## Tuesday, March 30, 2010

### Big 12 SDPI

It's only March and we're already half way through the BCS leagues. This week, we'll examine the Big 12 and what to expect from that conference in the fall.

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 12 regular season, conference play only, championship games excluded, the average Big 12 team gained and allowed 2926.917 yards. The standard deviation for yards gained (offense) was 419.36 yards. The standard deviation for yards allowed (defense) was 507.96 yards. Colorado gained 2352 yards and allowed 2721 yards. Their offensive SDPI was -1.37 = [(2721-2926.917)/419.36]. Their defensive SDPI was 0.41 = [(2926.917-2721)/507.96]. Their total SDPI was -0.97. This number ranked 10th in the Big 12.

To refresh your memory, here are the 2009 Big 12 standings.
Now here are the 2009 Big 12 SDPI standings. The standings are sorted by division by total SDPI with ranking for each category (out of 12 teams) in parentheses.The actual standings and the SDPI standings are a little misalligned. In the North, Missouri rates as the best team, despite the fact that Nebraska beat them on the field and in the standings. Elsewhere in the North, Iowa State ranks as the worst team (by far), yet they qualified for a bowl game, while Colorado and Kansas finished below them in the standings. In fact, the middle-four teams in the division (Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State, and Colorado) were separated by only half a standard deviation. In the South, Oklahoma rated out as the best team, despite losing outright to both Texas Tech and Texas. Speaking of the Red Raiders, they rate as the second best team in the league, but they are always overvalued by SDPI because of the type of offense they run. We'll see if that continues with the changes at head coach.

Conference Superlatives

Best Offense: Texas Tech 1.52
In an interesting twist, the Red Raiders were held in check only once in Big 12 play, when they were held to 259 total yards against Nebraska (worst since a loss to TCU in 2006). Nebraska featured the 2nd best defense in the Big 12. Against the league's best defense (Oklahoma), the Red Raiders rolled up 549 yards. Perhaps venue had a little something to do with that. The Nebraska game was in Lincoln, while the game against the Sooners came in Lubbock.

The Cornhuskers gained over 400 yards only once in conference play, versus Kansas. They were held below 300 yards 6 times in league play. In the Big 12 Championship Game, the offense was what prevented the Huskers from shaking up the BCS standings, as they wasted a great defensive performance by gaining 106 total yards!

Best Defense: Oklahoma 1.29
Outside of the aforementioned game against Texas Tech, the Sooners held their Big 12 foes in check. Kansas (305) and Kansas State (364) were the only other Big 12 teams to gain over 300 yards against the Sooners defense.

Worst Defense: Texas A&M -1.50
The Aggies defense kept them from enjoying a sensational season as they featured the 2nd best offense in the league. Only Baylor (297) and Iowa State (324) failed to gain over 400 yards against the Aggies in Big 12 play.

What's in Store for Next Year?
North Division:

South:

## Monday, March 22, 2010

### Big 10 Recap: 2005-2009

Thus far, in our offseason half-decade look back, we've examined the ACC and Big East. Now we move toward the mid-west and the Big 10 (11).

First off, here are the combined Big 10 standings from 2005-2009.While the Trojans from Southern California get a great deal of the national pub for 'dominating' their conference, its clear the Buckeyes have also been on quite a roll over the last 5 years. Ohio State is 7 games clear of their closest competitor (Penn State), and their worst finish in that span has been a tie for first. Minnesota and Indiana are the lone Big 10 schools to not post a winning conference record in the past 5 seasons. The Golden Gophers finished 4-4 in 2005, while the Hoosiers best finishes were consecutive 3-5 marks in 2006 and 2007. Two teams have gone winless in league play, Illinois in 2005 and Minnesota in 2007, and only one team has gone unbeaten (Ohio State in 2006). Besides Ohio State, Penn State is the only Big 10 team to not have a losing record since 2005. Their worst finish was 4-4 in 2007.

Now here is the standard deviation of each team's conference record (in wins). Teams are ranked from the most inconsistent to the least.The most inconsistent Big 10 team in the past 5 years has been Michigan. The Wolverines were 18-6 in league play from 2005-2007, but are just 3-13 since. The second most inconsistent team is Illinois. In the past 5 years, the Illini have a winless conference campaign on their ledger as well as a second place conference finish that earned them a Rose Bowl berth. The most consistent Big 10 team has also been the best team. Ohio State finished 7-1 four times in the past 5 seasons, and in the other year went 8-0.

