Saturday, November 5, 2011

Week 10: Saturday Matchups

Game of the Week
LSU Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide
GUGS Score: 73.4


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
1 Alabama 0.969 0.562 39 35.4 1 8.9 1 152.9 120
2 LSU 0.933 0.663 4 33.3 2 11.6 2 156.6 114

The media is hyping this as the "real" national title game, and for the moment it's difficult to disagree. The only difference is that TFG sees Alabama as the favorite and LSU as the underdog. Both teams suffer from the curse of slow teams: their offenses get overlooked. Even though the Crimson Tide and the Tigers have the best and second-best offenses, respectively, because each teams plays so slow they don't get the respect they truly deserve. LSU's raw offensive output is 13th, and Alabama's is 12th, but when you adjust for the pace of the game they come out as the top two. No one really needs to focus on the quality of the defenses because that's already a given, but what really needs to be known is that Alabama is the better of LSU on both sides of the ball. Throw in home field advantage, and the Crimson Tide emerge as strong favorites in this slow-paced, grind'em out slugfest. Alabama 36, LSU 32 (72.6%); 154 plays.


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
1 Alabama 1.000 0.548 15 26.3 4 4.9 1 157.2 120
3 LSU 0.992 0.551 12 23.8 9 6.5 2 160.6 112

We've been talking this game up for a while, so it should be unsurprising to find (1) Alabama and (3) LSU as the game of the week. The Crimson Tide defense is a ferocious - +/- 10.0 PPH. Let's put that in perspective; RBA expects Alabama to surrender only 9.4 PPH to the Tigers. The LSU defense is really good, as well, sporting a 0.5 +/- 12.0 PPH defense. That looks like a small difference, but it equates to a 2.8 PPH difference in favor of the Crimson Tide. Alabama has a slight offensive advantage at 32.1 +/- 11.6 PPH against the Tigers' 26.8 +/- 6.0 PPH. It's totally possible for a freak play to turn this game on its head, especially since Alabama is the slowest team in Division I-A. However, if everything plays out as expected we expect Alabama to win 28-24 with 73.0% probability.

Unstoppable Force/Immovable Object Game
Texas A&M Aggies at Oklahoma Sooners
GUGS Score: 61.7


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
5 Oklahoma 0.975 0.545 23 25.4 7 9.6 5 171.2 17
20 Texas A&M 0.867 0.552 10 20.5 22 12.1 24 172.1 12

This game matches up two fast-paced teams with strong offenses. Unfortunately for (20) Texas A&M, (4) Oklahoma has the better offense and the better defense. The Sooners aren't as efficient on offense as the media would want you to think because they play at a fast pace. Their offense is a strong 33.0 +/- 15.3 PPH, but not quite as good as Alabama or Stanford. In contrast, the Aggies are merely "good" on offense at 26.6 +/- 12.2 PPH. The Texas A&M defense surrenders roughly 7.3 PPH more than Oklahoma, making matters worse. Both teams play fast, so these differences amplify over the course of the game, resulting in a two touchdown victory for Oklahoma, 38-24, with 70.3% confidence.


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
5 Oklahoma 0.895 0.581 32 27.5 8 11.7 3 179.2 7
20 Texas A&M 0.755 0.604 23 23.1 32 14.7 19 180.0 6

The Aggies are the "immovable object" here, but in yet another quirk of game selection, they have the second-best defense on the field. Actually A&M has the second-best everything on the field, and are going to compound this statistical inequality by playing fast. Fast play tends to minimize the effects of luck and the odd bounce, which is exactly what the Aggies don't want to do here. If A&M want to have a shot at winning this game they're going to need to what any immovable object does: stand still. Slow down the Sooner offense and take their time on offense. Taking the air out of the ball will give the Sooners fewer chances to score. If A&M plays their normal game, though, TFG doesn't like their odds much. Oklahoma 38, Texas A&M 30 (76.7%); 179 plays.

Shootout of the Week
Oregon Ducks at Washington Huskies
GUGS Score: 49.8


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
45 Washington 0.596 0.628 16 24.0 25 20.5 69 164.6 72
6 Oregon 0.879 0.586 29 26.8 10 12.1 7 185.3 1

Speaking of taking the air out of the ball, Washington is going to need to find some way to slow down the high-octane Duck offense. Thanks to their pace -- the fastest team in FBS -- Oregon sports the fourth-best raw offense, but just barely sneaks in the top 10 for adjusted offense. That won't matter too much here, since the Husky defense won't present too much of a roadblock here. The intriguing part is that Washington should actually be able to put some points up on the board, even against Oregon's underrated defense (26th by raw points per game, 7th by tempo and opponent-adjusted efficiency). In the end, though, TFG only gives them a 1-in-5 shot of actually pulling off the upset. Oregon is just too good on both sides of the ball. Oregon 40, Washington 32 (80.5%); 174 plays.


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
33 Washington 0.752 0.548 17 23.2 10 15.9 60 168.1 43
4 Oregon 0.975 0.531 44 26.2 5 9.4 4 176.2 3

(5) Oregon puts up points on everyone with a 32.3 +/- 12.2 PPH offense, but (33) Washington hasn't been too bad themselves. The Huskies are flaky but can put up a load of points when they're hot with a 34.7 +/- 23.0 PPH offense. Neither defense is spectacular, but Oregon is considerably better by 12.5 PPH. Home field helps some, but the Huskies are going to get blown out in this one, 42-27, with 86.5% confidence.

Coin Toss Game of the Week
Michigan Wolverines at Iowa Hawkeyes
GUGS Score: 67.2


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
24 Iowa 0.826 0.521 60 18.1 43 13.7 37 163.9 93
27 Michigan 0.784 0.540 30 21.8 13 12.8 31 168.1 44

(24) Iowa lost to Minnesota last weekend, whereas (27) Michigan has consistently underachieved for the past four years. In this case, RBA picks the team with the bad week, as opposed to the bad senior class. The Wolverines have gotten better but still don't play consistent defense (0 +/- 26.7 PPH). The Hawkeyes are way better at 0 +/- 14.7 PPH. Michigan's offense is truly impressive when they show up, but that doesn't always happen. RBA thinks that Iowa can contain Denard Robinson and secure a 28-24 victory with 60.3% probability.


Team WinPct SoS Off. Def. Pace
38 Iowa 0.623 0.463 74 22.1 41 18.1 47 162.5 91
18 Michigan 0.769 0.503 67 26.7 11 16.5 31 160.9 100

Yet another coin toss game that doesn't completely suck. As with most recent Michigan teams, this one is efficient on offense but leaves a lot to be desired on defense. The raw numbers don't support that conclusion, but the adjusted data says that the Wolverines combine Oregon's offense (seriously!) with Louisville's defense. They're not quite as bipolar as Penn State, but it could make for an interesting game. Iowa is relying almost entirely on home field advantage here, which might not be the best plan. TFG says that even with the home-field bump, the Hawkeyes are the underdogs. Michigan 35, Iowa 31 (62.9%); 161 plays.

W - L
% Correct
RBA 32.78 - 12.22 72.84%
TFG 33.14 - 11.86 73.64%