There are, as they say, lies, damn lies, and statistics. The numbers mean something, yet often we know not what. Here SMQ will look at the final regular season statistics in more than a dozen major categories to suss out who succeeded in what and how that statistical success correlated to overall success in terms of final record. SMQ does not have the luxury of a high-powered supercomputer or degree-type qualification in mathematics or statistics, but his analysis will be driven as deep as his egghead, tinfoil cap curiosity and cell phone calculator will take it. That is to say, quasi-scientific at best
Part One: Which stats most closely correlate with success?
Part Two: What do the best teams do best?
Part Three: ACC Game-by-Game Results
Part Four: Big East Game-by-Game Results
Part Five: Big Ten Game-by-Game Results
Part Six: Big XII Game-by-Game Results
Part Seven: PAC Ten Game-by-Game Results
The Method: SMQ used ESPN box scores to pull out specific numbers from all 45 conference games played among PAC Ten teams this season, and developed a winning percentage for each of eleven major statistical categories. That is, if the winning team outgained its opponent running the ball, that game was marked as a "victory" for the rush offense category; if the loser had a higher conversion rate on third down, the game was marked as a "defeat" for the third down efficiency category (the stats below are listed in offensive form, but the records are identical as from a defense-centric point of view). And so on for each of the categories in each game until the supply of competitive examples was dry. After which each category's "record" was added up to determine its correlation to victory among the group as a whole.
As a matter of course, remember this measures correlation, not causation, and any number is as likely to be a result of winning as it is to be a source.
The quick and dirty, portable results:
|1.||Rush Offense||.822 (37-8)|
|2.||Yards Per Pass||.810 (34-8)|
|3.||Total Offense||.756 (34-11)|
|Third Down Efficiency||.756 (31-10)|
|5.||First to Score||.733 (33-12)|
|6.||Yards Per Carry||.698 (30-13)|
|7.||Turnover Margin||.686 (24-11)|
|8.||Pass Offense||.667 (30-15)|
|9.||Time of Possession||.618 (21-13)|
|10.||Home Team||.558 (24-19)|
|11.||Penalty Yards||.436 (17-22)|
|Stat Category||Win %||Stat Category||Win %|
|Total Offense||.756 (34-11)||Yards Per Carry||.698 (30-13)|
|> 500||.800 (4-1)||> 6.0||.667 (2-1)|
|450-499||.714 (5-2)||5.5 - 5.9||.800 (4-1)|
|400-449||.643 (9-5)||5.0 - 5.4||.500 (2-2)|
|350-399||.700 (14-6)||4.5 - 4.9||.625 (10-6)|
|300-349||.500 (6-6)||4.0 - 4.4||.909 (10-1)|
|250-299||.385 (5-8)||3.5 - 3.9||.400 (4-6)|
|< 250||.105 (2-17)||3.0 - 3.4||.556 (5-4)|
|Pass Offense||.667 (30-15)||< 3.0||.250 (8-24)|
|> 400||.500 (1-1)||Yards Per Pass||.810 (34-8)|
|350-399||.500 (1-1)||> 12.0||1.000 (1-0)|
|300-349||.400 (2-3)||10.0 - 11.9||.875 (7-1)|
|250-299||.522 (12-11)||8.0 - 9.9||.714 (10-4)|
|200-249||.667 (12-6)||6.0 - 7.9||.531 (17-15)|
|150-199||.524 (11-10)||4.0 - 5.9||.321 (9-19)|
|< 150||.316 (6-13)||< 4.0||.000 (0-5)|
|Rush Offense||.822 (37-8)||Third Down Efficiency||.756 (31-10)|
|> 300||1.000 (2-0)||> 70%||1.000 (1-0)|
|250-299||1.000 (2-0)||60 - 69%||.800 (4-1)|
|200-249||.900 (9-1)||50 - 59%||.636 (4-1)|
|150-199||.667 (10-5)||40 - 49%||.647 (11-6)|
|100-149||.600 (15-10)||30 - 39%||.565 (13-10)|
|50-99||.286 (6-15)||< 30%||.250 (8-24)|
|< 50||.067 (1-14)||Turnover Margin||.686 (24-11)|
|> +3||.909 (10-1)|
|Fewest Penalty Yards||.436 (17-22)||+ 2||.750 (6-2)|
|+ 1||.500 (8-8)|
|Time of Possession||.618 (21-13)||0||.500 (10-10)|
|First to Score||.733 (33-12)||-2||.250 (2-6)|
|< -3||.091 (1-10)|
|Home Team||.558 (24-19)|
Discrepancies in some totals are due to ties or virtual ties in a couple games per category. Nine games listed no time of possession results.
First of all: Stanford was horrible. In the "Total Offense" category, the Cardinal alone were responsible for more than a third of the 19 sub-250-yard performances, the highest rate of offensive futility/defensive prowess of any conference to date (the Big Ten had 18 instances of sub-250-yard games and the ACC 16, but the Big East and Big XII had less than half that). Stanford was held to the lowest standard of production in seven of nine conference games, including a 52-yard performance against Arizona, and only missed putting an eighth game there by 19 yards at California.
Otherwise, here we are in the high-flying PAC Ten, looking at winning percentages that correlated more strongly with good rushing totals than the the offenses of the ACC, Big XII or Big Ten. The most successful passing games here finished in the 200-249-yard range, the only one of the ranges within the "Pass Offense" category that had any real relationship with victory; though big passing games were about twice as a common, a 200-plus-yard rushing performance, which resulted in a win on 13 occassions out of 14, was almost twice as likely to come in a win than a 250-yard passing performance. The comparable success of the "Yards Per Pass" category tells a general tale of good running games complimenting big play passes, though yards per carry (teams with a pedestrian 4.0-4.5 per carry average were 10-1) suggests running was often a less-than-spectacular exercise. USC is less to blame for this than SMQ thought, finishing between 4.0 and 4.5 just three times.
Any guesses on the unusually high correlation to victory by the "First to Score" category? Aren't wild comebacks usually the PAC Ten's raison d'etre? No conference yet has had fewer.
Part Eight: SEC Game-by-Game Results