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Sunday, December 9, 2012

A smarter look at turnovers

The average fumble costs the offense -3.28 points and the average interception -2.93 points, but not all fumbles and interceptions are created equal. A turnover on 3rd and 20 is less costly than on 1st and 10, or at midfield versus the red zone. A long return can make a relatively harmless turnover into a killer, while a long pick on 4th down can actually be a positive play for the offense.

Using the NEPA logic, we can calculate the point impact of every turnover this season. Briefly, we look at the points we can expect a team and their opponent to score based on their down, distance, spot and time remaining before the play to that after the play. -TO is the total point impact of turnovers for each team this season and -TO/TO is the average point impact per turnover.

It should be no surprise that Kansas State is on top. Alabama is 5th, but McCarron and crew would like the -8.8 against Texas A&M back (and -6.3 against Georgia almost cost them as well). That Louisville and West Virginia score so high is a real testament to Geno Smith and Teddy Bridgewater.

At the other end, Hawaii, Western Michigan, Tulane and Idaho have cost themselves more than 100 points. Idaho averaged a remarkable -10 per game this season; seeing as how they were outscored by 27 points per game this season, though, those 10 points probably would not have saved their season.

Thanks to cfbstats for the data. 

2 comments:

  1. Awesome data. Any chance you can get def. TO data as well, and then combine into a net TO effect per team?

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    1. It's like you read my mind. Now that the regular season is over I've got to start spreading these things out more, but next comes defense, then -TO margin, and then some individual games.

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