Thursday, March 31, 2016

2015 Adjusted Pythagorean Record: MAC

Last week, we looked at how MAC 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 MAC 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, MAC teams are sorted by the difference between their actual number of wins and their expected number of wins according to APR.
Kent State was the lone MAC school to see a significant difference between their APR and their actual record. Once you look at their underlying offensive performance, the reason for this disparity is quite simple. Kent State scored six, yes six, offensive touchdowns in their eight conference games. This kind of futility often results in a one or zero win campaign. However, Kent State actually opened MAC play 2-1, by clustering their touchdowns at favorable times and playing decent defense. Despite their 2-1 MAC record, the Golden Flashes had already been outscored by 20 points. Over their final six conference games, only one would be decided by less than 13 points and the Golden Flashes would be outscored by more than 18 points per game.

Despite their historical offensive ineptitude, Kent State fans might have at least a little reason for optimism heading into 2016. The following table lists the other MAC teams that have failed to score more than 10 offensive touchdowns in conference play and their follow up performance the next year.
Based on an admitted small sample size, it appears quite difficult to perform so poorly offensively for two consecutive seasons. Each team that scored 10 or fewer offensive touchdowns rebounded to score at least 23 in their epilogue. Three out of four schools also saw their conference record improve. This is perhaps not too surprising since their offenses returned from the abyss. In the interest of curbing the enthusiasm of Kent State fans, it should be noted that three of the four teams also felt compelled to change coaches after their dreadful offensive showings. Eastern Michigan was the only school to retain their coach, while the other three brought in fresh blood (or old fresh blood) to revitalize their teams. Barring an unforeseen set of circumstances, Kent State will be led by Paul Haynes (don’t worry if you didn’t know who their coach was) for the fourth consecutive year in 2016. We’ll see if he is able to coax a similar offensive improvement out of the Golden Flashes.

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