Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Big 10 SDPI

On our sojourn through the 2009 college football season we now head west, to the Big 10. Don't look now, but the Big 10 may have been the best conference in 2009. Here's the link to last year's SDPI post on the Big 10.

As usual, this first paragraph will explain how SDPI is calculated. So if you want the meat of this article skip on down. In the 2009 Big 10 regular season, conference play only, the average Big 10 team gained and allowed 2843.273 yards. The standard deviation for yards gained (offense) was 287.49 yards. The standard deviation for yards allowed (defense) was 428.63 yards. Illinois gained 2825 yards and allowed 3163 yards. Their offensive SDPI was -0.06 = [(2825-2843.273)/287.49]. Their defensive SDPI was -0.75 = [(2843.273-3163)/428.63]. Their total SDPI was -0.81. This number ranked 9th in the Big 10.

To refresh your memory, here are the 2009 Big 10 standings.
Now here are the 2009 Big 10 SDPI standings. The standings are sorted by total SDPI with ranking for each category (out of 11 teams) in parentheses.There's not a great deal of disconnect between the actual and SDPI standings. I suppose the biggest difference is Penn State. The Nittany Lions ranked as the best team according to SDPI, yet they lost to the 2 teams that finished directly ahead of them in the standings, at home no less. No ranking system is perfect, but it should be noted that in their other 6 conference games, Penn State was very dominant, winning by an average of 20.5 points per game. Meanwhile, Ohio State lost to Purdue and made up for their modest yardage differential by leading the conference in turnover margin (+12 in league play) and scoring 4 non-offensive touchdowns, including 3 in their win over Wisconsin. Iowa was the master of winning ugly. Their 6 Big 10 wins came by an average of 9.2 points. Iowa and Ohio State are underrated by this system primarily because their defenses were so good (just ask Oregon and Georgia Tech) and because this system does not give any weight to special teams or turnovers, 2 key elements that can swing any football game. Conversely, Penn State is a little overrated because outside of those 2 contests (and the defense actually played very well against Iowa), the Nittany Lions were not really challenged in Big 10 play.

Conference Superlatives

Best Offense: Penn State 1.26
When they weren't being suffocated by the league's 2 best defenses (508 combined yards against Ohio State and Iowa), the Lions carved up Big 10 defenses to the tune of nearly 450 yards per game.

Worst Offense: Minnesota -1.67
Can't we all just admit you made a mistake in letting Glen Mason go? At least when the Gophers were a fledgling Big 10 team, they were fun to watch. Remember Laurence Maroney, Marion Barber, and Gary Russell? To be fair, the Gophers were without super star receiver Eric Decker for the last half of their Big 10 schedule. However, the Gophers actually averaged more yards per game over their last 3 conference games (326) than their first 5 (277) when Decker was healthy.

Best Defense: Ohio State 1.45
At this point, its only surprising when Ohio State doesn't field the best defense in the Big 10. The Buckeyes narrowly edged Iowa for this honor, allowing 11 fewer yards over the course of 8 Big 10 games.

Worst Defense: Michigan -1.36
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. It should be noted that Michigan was 10th last season (ahead of only Indiana). Rich Rod has now presided over the 2 worst Michigan defenses in the program's history.

What's in Store for Next Year?