How FEI and S+P see the game: Oregon at Arizona State

Welcome back from the bye week and the new biggest test ever that Oregon has ever faced, EVER. edition. Panic, get freaked out, worry greatly about Arizona State. It's on the road, it's a huge deal, it's a nationally televised game, they're great on offense and defense and have had an extra...err, okay, they've had no extra time to prepare, unless you count their week playing Colorado as extra time. The big story this week is that I'm going to be utilizing the powers of 1994 teh internetz and actually have data in tabular form so it should be a bit easier to read.

This week is special for another reason as far as the stats go: it's a giant nerd fight between S+P and FEI. FEI hates Oregon (for sufficiently small values of hate) and loves Arizona State, while S+P still loves Oregon more than almost anyone and thinks Arizona State should have simply not played Colorado. When two parents fight, who do you side with? FEI would say that this will be a very close game with Oregon barely winning; S+P says that Oregon should blow through this with the same ease they did Washington and Fresno State. The spread says 9 points and I think Oregon beats that because of three factors: Oregon running the ball well, Oregon stopping explosive plays and a huge advantage on special teams. (a huge advantage in what?)

FEI is the Fremeau Efficiency Index, created by Brian Fremeau. Brian Fremeau is an author at Football Outsiders, ESPN and BCFToys. It is an advanced statistical measure for college football that tracks drive efficiency instead of per-play success.

S+P is created by Bill Connelly. Bill Connelly is an author at SBNation, RockMNation, Football Study Hall and Football Outsiders. S+P an advanced stat which combines success rate, explosiveness per play and opponent adjustments.

How S+P sees the game:

Behold! The glorious table in all its glory, ripped happily off from FO's SDA writeups and then fiendishly adapted for my personal gain! Note that this is different than the FO tables in that I'm doing only S+P in one and FEI in another.

OVERALL When Oregon
Has the Ball ...
When Arizona State has the ball...
Category Oregon


F/+ Rk 3 30
S&P+ Rk 2 (281.1) 31 (224.7) 4(132.6) 112.6 (26) 3 (148.5) 112.1 (28)
Rushing S&P+ Rk 5 (140.1) 84(94.0) 4 (141.1) 67 (103.4)
Passing S&P+ Rk 12 (136.0) 19 (129.0) 4 (158.4) 18 (130.0)
Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 5 (134.1) 35 (108.4) 36 (107.7) 37 (112.4)
Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 64 (105.6) 34 (120.6) 13 (148.7) 24 (135.6)
Raw S&P

3 (1.048) 6(.517) 2(.460) 24(.922)
Raw Success Rate

1 (55.6%) 7(32.2%) 8 (32.6) 18 (49.1%)

4 (.49) 8(.20) 2 (.13) 20 (.43)

Hmm. This is actually missing a few things, like prior week comparisons. I'll think about how to do that for next week.

Last week: 2nd overall (284.0). 3rd on offense (134.7), 3rd on defense (149.3).

Yes, even on our bye week Oregon loses points. Our defense apparently got worse and our offense got much worse. The best bet, as always, is to blame Washington. Okay, no. The best bet is to blame Fresno State, which probably hurt us the most in their game. In any case, don't worry about it.

The big crazy thing is that Arizona State dropped a mighty 14 points after their meh game against Colorado, bringing them to a lowly 31st. They are similar to Oregon in that they are balanced on offense and defense; they are dissimilar to Oregon in that they aren't amazing at offense or defense.

Similarities: Arizona State is similar in offensive prowess to Washington (34th) and Fresno State (31st) and not as good as Arizona (12th). They are similar in defense to Washington (21st) and worse than Fresno State (17th). And yes, that means what you think it does - Fresno State and Washington are (by S+P) better teams than Arizona State. For Arizona State, there really aren't that many similarities; Missouri is the hardest defense they've played (23rd). The big scary thing for Arizona State is that they haven't come close to an offense as good as Oregon's - the best they've played is amusingly Cal's, at 35th; Oregon is 30 points better than Cal. And 30 points better than Missouri on defense, come to think of it.

Oregon's offense vs. Arizona State's defense:

As usual we're not great on passing downs and good everywhere else. This isn't that surprising at this point and we've not seen a lot of reason to believe we'll see a change. The big, giant, neon sign that says 'awesome bro' for Oregon: the 84th ranked rushing performance of the ASU defense. For whatever reason Arizona State is simply weak against the run. Very, very weak. This is as weak as any opponent Oregon has faced all year - a mighty 45 point difference. This leads me to the first prediction: we're going to run the ball an awful lot, and we're going to succeed. This makes sense anyway - we don't want to make Mariota do too much on this game regardless - but this means we'll be doing a lot more running than we do usually. Or that our runs should be very successful.

Oregon's defense vs. Arizona State's offense:

Oregon remains excellent across the board. The one weakness, if you can call it that, is that Arizona is very strong on standard downs. Expect us to give up a few yards on first down here and there. Everywhere else, however, Oregon should do quite well. There's nothing really to say here; Oregon is dominant at every level according to S+P. FEI is where it gets a lot more interesting.

How FEI sees the game:

For the first time this season FEI starts doing their breakdown by offense, defense, and special teams - a really good week to break out the tabular data.

Some definitions from the FEI site. For offense, these are the drives that the offense does. For defense, these are the drives that the defense has allowed. Also note that these are not weighted by defensive strength or anything like that, so they correspond best to raw overall numbers.

