Here are the 2022 MAC standings.
So we know what each team achieved, but how did they perform? To answer that, here are the Yards Per Play (YPP), Yards Per Play Allowed (YPA) and Net Yards Per Play (Net) numbers for each MAC team. This includes conference play only, with the championship game not included. The teams are sorted by division by Net YPP with conference rank in parentheses.
College football teams play either eight or nine conference games. Consequently, their record in such a small sample may not be indicative of their quality of play. A few fortuitous bounces here or there can be the difference between another ho-hum campaign or a special season. Randomness and other factors outside of our perception play a role in determining the standings. It would be fantastic if college football teams played 100 or even 1000 games. Then we could have a better idea about which teams were really the best. Alas, players would miss too much class time, their bodies would be battered beyond recognition, and I would never leave the couch. As it is, we have to make do with the handful of games teams do play. In those games, we can learn a lot from a team’s YPP. Since 2005, I have collected YPP data for every conference. I use conference games only because teams play such divergent non-conference schedules and the teams within a conference tend to be of similar quality. By running a regression analysis between a team’s Net YPP (the difference between their Yards Per Play and Yards Per Play Allowed) and their conference winning percentage, we can see if Net YPP is a decent predictor of a team’s record. Spoiler alert. It is. For the statistically inclined, the correlation coefficient between a team’s Net YPP in conference play and their conference record is around .66. Since Net YPP is a solid predictor of a team’s conference record, we can use it to identify which teams had a significant disparity between their conference record as predicted by Net YPP and their actual conference record. I used a difference of .200 between predicted and actual winning percentage as the threshold for ‘significant’. Why .200? It is a little arbitrary, but .200 corresponds to a difference of 1.6 games over an eight game conference schedule and 1.8 games over a nine game one. Over or under-performing by more than a game and a half in a small sample seems significant to me. In the 2022 season, which teams in the MAC met this threshold? Here are MAC teams sorted by performance over what would be expected from their Net YPP numbers.
Buffalo and Ohio significantly overachieved relative to their YPP numbers while Northern Illinois and Akron significantly underachieved. Neither Buffalo nor Ohio were remarkably fortunate in one-score conference games (Buffalo was 3-2 and Ohio was 1-1), but both dominated the turnover margin in MAC play. Ohio had the best in-conference turnover margin at +15 while Buffalo was a distant second at +8. Buffalo and Ohio also benefited greatly from fourth down variance. Buffalo converted two thirds of their fourth down attempts in MAC play (18 of 27) while allowing a conversion rate of just over 42% (8 of 19). Ohio did not attempt a lot of fourth down conversions (only nine attempts in MAC play which they converted four times), but their defense faced twenty three fourth down attempts and allowed just seven conversions (30%). Akron's underachievement was a combination of bad close game luck (0-5 in one-score MAC games) and a poor turnover margin (-12 in MAC play). Northern Illinois was not exceptionally unfortunate in close games (1-2 in one-score conference games), nor was their turnover margin extremely poor (-1 in MAC play). Their poor record was most likely the football gods evening things out after last season.
Run Tell Dat
Do you know who the longest tenured coach in the MAC is? Its actually a tie between Chuck Martin at Miami and Chris Creighton at Eastern Michigan. In honor of their longevity and general anonymity in the larger college football ecosystem, we are going to clebrate those two gentlemen by analyzing their accomplishments over the next two weeks. We'll start with Chuck Martin.
Chuck Martin won a pair of national titles at Grand Valley State before taking an assistant job under another former Grand Valley State head coach at Notre Dame. After four seasons on the Notre Dame staff, he took over the Miami program prior to the 2014 season. While Miami has a reputation for incubating great coaches, its fair to say the program was in relative shambles when he arrived. Miami finished 0-12 in 2013 and despite a shocking MAC title in 2010, the general trend was a downward one (8-32 MAC record in the other five seasons between 2008 and 2013). Martin did not employ quick fixes, finishing a combined 5-19 in his first two seasons (4-12 MAC record). However, since then, Miami has been one of the best teams in the MAC.
Despite posting the third best conference record in that span, the Redhawks have only managed to win one division title. They have finished a game back on two occasions and lost out on a tiebreaker one other time. However, unlike their division brethren, Miami has managed to close the deal in the MAC Championship Game.