Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mountain West Rewind: SDPI

One way to look at team strength, taken from Eddie Epstein’s fantastic book Dominance, is to look at teams points scored and allowed relative to the league average and standard deviation. The more standard deviations they are from the mean, the better (or worse they are). For those unfamiliar with what standard deviation is here’s the wikipedia link. In the coming weeks, I will be looking at each Division IA conference and ranking each team in regards to their Standard Deviation Power Index in conference play. Keep in mind, the SDPI does not adjust for schedule strength for conferences such as the ACC where each team does not play each other and it ignores special teams which can play a significant role in both points scored and points allowed.

If you want the meat of the article, skip this next paragraph as it just gives an example of how the SDPI is calculated. The mean points scored and allowed for all Mountain West teams in conference play was 189 points. The standard deviation for points scored was 64.31. The standard deviation for points allowed was 53.52. Utah scored 232 and allowed 171 points. The Utes' offensive SDPI was 0.67 = ([232-189]/64.31). Their defensive SDPI was 0.34 = ([189-171]/53.52). Their total SDPI was 1.00 (not 1.01 because the values given earlier were rounded). This was the third best mark in the Mountain West in 2006.

First here's the link to the 2006 Mountain West Standings to refresh your memory.

Now here are the 2006 SDPI Standings:

BYU 3.41
TCU 2.17
Utah 1.00
New Mexico -0.34
Wyoming -0.35
Air Force -0.49
Colorado State -1.31
San Diego State -1.85
UNLV -2.24

BYU dominated the Mountain West in 2006. They were challenged only once, in the season-finale against arch rival Utah, which they won on the games final play.

Best Offense: BYU 1.99
Senior quarterback John Beck led the Stormin' Mormon attack that broke 30 points in all but one conference game.

Worst Offense: Colorado State -1.18
After a 4-1 start, including wins that looked very good at the time--Colorado and Fresno State, the Rams lost their last 7. They were held to single digits in 3 of those games. For the season, the running game averaged under two and a half yards per rush.

Best Defense: BYU and TCU 1.42
The Cougars and Horned Frogs allowed just one opponent each to break the 30-point barrier.

Worst Defense: UNLV -1.76
Every conference opponent scored at least 20 points, and five managed to score more than 30.

Best Team that Didn't Go to a Bowl: Wyoming -0.35
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, there is no Wyoming Bowl. The 'Pokes finished ahead of New Mexico in the standings, and slightly behind them in SDPI.

Worst Team that Went to a Bowl: New Mexico -0.34
From the numbers (and postseason performance), its pretty clear their was a steep drop-off after the top three teams in the Mountain West.

Schedule Strength: No need to rank schedule strength since everybody plays everybody in the 9-team league.

Team(s) Likely to Decline: BYU and TCU
The top of the league should be open next season. Gone from the Cougars are quarterback John Beck and his 32 touchdown passes as well as Curtis Brown and his 1000 rushing yards. Plus tight end Jonny Harline has moved on as well (ask Oregon what kind of matchup problems he creates). The Cougars do lose only three defensive starters, so that unit should still be superb. Forget about another undefeated conference season though. TCU seems to be the chic offseason pick to win the Mountain West and perhaps crash the BCS. They lose a lot of experience too, particularly under center where Jeff Ballard must be replaced. Their leading receiver is also gone as is the right side of the offensive line and the entire defensive backfield. TCU is more likely to go 5-3 than they are to go 8-0.

Team(s) Likely to Improve: Colorado State and Air Force
Two former WAC/Mountain West powers should return to respectability, if not the top of the conference. Colorado State was much better than its 1-7 conference mark last season and should improve on that number with 7 starters returning on defense and an offense that can't possibly be any worse. Air Force was a tough luck 2-5 in close games last season (2-3 in conference play) so with a few fortuitous bounces, they could be back in a bowl game for the first time since 2002.

Best Chance to Crash the BCS: Utah
The Utes probably won't go undefeated in conference play, which they would likely need to do to crash the party, since they must travel to both BYU and TCU. However, those two teams simply lose too much to be legitimate threats to appear in a BCS bowl. Utah does have a rough non-conference slate with Oregon State, UCLA, and Louisville all on the schedule. The Louisville game is a likely loss, but the Utes could conceivably take the other two (Beavers on the road and Bruins at home). Still, the Mountain West will more than likely not provide college football fans with their second BCS participant in four years.


Anonymous said...

TCU lost one of five starting DBs and 2 OL (only one from the right side). I think they will overcome those huge losses and probably have a better QB than Ballard ready to step in.

Nice try though.

matt said...

DB's Eric Buchanan, Vernon Russell, Mike Salvage, Marvin White, and Elvis Gallegos are gone. You are right about the OL, i misspoke or wrote as it were. Both tackles, Herbert taylor and Maurice Bouldwin, are gone.

Lyle Lanley said...

Russell, Salvage and Gallegos were DEFINITELY not starters. Buchanan split time with Brian Bonner. So no, TCU did not lose every starter, unless you were just going by what was listed in the national pre-season magazines...