Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hardcore Football Stats 101: Breaking Down the BCS Championship Opponents

image If you love poring over box scores and stat sheets to divine which team holds advantages in the upcoming BCS Championship Game between Alabama and Notre Dame, you’re going to love this hardcore statistical analysis of the two teams’ offensive and defensive performances throughout the 2012 regular season.

Just because there were so few common opponents—a frequent outcome when pitting two teams from different conferences or geographies—doesn’t rule out an objective analysis of how those teams might fare against each other based on how they’ve done against other top opponents.

That’s what uafan4life has done over at Tidefans.com:


The Crimson Tide Offense comes in at #2 in the Total Scoring Offense Rating, trailing only Oregon. While Alabama is only 15th in the Country in Points Per Game and 37th in TD percentage, the Crimson Tide is 3rd in Plays per 10 points, 2nd in driving efficiency, and 1st in scoring differentials.

So, when you look at the raw stats and rankings for the Scoring Offenses and Defenses of Alabama and Notre Dame, there are four aspects to consider when weighing those numbers:

1) Alabama's Offense hasn't faced any Defenses better than Notre Dame's but has faced 4 Defenses in the same "zip code", i.e. within 25 spots, and has performed exceptionally well against those teams.
2) Notre Dame's Offense hasn't faced any Defenses better than Alabama's but has also faced 4 Defenses in the same "zip code", i.e. within 25 spots, and has performed exceptionally well against those teams.
3) Alabama's Defense has faced 8 Offenses that are better than Notre Dame's and has performed very well against those teams.
4) Notre Dame's Defense has faced 0, yes Zero, Offenses better than Alabama's and only faced 1 Defense in the same "zip code" and, while they performed very well against that Offense, that Offense was missing their starting Quarterback.

And, just for kicks, if you combine all of the Total Scoring Offense & Defense ratings and differentials and apply them to the Alabama - Notre Dame unit match-ups, the numbers add up to a predicted score of:

No spoiler—follow the link!


That analysis is posted in a thread started earlier by uafan4life that revealed some interesting data on how the two teams’ rushing defense performance are similar, yet different. Mash here for the original post, and check out some of the discussion on the numbers.

Don’t say you weren’t warned—this is hardcore analysis.

CORRECTION: I had forgotten about Michigan—the two teams’ only common opponent. Thanks to Grey for pointing it out in the comment section.

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1 comments :

Grey Thompson said...

No common opponents? Notre Dame plays Michigan every year (until AFTER this year), and Alabama played Michigan for the very first game of the year in the biggest stadium in the country. Alabama beat Michigan by more points, too. I'm not sure how that part has been missed by everyone I've heard talking about the ND/Alabama matchup? Could be worth an article alone right there, on any site really. Haven't heard a word about Michigan. Just weird is all.