Wednesday, February 03, 2016

2015 Adjusted Pythagorean Record: ACC

Last week, we looked at how ACC teams fared in terms of yards per play. This week, we turn our attention to how the season played out in terms of the Adjusted Pythagorean Record, or APR. For an in-depth look at APR, click here. If you didn’t feel like clicking, here is the Reader’s Digest version. APR looks at how well a team scores and prevents touchdowns. Non-offensive touchdowns, field goals, extra points, and safeties are excluded. The ratio of offensive touchdowns to touchdowns allowed is converted into a winning percentage. Pretty simple actually.

Once again, here are the 2015 ACC standings.
And here are the APR standings sorted by division with conference rank in offensive touchdowns, touchdowns allowed, and APR in parentheses. This includes conference games only with the championship game excluded.
Finally, the ACC teams are sorted by the difference between their actual number of wins and their expected number of wins according to APR.
The ACC saw four teams with significant differences between their APR and actual record. Three of those teams (Boston College, Georgia Tech, and Miami) also saw large differences between their actual record and their record as predicted by their YPP differential. We discussed those three teams last week, so we won’t rehash it here. The other team with a significant difference between their APR and actual record was Duke. The Blue Devils did not have a phenomenal record in close games (3-2) to pump up their place in the standings, but they did have a few blowout losses (35 points to North Carolina and 18 points to Pitt) that tramped down their APR. In fact, the margin in their 35 point loss to the Tar Heels was more than the margin in their four conference victories (24 total points).


If you watched any Boston College football games this season, you may have noticed the Eagles didn’t put a lot of points on the board. Yes, they had a harder time scoring than a pimply hunchback at a Kappa Kappa Gamma mixer (thanks, I’m here all weekend). Seriously, though, their offense may have been the worst in college football. However, despite their offensive struggles, the Eagles were competitive in most of their games thanks to a strong defense. This combination of ineptitude and competence got me thinking and in my thinking, I created something I deemed the ‘Excitement Index’. The concept is pretty simple. Most people watch football for the scoring, more specifically, the touchdowns (no one likes field goals). Maybe you are a football snob and you enjoy watching pulling guards smash into linebackers, but I would argue most fans are not that nuanced (or sober). No, they want to see touchdowns. I have APR data for each FBS conference going back to 2005, so I looked at the total number of offensive touchdowns scored and allowed for each team in every conference game dating back more than a decade. I simply added up the offensive touchdowns each team scored with the touchdowns they allowed and divided by the number of conference games played. Why did I use conference games? Well, I have that data readily available. So how does Boston College rate in the ‘Excitement Index’? They are the least exciting team since at least 2005. The average Boston College game in 2015 saw just two and a half combined offensive touchdowns. Boston College as well as the other least exciting teams since 2005 are listed below.
Let me be clear, this is not a slight at Boston College. For my money, their 3-0 ‘boring’ loss to my alma mater (Wake Forest) was a very exciting game. However, I doubt many folks who are not fans of either team switched over to that game. Had the score been something like 70-66, it might have garnered the attention of a few more casual fans. So Boston College ranked dead last of all teams since 2005 in the ‘Excitement Index’. Did any team from 2015 rank first? No. But one team did rank second all time in the measure. You’ll have to wait until we get to that conference before I divulge their identity. That’s what we in the business call a tease. I’ll give you a (probably not needed) hint. They play in the Big 12.

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