Thursday, September 23, 2010

Statistical Characteristics of BCS Champions – The Alabama Case

What follows is an update to work done during my days at Saurian Sagacity. In essence, I’ve been compiling and analyzing what are the most common statistical characteristics of BCS Championship teams going back to 2000 (Oklahoma). With the addition of Alabama’s title of 2009 we now have 10 years of data on the following statistics of BCS title winners –

Kickoff Returns
Net Punting
Pass Defense
Pass Efficiency Defense
Passing Efficiency
Passing Offense
Penalty Yards per Game
Punt Returns
Rushing Defense
Rushing Offense
Scoring Defense
Scoring Offense
Total Defense
Total Offense
Turnover Margin

What I’d found was that, prior to Alabama’s title, the 4 most important statistical commonalities were (from most important) –

1. Scoring Defense

2. Total Defense

3. Pass Efficiency Defense

4. Passing Efficiency

And the least important statistics related to success were (to least important) –

12. Passing Offense

13. Kick Returns

14. Total Offense

15. Penalty Yards

So how did Alabama match up in these categories?

Scoring Defense – Alabama ranked 2nd in this category with 11.71 ppg, just under the previous average national Rank of 5.4 and average points surrendered of 13.9 per game.

Total Defense – The Tide were 2nd nationally giving up 244.14 ypg. They also improved the average in this category which was a ranking of 8th, and 281.6 ypg surrendered.

Pass Efficiency Defense – Also a standout for ‘Bama with a national rank of 2nd and a rating of 87.67. The previous averages were 6.7th national rank and rating of 95.3.

Passing Efficiency – The Tide’s numbers were a little worse in this category than the typical title holder at a national rank of 34th and rating of 138.5, where the previous 9 averaged a rank of 12.3 and a rating of 150.

In other words, the Tide had almost exactly what we expected from a title winner statistically.

But how about the least important statistics?

Passing Offense – The nine previous BCS champs average a ranking of 42.5 in this category, or only 237.2 yards per game. Alabama didn’t disappoint, and in fact was far worse than your average title winner with a ranking of 92nd and a meager 150.5 ypg in the air.

Kick Returns – Who cares, right? Past winners ranked an average of 48.3 and 32.6 yards, while the Tide were 33rd in the category with 23.32 yards.

Total Offense – The average for this stat for past BCS champs is a ranking of 26.8 nationally with 434.3 ypg. Alabama once again showed the irrelevance of this statistic by ranking 42nd nationally with only 403 yards per game.

Penalty Yards – Alabama bucked the trend here with a relatively low 14th ranking nationally for 42.71 yards per game. In fact the ’09 Tide were the 2nd least penalized BCS title winner in our sample, behind only Ohio State who lost 40.29 yards per game to penalties in 2002.

So, for the most part, Alabama was exactly what we would expect, statistically, from a BCS winner. With their data now added to the totals we will next look at who might be this year’s winner from a statistical standpoint.

NEXT – Who appears ready to wear the crown, at least statistically.

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