clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Football Outsiders: Comparing Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss

We've talked a bit about comparing how we can really compare offenses and defenses between conferences and although I don't totally understand the method (math was never my strong suit) I can understand the results.

Bill Connelly writes for Football Outsiders as well as SB Nation's very own Missouri blog Rock M Nation and early in December he broke down conference play-by-play levels to the 2008 season (hat-tip The Rivalry, Esq.). Let's get the disclaimer out of the way: these numbers are comparing conference numbers, but I still found it very interesting. And some definitions:

Rushing S&P+ (offense and defense): A comparison of a team's rushing output to the output expected based on the number of rushes against the team's opponents.

Passing S&P+ (offense and defense): A comparison of a team's passing output to the output expected based on the number of passes against the team's opponents.

Close-Game S&P+ (offense and defense): This is an overall S&P+ figure for all plays run while a given game was "close." What makes a game "close" has been tweaked from previous Varsity Numbers columns as well. Previously, "close" simply signified a scoring margin within less than 17 points. This has been altered in the following ways:

  • First quarter: If the scoring margin is within 24 points or less, the game is "close."
  • Second quarter: If the scoring margin is within 21 points or less, the game is "close."
  • Third and fourth quarters: -f the scoring margin is within 16 points or less (i.e., two possessions), the game is "close."

Overall, this is a relatively minor change, but it does signify that an early 21-point lead is much "closer" than a 21-point lead in the second half.

Being that a team's performance while a game is still more or less winnable is what is most important (and when a team gives up a ton of yards and points when they're up 49-7, it really is not that important), the Close-Game "+" numbers are used for the next measure as well.

Overall "+": This is the measure by which the teams in these tables are ranked. It is simply Offensive Close-Game S&P+ plus Defensive Close-Game S&P+. In this category, 200 signifies average, not 100.

Projected Record: In theory, if you know how many EqPts per game Team A averages rushing and passing, and if you know how far Team B usually holds opponents above or below their season averages, then you can come up with a figure that represents Team A's likely output against Team B, and vice versa. Throw in a home-field adjustment, and you can project likely results and therefore a team's likely record based on their (conference) season averages.

In other words, if every team played at its average level in every game (which will obviously never happen), you can project what their record likely would have been. Differences between actual and projected records could be explained by far too many variables to count -- special teams breakdowns, good or bad luck, good or bad coaching, or maybe the simple fact that some teams get much better or worse as the season progresses.

Again, I realize that the conference numbers aren't necessarily comparable, at least at this point, however, I still like the idea of looking at Texas Tech and Ole Miss from an unbiased computer rather than my own opinion. Also, average is 100 except for the "Overall +" column, and 200 is average.

Team Off.
Rushing
S&P+
Def.
Rushing
S&P+
Off.
Passing
S&P+
Def.
Passing
S&P+
Off.
Close
S&P+
Def.
Close
S&P+
Overall
"+"
Proj.
Record
Actual
Record
Texas Tech 112.4 (2) 93.9 (9) 119.5 (3) 106.6 (3) 120.0 (2) 98.1 (9) 218.1 (3) 7-1 7-1
Mississippi 95.1 (7) 119.4 (3) 125.8 (3) 108.5 (5) 110.9 (5) 104.6 (5) 215.5 (3) 5-3 5-3

Again, everything is taken here with a grain of salt, as the Big 12 is much more offense oriented and the SEC is more defense oriented, thus, with that being said I think there's some pretty interesting comparisons that we might make.

Also, the number in parentheses is something I've added and is the conference rank, just for comparison purposes.

Offense

First, there's been some debate as to whether or not Texas Tech had the better running game (running back and offensive line previews) and as productive as Ole Miss has been, Texas Tech had the 2nd most productive in a truly offensive Big 12. And from looking at the numbers, it's not even remotely close.

The passing numbers also state that when Ole Miss wants to throw they ball, they're more efficient than Texas Tech. Again, I'm just a results guy, but I'm wondering too if there's something to the idea that Jevan Snead is more efficient because he puts the ball down the field better than the shorter passing game of Texas Tech? I wonder too if the idea that Ole Miss is a superior passing team for SEC standards and as a result, the statistics are better than Texas Tech's? The problem with this type of thinking is that this exact same argument could be used when discussing the Texas Tech running game (i.e., the Big 12 is not a rushing conference but is better because of the lack of competition).

The Off. Close S&P+ for Texas Tech probably again speaks to the Red Raiders ability to be a successful and efficient offense when the game is close, while Ole Miss is still successful, just not to the extent of the Red Raiders.

Defense

Quite simply, it appears that the defensive numbers don't play out well for Texas Tech. Again, 100 is average and the rushing stats show that Texas Tech is not even average at stopping the run, and is in fact among the bottom half of the conference. There is some success there for the Red Raiders at stopping the pass, although there's still a lot to be desired.  And although I'm not sure that the numbers can completely tell a story, but there's also the idea that the pass defense is better because teams have so much success running the ball against Texas Tech. 

Again, I'm of the opinion that Texas Tech is improved overall defensively, but there's still some work that needs to be done and being so deficient in one area (stopping the run) leads me to believe that teams don't have to pass because it's not necessary.

I am somewhat surprised that Ole Miss finished 3rd in rush defense, but much like the Texas Tech offense Off. Close S&P+, the Ole Miss Def. Rushing S&P+ is an indicator that the conference at a whole is pretty good (the Rebels are 3rd in the conference at almost 120) and Ole Miss is successful, although not terribly successful against the pass.  At the very least, Ole Miss is a great run stopping team and a better than average at defending the pass.