After six weeks of power conference analysis, we make our triumphant return to the Group of Five. Here are the 2015 Conference USA standings.
raptor nickname. The Owls ranked dead last defensively, permitting over seven yards per play (more than a half yard worse than second to last North Texas). They did have the misfortune of taking on the top three offenses in Conference USA (Western Kentucky, Southern Miss, and Louisiana Tech), during which they allowed 156 points. However, they also faced the bottom four offenses (Florida Atlantic, UTSA, UTEP, and Charlotte), so the schedule makers cannot be blamed for their harrowing defensive showing. How did the Owls manage to win three games despite such unflattering peripherals? Unlike most teams that significantly exceed their YPP numbers, close games and turnovers are not the culprit here. The Owls went just 1-1 in one-score league games and actually had a negative in-conference turnover margin. No, the reason for the difference is the fact that the Owls played horribly in their losses and just alright in their wins. In their three wins, they outscored North Texas, Florida Atlantic, and Charlotte (three teams that combined for just five wins against FBS opponents I might add) by 35 points. However, in their five league losses, they were outscored by 132 points. For the Rice Owls, this was certainly not the first time they had drastically exceeded their expected YPP record. In fact, among mid-major (Group of Five) teams since 2005 (the year my YPP numbers go back to), Rice has exceeded their expected record the most.
David Bailiff. Over his nine-year tenure, the Owls have exceeded their expected record by about .181 percentage points per season. You may notice this is slightly below their cumulative average of .186. This is thanks to Todd Graham’s one season in charge. In 2006, the Owls were an amazing .452 percentage points ahead of where they would have been expected to finish based on their YPP numbers (thanks to a 5-1 mark in one-score conference games). Graham bolted for Tulsa after the fluky season, and while he has been a decent over-performer at his numerous stops since (exceeding his expected record on average by about .084 percentage points) his successor has toiled in relative obscurity and accomplished quite a bit at a very difficult job.
Just for the sake of completeness, I would also like to point out the job Pete Lembo did over five years at Ball State.
before leaving to become Maryland’s special teams coordinator.