Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Dome Sweet Dome

4 Division I-A football teams play their home games in domes. They are Syracuse, Minnesota, Tulane, and Idaho. In 2004, each school performed dramatically better at home than they did on the road. It has long been supposed that dome teams in the NFL struggle when they are forced to play outside on grass. Does this same dichotomy exist in NCAA football? The following is home/road breakdown of the 4 dome teams in 2004 including home/road record, points per game, points allowed per game, and opponent's record for all games and for conference games.

Home: 4-1 30.6 ppg 23.2 papg Opponent’s Record: 36-23
Road: 2-4 20.0 ppg 29.5 papg Opponent’s Record: 36-34

Home: 3-0 40.3 ppg 30.7 papg Opponent’s Record: 20-15
Road: 1-2 24.3 ppg 26.0 papg Opponent’s Record: 19-16

Syracuse was drastically better offensively and defensively inside the Carrier Dome. Their only loss was a 4 point defeat at the hands of Florida St (9-3). They also defeated bowl participants Cincinnati, Connecticut, and Pittsburgh in the friendly confines. Away from home they lost to Big East luminary Temple. In fairness, they did defeat Boston College on the road, but otherwise they performed atrociously with all their road losses coming by 10 points or more.

Home: 5-1 38.5 ppg 15.8 papg Opponent’s Record: 32-27
Road: 1-4 22.0 ppg 32.4 papg Opponent’s Record: 30-28

Home: 3-1 32.8 ppg 13.3 papg Opponent’s Record: 23-23
Road: 0-4 19.0 ppg 36.5 papg Opponent’s Record: 26-21

Much like Syracuse, Minnesota played substantially better offensively and defensively at home. In conference games the disparity is an astonishing 23 points per game difference on the defensive end. At home Minnesota’s only loss was by 2 points to Iowa (10-2). On the road, they suffered expected defeats to Michigan and Wisconsin, but they also lost to Michigan St. (5-7) and Indiana (3-8).

Home: 4-2 34.3 ppg 33.7 papg Opponent’s Record: 40-30
Road: 1-4 18.8 ppg 31.8 papg Opponent’s Record: 21-35

Home: 2-2 31.3 ppg 43.3 papg Opponent’s Record: 27-20
Road: 1-3 21.8 ppg 32.8 papg Opponent’s Record: 18- 27

Tulane’s offense was significantly better at home, and their defense was equally awful both inside and out of the Super Dome. The high papg for home conference games is a function of a pair of double-nickel games against UAB and Louisville. However, against UAB the plucky Green Wave managed to score 59 of their own. Against Louisville, they managed only 7.

Home: 2-1 32.3 ppg 24.0 papg Opponent’s Record: 12-21
Road: 1-8 16.4 ppg 44.6 papg Opponent’s Record: 55-49

Home: 2-1 32.3 ppg 24.0 papg Opponent’s Record: 12-21
Road: 0-4 14.3 ppg 36.5 papg Opponent’s Record: 22-24

No that’s not a misprint; Idaho played only 3 home games last season. And while the real Vandals sacked Rome, these Vandals merely got sacked. They were equally terrible at the Kibbie Dome and in hostile territory. Their non-conference slate included games at Boise St., Oregon, Washington St., and Hawaii.

Be forewarned that this is only one season’s worth of games, but in a future post I plan to analyze the road struggles of these dome teams over an extended period of time compared to the ‘average’ NCAA football team’s road record.

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