.7 92
81 Washington St. 0.366 0.514 53 17.0 84 21.1 77 169.1 41

I fixed it. I swear I did. Now it's just mocking me. I guess I need to set the bar higher to week out these middling Pac-12 games. I blame the eerie symmetry of the TFG and RBA projections, though, down to the decimal place on the confidence. UCLA 34, Washington St. 30 (64.6%)

W - L
% Correct
RBA 35.45 - 13.55 72.34%
TFG 36.38 - 12.62 74.24%