Now here is each team's point differential in conference play since 2005.These numbers line up pretty well with the actual standings. Ohio State once again stands as the most dominant Big 10 team, outscoring their conference foes by over 19 points per game since 2005.

With this being the end of the decade, here's the tally of conference titles.Please note that this does not include shared titles. Iowa is conspicuously absent from this list despite tying for a pair of titles in 2002 and 2005. The real travesty is that the 2002 undefeated Big 10 team never got to face off against the undefeated Buckeyes from the same season. I bet you had forgotten about the pair of titles won by Purdue and Illinois at the beginning of this past decade.

And finally, what was the biggest takeway from the 00 decade in the Big 10?
I would say it was the death and subsequent resurrection of Penn State football. If you asked most football fans in the middle of the 2004 season if Joe Pa would still be coaching at the dawn of the next decade, the answer would likely be 'absolutely not'. Penn State was 16-24 in the Big 10 from 2000-2004 (26-33 overall) with just a single bowl appearance and had lost 13 of 16 Big 10 games. Since then, Penn State is 29-11 in the Big 10 and 51-13 overall with 5 consecutive bowl appearances and a pair of conference titles.

## 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?

## Tuesday, March 02, 2010

### Big East Recap: 2005-2009

A few weeks ago we looked at the last half-decade in the ACC. Now we'll move to the league the ACC plundered and left for dead in the mid-00's, the Big East.

First off, here are the combined Big East standings from 2005-2009.I was a little surprised West Virginia still has the best league record since 2005. In the 2 seasons Bill Stewart has been at the helm, the Mountaineers have continued to play well in the league, going 10-4. Against teams not named Cincinnati, the Mountaineers are 10-2 in that span. In fact, of the Mountaineers 8 league losses in the past 5 seasons, 7 have come to either Cincinnati (2), Pitt (2), or South Florida (3). The other loss came to what used to be known as Louisville. After winning 14 of their last 15 conference games, the Bearcats from Cincinnati rose up to take the silver medal. West Virginia is the only Big East team to not have a losing record since 2005. Not surprisingly, Syracuse is the only Big East team to not have a winning record since 2005.

Now here is the standard deviation of each team's conference record (in wins). Teams are ranked from the most inconsistent to the least.The most inconsistent team has been Louisville. From 2005-2006, the Cardinals went 11-3 in Big East play and seemed poised to be a national player. Since then, they are 5-16 in league play, besting only Syracuse over that period (3-18). Speaking of the Orange, they are the most consistent Big East team over the past 5 seasons. After going 0-7 in league play in 2005, the Orange have been remarkably consistent since, notching a single Big East win in each season. West Virginia has also been very consistent, following up their 7-0 campaign in 2005 with 4 straight 5-2 league records.

Now here is each team's point differential in conference play since 2005.In this methodology, the Mountaineers come out head and shoulders above every other Big East team. Their point differential is nearly 300 points better than 2nd place Rutgers. Teams 3-5 are clustered very closely together, with only 11 points separating 3rd place Pitt from 5th place South Florida. The main reason why Cincinnati is so far ahead of South Florida in the actual standings (+6 games) despite having a nearly identical scoring differential is their performance in one-score games. The Bearcats are 11-6 in one-score conference games since 2005, while the Bulls are only 2-9.

With this being the end of the decade, here's the tally of conference titles.
And finally, what was the biggest takeway from the 00 decade in the Big East?
History is no barrier to success, particularly if no one in the conference has a great history. Of the 8 current Big East teams, Pitt and Syracuse are the only 2 that can claim a national title. Pitt has 6 with their most recent coming in 1976, while Syracuse can claim the 1959 title. At the beginning of this decade, Rutgers was a perennial doormat, Cincinnati and Louisville were on the outside looking in at big money leagues as members of Conference USA, South Florida was still playing IAA ball, and Connecticut had just made the jump to IA. West Virginia had some moderate success under Jim Carlen, Bobby Bowden, and Don Nehlen, but nothing like the spoils they enjoyed under Rich Rodriguez from 2003-2007. I didn't include them in the above table, but West Virginia was actually the co-champions in both 2003 and 2004, giving them a technical run of 4 titles in 5 seasons. Who knows what the future holds for the Big East, but the conference appears to be in much better shape than was imagined when re-allignment began in 2004.