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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Statistical Review: Ohio #61

By my metrics, Ohio had the absolutely easiest path to bowl eligibility and the 6th best path to an undefeated season. To get six wins they needed to beat Norfolk State, Massachusetts (#123), New Mexico State (#122), Akron (#118), Eastern Michigan (#115) and Miami (OH) (#107). They lost to Miami (OH) but were already playing with house money after beating Penn State to start the season. If a couple calls went against them in games against Marshall, UMass and Akron, Ohio could have fell from BCS bowl aspirations to no bowl at all.

Ohio was more than a little bit lucky. They benefited most in those aspects of the game that are least predictive. By predictive I mean that some that some stats are very good at predicting future performance, like yards per carry. Other stats are less predictive, e.g., opponent field goal percentage (see Penn State v. Virginia). Ohio lost only five fumbles (but dropped the ball 13 times) and threw only five picks all season. They turned the ball over on 6.7% of possessions, third best in the country. Turnovers cost them less than 3 points per game. Holding on to the ball is a skill, but turnovers are as much or more about luck as skill, and Ohio had a lot of it.

Besides avoiding turnovers, Ohio benefited from good average starting field position (own 32) and good play on 3rd down, which led to longer drives (5.7 plays per possession). That's not luck. That's good football. They attempted a field goal on 17.5% of possessions and converted on 13.3%, 8th most nationally. In other words, the offense did a good job of squeezing points out of possessions, despite averaging only 3.7 points in the red zone, and of not putting the defense in bad situations.

On defense, aspirations for mediocrity were undermined by poor performance in the red zone (5 points per trip) and on 3rd downs (44% conversions allowed on 3rd and 4th downs, 25th worst nationally).
The Statistical Review breaks down teams along a number of performance categories, everything from red zone scoring to field goal percentage, and compares that performance against the rest of the FBS. All 124 teams will be reviewed from 124 to 1 by the hybrid rankings. You can find short descriptions of the stats used in the table below.

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