Week 1 Epilogue: “Inconclusive”

Current KPI Rankings are live, and look crazy.  Bottom line, all the 1-0 teams are first, then the teams who didn’t play a game (looking at you Army, Cincinnati, Kansas and South Alabama), and then the teams who are 0-1.  The opponents of all the 1-0 teams are 0-1 and vice versa, so each team’s strength of schedule is opposite their win-loss record.  Pretty simple.  Like standings, right?

As fans, we starve for immediate reaction and analysis (and rankings) as to what a team’s win or loss means.  Can South Carolina still make the playoff?  Is Wisconsin (and the entire Big Ten) doomed over LSU’s comeback Saturday night?  Did Georgia win the national championship yet?  Many people are already trying to draw big-picture conclusions.

Nobody has a clue what any of it means yet.  Why?  Because the rest of the season hasn’t happened yet.

We speculate the future rather than analyze the past and present.  It’s fun.  I get it.  Projecting what is still possible to achieve breeds hope.  It’s not going to change.  It’s alright that it doesn’t change as long as we can avoid kidding ourselves into overvaluing the interpretations.

As for the four teams in the playoff?  There are less than 10% of the precincts reporting (with no exit polling data either).  I would characterize the data “inconclusive.”  I’m not prepared to project a winner.

That said, let’s look at Week 1.

Feasting on FCS:  46 of the 84 games played in Week 1 came against FCS competition (FBS teams finished 44-2 by an average score of 41.4-14.9).  Last year, 8 FCS teams beat an FBS team on Week 1 en route to an overall mark of 16-95 (.144).  North Dakota State and Bethune-Cookman notched the two FCS wins so far this year – they each beat an FBS school last year too.  Iowa State and Florida International each lost to FCS schools both years, with FIU’s setback coming to Bethune-Cookman both times.

Go For the Win:  Every FBS conference finished at or above .500 in Week 1.  The Big Ten paced the conferences at 12-2, followed by the Pac-12 (10-2), SEC (10-3, note that 2 conference games were played), ACC (10-4), Big 12 (6-3), Sun Belt (6-3), MAC (8-5), Conference USA (7-6), Mountain West (6-6) and American (5-5).  Independent teams went 2-1.  FBS teams went 82-40 (.672). Power 5 conference teams went 48-14 (.772) while Group of 5 teams went 34-26 (.567).

Power 5 Powerful:  10 of the 14 losses for Power 5 conference teams came against teams from other Power 5 conferences (including 2 SEC and 1 ACC conference matchups).  The exceptions?  Louisiana-Monroe over Wake Forest, Temple over Vanderbilt, Colorado State over Colorado, and North Dakota State over Iowa State.  23 of the 57 games played by Power 5 conferences were against FCS opponents (40.4%).

Non-Conference Matchups:  There are a total of 28 non-conference games scheduled between Power 5 conference teams (0.86 per team).  7 such matchups occurred in Week 1.  Week 2 has 2, Week 3 has 9, Week 4 has 6 and Week 14 (November 29) has 4 SEC/ACC matchups.  5 of 28 are at neutral sites.  The Big Ten has 14 such matchups, followed by the ACC (13), SEC (11), Big 12 (10) and Pac-12 (8).  On a per-team basis, the Big Ten and Big 12 both average 1.0 Power 5 non-conference games per team, followed by the ACC (.93/team), SEC (.79/team) and Pac-12 (.67/team).

The Margin:  The average margin in games this week was 24.4 PPG (up 6.6% from last year’s 22.9 PPG margin in Week 1).  Only twice last year (Week 2: 24.8 PPG, Week 4: 25.4 PPG) was the margin higher.  Winning teams averaged 40.1 PPG while losing teams scored 15.7 PPG.  Collectively, teams averaged 27.93 PPG (up 0.08% from last year’s 27.91 PPG) .  The Pac-12 had the largest scoring differential (+22.1) followed by the Big Ten (+17.7), Big 12 (+16.9), SEC (+13.5), ACC (+11.7), Sun Belt (+8.9), MAC (+6.8), American (+5.1), Conference USA (-1.4) and Mountain West (-2.2).  Home teams outscored road teams 38.4-17.4 (+21.0).

