Disclaimer: yes, I just watch Moneyball and yes, this post was partially inspired by some of the ideas tossed around in the picture.
With Moneyball and our struggling football program in mind I decided to do some number crunching to try and find out which statistics tend to correspond closely with Win Percentage in college football. First I went to this site and downloaded every statistic they had for the 2010 season. I then converted totals to per/game figures and proceeded to find the correlation coefficient for every set of stats when matched up with the corresponding Win Percentages.
Just so everyone's on the same page, the correlation coefficient is a number between +1 and -1 representing the strength of the relationship between two sets of data, both +1 and -1 imply a direct relationship between the two variables, the closer you get to 0, the weaker the correlation.
So out of the 227 statistics I found on the site (ranging from tackles for loss per game to 2 point conversions allowed per game), here are your top ten in terms of correlation to win percentage:
|Points Per Game||0.81049953|
|PATs Made Per Game||0.79050482|
|PATs Attempted Per Game||0.78464958|
|Touchdowns Per Game||0.77840344|
|Red Zone Scores Per Game||0.76282977|
|Yards Per Play||0.74268679|
|Kick Returns Against Per Game||0.73686075|
|Red Zone Attempts Per Game||0.73351997|
|Red Zone Tds Per Game||0.71731558|
So, for the most part, this list should elicit a massive "no s***" from the crowd. Obviously many of these statistics are directly linked to each other ("So you're saying teams with a lot of touchdowns also score a lot of points and make a lot of PATs and their opponents return a lot of kicks?"). The stat I'd like to focus on though, is one of the two oddballs - "QB Rating".
To give you an idea of how important an efficient QB is when putting together a winning team, here are the top ten teams in terms of overall QB Rating from the 2010 season and their final ranking in the AP Poll.
|Team||QB Rating||Record||Final Rank|
Now, I'm not saying that a great QB would be the answer to all our problems right now but I will note that the last three times we had a QB rank in the top 10 in QB Rating were 2005, 1998 and 1997. That would be our three 10-win seasons in relatively recent memory. Our combined QB Rating for the '99-'04 and '06-'10 seasons on the other hand was an abysmal 118 and our record not surprisingly was similarly sorry (fewer than 6 wins per season).
Just as a reminder, this is what it looks like when a college football team has a top 10 quarterback.
Those were highlights from three games folks, and not even all the highlights, just the ones that would fit into the run time of "Sons of Westwood".
Again, I'm not saying that we shouldn't be better than we are right now and I'm not apologizing for Rick but I think this goes a ways toward answering some of the questions that have come up over the past few weeks. For example, why does Stanford crush us when we've recruited better? Well, in part because they recruited better in the one position that matters way more than any other. And why did we struggle to beat San Jose State and Wazzu? Maybe because we don't have the ability to connect on the all-important big plays with any sort of consistency.