Wednesday, May 25, 2016

2015 Adjusted Pythagorean Record: Sun Belt

Last week, we looked at how Sun Belt 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 Sun Belt standings.
And here are the APR standings sorted by rank with conference rank in offensive touchdowns, touchdowns allowed, and APR in parentheses. This includes conference games only.
Finally, Sun Belt teams are sorted by the difference between their actual number of wins and their expected number of wins according to APR.
Arkansas State and Troy saw their actual record differ from their APR by more than a game and a half each. These two schools also saw their records differ significantly from their expected records based on YPP. So, instead of rehashing what I said last week, let’s take a sojourn through Sun Belt history.

For most of its existence, the Sun Belt has been the weakest of all the FBS conferences. It has been the home of FBS nomads and neophytes. No Sun Belt school has ever been ranked or finished a season ranked (former member Western Kentucky did end the year ranked in 2015). This of course does not mean the Sun Belt lacks entertaining football. I for one, enjoy their midweek games. So let’s celebrate the fifteen years the Sun Belt has been an FBS conference by revisiting all their wins against BCS and Power 5 opponents. Sun Belt teams have won 20 games against BCS/P5 opponents. Those wins are listed by year in the tables below.
Sun Belt teams did not win any games against Power 5 opponents in 2015, but they did win eight in the four-year span from 2011-2014, so hopefully they can get back their winning ways in 2016. Feel free to peruse the table at your leisure, but I have combed through the results and come up with a few Sun Belt superlatives. Enjoy.

Most Wins Vs BCS/P5: Middle Tennessee State
The Blue Raiders, a former Sun Belt member, have beaten six BCS/P5 teams while playing under the Sun Belt banner. Their best win was probably the beatdown of a Georgia Tech team that would play in the 2012 ACC Championship Game (thanks to a technicality). For current members, Louisiana-Monroe has the most wins against BCS/P5 opponents with four.

Most Losses Vs Sun Belt: Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt has three losses to Sun Belt teams with all three coming to Middle Tennessee State. The last loss in 2005 was particularly damaging as it kept a Commodore team with Jay Cutler at the helm home for the holidays. Vanderbilt would rebound and qualify for a bowl game just three seasons later, but at the time it had to feel like a huge missed opportunity for the Commodores in their quest to end their two-decade bowl drought.

Largest Margin of Victory: North Texas over Baylor 52-14
My, how times have changed. North Texas was in the midst of winning the first four Sun Belt league championships while Baylor was a perennial Big 12 punching bag. Baylor won the return match in Waco the following year, and I think they would be favored if the two were to play in 2016.

Best Finish: Western Kentucky over Kentucky 32-31
Overtime: Check. Two-point conversion for the win. Check. A video is worth a thousand words.
This concludes our in depth look at all ten FBS conferences. I will be back sporadically throughout the summer with some gambling advice, a Vegas trip recap, and perhaps a few season previews. In the meantime, check my Twitter for witty observations and my Instagram for humorous memes. Thanks for reading.

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