Other comparative scores and margins:

  • FBS vs FCS: 41.4-14.9 (+26.5)
  • FBS vs FBS: 38.0-17.3 (+20.7)
  • Power 5 (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) vs Power 5 (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC): 37.1-24.3 (+12.8)
  • Group of 5 (American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt) vs Group of 5 (American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt): 37.4-20.6 (+16.9)
  • Power 5 (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) vs FCS: 43.0-15.9 (+27.0)
  • Group of 5 (American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt) vs FCS: 39.8-13.9 (+26.0)

Scoring:  The Pac-12 led all conferences in scoring (39.8 PPG) followed by the Big 12 (38.2), Big Ten (37.5), SEC (36.8), ACC (32.5), Sun Belt (30.8), MAC (30.7), American (29.8), Conference USA (28.3) and Mountain West (23.8).

The Pac-12 also allowed the fewest points (17.8 PPG).  The Big Ten allowed second fewest (19.8) followed by the ACC (20.8), Big 12 (21.3), Sun Belt (21.9), SEC (23.3), MAC (23.8), American (24.7), Mountain West (26.0) and Conference USA (29.7).

Power Meets Power:  The SEC was the only power conference to go undefeated against non-conference Power 5 conference teams at 3-0.  The Pac-12 was 2-1, ACC 1-2, Big Ten 1-2 and Big 12 0-2.

A Normal Week:  The outlier rate in Week 1 was 21.1%.  The rate in Week 1 of last year was 22.2%, while it was 20.1% over the entire 2013 season.

SEC East Separation:  Thursday was collectively bad for the seven SEC East teams.  Two losses won’t kill a group of teams, but who they came against (one against the SEC West, and one to Temple, who finished No. 112 in last year’s KPI), where they came (both at home), and the margin (-24 and -30) hurts the division’s data points moving forward.  Many have now given the division to Georgia (who had a nice home win vs. Clemson Saturday) before they have even played an SEC game.  The Big Ten West (losses by Wisconsin and Northwestern) has similar data points through one week except for the margin.  Which brings us to…

Who Do I Root For?:  Data points are helped when teams you play win.  Duh.  With the size of conferences increasing and no-plays happening more frequently, rooting for your division is far more important.  Cross-division games are borderline non-conference games for data purposes.  While the team below you in the standings losing feels good, make sure it’s a divisional game.  Cross-divisional games influence every team’s ranking in your team’s division just like non-conference games.  Cheerer beware.

EXPs Accuracy:  Based on 2013 data, the EXPs formula accurately projected the winner in 70 of 84 games (83%).

Best Wins (including 2013 data, for now, for reference)

  1. +.89       Texas A&M 52, SOUTH CAROLINA 28
  2. +.78       GEORGIA 45, Clemson 21
  3. +.76       USC 52, Fresno State 13
  4. +.67       Penn State 26, Central Florida 24
  5. +.61       Florida State 37, Oklahoma State 31

Most Valuable Games by KPI Formula (based on average of winning and losing team’s game KPI, including 2013 data)

  1. 95.5%    Florida State 37, Oklahoma State 31
  2. 86.8%    USC 52, Fresno State 13
  3. 86.0%    Ohio State 34, Navy 17
  4. 85.9%    Texas A&M 52, SOUTH CAROLINA 28
  5. 84.6%    GEORGIA 45, Clemson 21

Outlier Games by KPI Formula (including 2013 data, for now, for reference)

  1. 89.5%    Temple 37, VANDERBILT 7
  2. 55.0%    Texas A&M 52, SOUTH CAROLINA 28
  3. 54.3%    California 31, NORTHWESTERN 24
  4. 51.5%    UAB 48, Troy 10
  5. 48.1%    UTEP 31, NEW MEXICO 24

Some Housekeeping:

TV ScheduleSeveral networks were confirmed for 6-day picks in Week 2.  All games times were already set.  The full TV schedule can be found here.

  • Oklahoma at Tulsa (12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT, ABC/ESPN2 Outer-Market)
  • Akron at Penn State (12 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2 Outer Market)
  • Missouri at Toledo (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • San Jose State at Auburn (7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
  • East Carolina at South Carolina (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

The first set of 12-day picks will be released on Monday, September 9 for games on Saturday, September 20.

Idaho-Florida:  The Idaho at Florida game Saturday night was “terminated” due to weather after two lengthy delays.  The two teams have a common bye week on October 25 (Florida plays Georgia the following week).  Another possible option exists on December 6 if Florida is not playing in the SEC Championship Game.  There are both financial and competitive issues at stake.  Florida reportedly is paying Idaho $975,000 for the game.  Clauses often exist in game contracts relative to weather, but how they read varies.  A win could be critical for either team.  No way of knowing (see above, remember?).  The SEC will control the television rights if a makeup date is confirmed.

I’ll be in Eugene this weekend for the Michigan State-Oregon game (Saturday 6:30 p.m. ET, FOX).  Look for the Week 2 Prologue on Thursday.

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