Sunday, October 10, 2010

Huskers Top College Football Ratings and Rankings at SportPundit: Cornhuskers YPPSYS Stats by Yards Per Play and Schedule Difficulty Lead the Nation

For NCAA college football fans....

After Alabama's upset loss to South Carolina, based on yards per play stats and schedule difficulty, YPPSYS ranks the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Number One in college football after the 6th week of play, followed in order of ranking by Boise State, Auburn, TCU, Utah, Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, Florida State, Michigan State, Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa, California, Oklahoma State, LSU, South Carolina, Stanford, Nevada, USC (Southern Cal), Florida, Texas, Virginia Tech, and Michigan.

The Buckeyes are now ranked first by the AP and the USA Today polls, but such a ranking is virtually impossible to justify via either the standard performance stats, or by detailed stats on offense and defense (see cfbstats.com), where Ohio State lags behind other teams. There is no doubt they have a fine team, but Number One should mean just that - the best - in performance, not on the drawing room table.

The Buckeyes, for example, are averaging 6.7 yards per play on offense and 4.1 yards per play on defense, a NAYPPA of 2.6 yards, against a schedule that is, according to the Massey Ratings, at best about even with the schedule of the Nebraska Cornhuskers (38.55 to 38.53), and if you look at the Sagarin USA Today ratings, the Huskers schedule ranks 76th and that of Ohio State 117th, and yet, the Buckeyes are putting up weaker stats, which is why Sagarin rates Nebraska 6th and rates Ohio State 15th.

The Huskers are averaging a nation-leading 8.1 yards per play on offense and 4.1 yards per play on defense, a staggering NAYPPA of 4.0. NAYPPA is the net average yards per play advantage that a team has over the opposition, which, for the best college football teams of all time hits a maximum near 3.0 yards per play advantage over the course of an entire season. The Huskers will be unable to keep this stat as high as it is now against stiffer competition, but they may nevertheless set records if they continue at their current pace, given the schedule that they have yet to play. In any case, we will know a lot more next week, after the Huskers play Texas.

We also include Oklahoma in the top 10 with a cautionary footnote, since the Sooners in six games have gained fewer yards per play on average than their opponents, and are below average both in the output of their offense as well as in the staunchness of their defense. An "average" median FBS team gains about 5.4 yards per play on offense and allows 5.3 yards per play on defense. The figures for Oklahoma are a below-average 4.9 yards per play on offense and 5.8 yards per play on defense, hardly the mark of a top 10 team. With stats like that, their luck is not likely to hold out for the entire season, although we are rooting for a Nebraska-Oklahoma Big12 Championship Game, as in the days of yore, when it was THE football game of the year.

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