First down rate: the % of drives that result in at least one first down.

Available Yards: the ratio of yards gained by total yards to go

Explosive drives: the % of drives that average at least 10 yards per play.

Methodical drives: the % of drives that take 10 or more plays

Value Drives: the % of drives that start on their side of the field and make it to the opposing 30 yard line or better.

OVERALL When Oregon
Has the Ball ...
When Arizona State has the ball...
Category Oregon


F/+ Rk 3 30
FEI Rk 8 (.222) 18 (.135) 37(.183) 31(-.308) 7 (-.630) 47(.146)
Field Position 28 (.535) 27 (.535)

13 (.495) 14 (-.538) 7(-.644) 34 (.272)
First Down rate 13 (.797) 12(.565) 34(.627) 22(.772)
Available Yards rate 20 (.566) 4 (.287) 21 (.356) 13 (.583)
Explosive Drives

9(.220) 11(.048) 26(.068) 67(.123)
Methodical Drives

16 (.220) 20(.097) 70 (.153) 92 (.105)
Value Drives

19 (.500) 4(.179) 36 (.313) 10 (.551)
Special Team rank 19 (1.888) 88(-1.101)

Field Goal efficiency 82(-.265) 99(-.447)

Punt Return efficiency 18(.110) 97(-.216)

Kickoff return efficiency 65(-.181) 42(-.103)

punt efficiency 13(-.296) 82 (-.013)

kickoff efficiency 23 (-.270) 44(-.211)

To compare to last week: Oregon was ranked the following: 11th overall (.206). .367 in game efficiency (2nd), 43rd in strength of schedule (.259), 12th in offensive efficiency (.514), 6th in defensive efficiency (-.624), 34th in field position (.535). So yay! We improved. Again, blame Washington. No, seriously, that's almost certainly why.

And wow, that's quite the drop off from S+P. Want to know why? Remember the mantra: FEI values turnovers more and strength of schedule more. S+P values individual plays more and turnovers less.

Oregon's current Offensive Strength of schedule is 109th. Their future is 16th. Amusingly enough Arizona State is basically identical; their current OSOS is 100th, their future is 8th. By FEI standards neither offense has been tested all that much. That'll change for Arizona State, at least.

On defense, it's quite the opposite. Oregon has faced a middle of the road schedule on offense (49th) and will face slightly harder in the future (34th). By comparison, Arizona State has faced the 116th hardest schedule on defense and will face the 12th hardest in the future. Ouch. This is why, by the way, that all the above breakdown numbers look so good for Arizona State on defense - because they have played an easy schedule so far. Expect this to get worse after this game.

Oregon's offense vs. Arizona State's defense:

FEI sees this as a virtual dead heat with Arizona State having a small advantage. Oregon's turnovers and Arizona State's generation of turnovers are the real culprit here; Oregon has been inconsistent and ASU fairly good. ASU has been very good at stopping value drives and available yards (these tend to go together) and pretty good across the board; Oregon has similarly been fairly good across the board at everything, being equally adept (by ratio) at explosive drives and methodical drives (essentially 1 out of every 5 drives is one or the other). FEI doesn't break it down by run/pass, so we don't see that kind of result here. That being said, expect both some longer drives and some big explosive runs from Oregon.

Oregon's defense vs. Arizona State's offense:

This is where Oregon should shine (at least if FEI's right). ASU is good at getting some yards, but is poor at explosive drives. Oregon is great across the board but especially good at stopping drives early. The weakness of Oregon has been giving up long, slow drives - but that's also ASU's offensive weakness. I would expect that ASU will only have success on either short fields or long grindout drives, and nothing is going to be easy.

Special teams:

Yes, as I said at the top - Oregon has a ridiculous advantage overall in special teams. Wha? Really? What about our field goal issues? What about DAT not getting a whole lot of yards? Well, both of those are true; we rank 82nd in field goal efficiency and 65th on kickoff returns. However, our actual defensive coverage is brilliant on both punts and kicks and our punt returns are very good - mostly because of all the short punts we get thanks to DAT. Yep - FEI measures accurately how awesome DAT is at making people terrified of him, and I love FEI for that.

The other issue is that Arizona State is quite frankly awful at all parts of special teams play. They're okay at kickoffs and kickoff returns, but absolutely abysmal at punt coverage (one way or another) and even worse than Oregon at kicking field goals. How crazy is that?

This should be a massive advantage for Oregon. Possibly the biggest that Oregon has. I'm going to go out on a limb and state that we'll get either a turnover on a punt, a punt block or a punt TD this game.

So what does this mean?

Arizona State is a team without many weaknesses. The weaknesses they have, however, line up very well with Oregon strengths. Playing this on the road is going to hurt, but that is going to be mitigated somewhat by having a bye week and being as well-prepared as Oregon is, as well as simply being a much better team than Arizona State has so far faced offensively or defensively. I do expect Oregon to hurt itself a couple times, but I also expect the consistency of the run game, the great defense and some great special teams play making up for it. Kenjon Barner and Colt Lyerla should both get a fair amount of carries, Marcus Mariota may have more running yards than passing yards, and expect De'Anthony Thomas to have a breakout game in special teams.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or the Addicted To Quack Moderators. FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable Oregon fans.

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