How FEI and S+P see the game that might have been: Kansas State at Oregon (and a bit about Colorado)

Oregon's going to beat Colorado. Bad.

I can get into all the ways this is clear: Oregon is 3rd in overall F/+, Colorado is 123rd (out of 124). Oregon has double their S+P value. Oregon has 4 times their FEI value. Colorado is ranked 110th or worse on offense, defense and special teams. They are slightly less putrid at defending the run than the pass, and slightly less bad at running than passing, but this is the worst FBS team Oregon has faced this season and it really isn't close. The question statistically is how much the second string team will get to play, how many injuries do we suffer and whether or not we end up passing a bit more than last week (which isn't a high mark, but it's possible we don't even throw a pass this game). What's even worse is that Colorado hasn't seen anything as bad as Oregon. Not even close. Especially not on defense.

So instead of doing the detailed breakdown of Colorado this week, I'm going to do something that was somewhat asked for in the comments of a Quack Fix - check out a hypothetical. I actually do deal in them, from time to time. In this case, let's try and figure out what would have happened...if Kansas State and Oregon hadn't cancelled their matchup and Oregon was playing Kansas State this season. For ease of use I'm assuming that it's at Oregon simply because that's how our schedule for home games worked out this year anyway, and last year would have been the 'away' game that we lost. What would have happened between the star of the Big-12 and the star of the Pac-12? How do we measure up?

FEI is the Fremeau Efficiency Index, created by Brian Fremeau. Brian Fremeau is an author at Football Outsiders, ESPN and BCFToys. FEi 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 is an advanced statistical measure which combines success rate, explosiveness per play and opponent adjustments.

How S+P sees the game:

Oh, tables. How I love thee.

OVERALL When Oregon
Has the Ball ...
When KansasState has the ball...
Category Oregon


F/+ Rk 3 5

S&P+ Rk 2 (290.3) 17(235.5) 1(138.4) 42(104.7) 3 (151.9) 6 (130.8)
Rushing S&P+ Rk

2 (144.2) 31(116.7)
7 (136.3) 18 (127.7)
Passing S&P+ Rk

9( 142.6) 50(103.8) 3(170.8) 3 (155.6)
Std. Downs S&P+ Rk

4 (132.3) 24(114.5) 27 (113.2) 7 (129.9)
Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk

32 (123.6) 45 (113.6) 7 (157.6) 6 (165.8)
Raw S&P

1 (1.066) 35(.671) 2(.473) 6(.991)
Raw Success Rate

1 (55.6%) 73(42.7%) 9 (32.8) 5(52.2%)

2 (.51) 22(.24) 2 (.15) 11(.45)

While the final numbers of the ASU game may not tell the story for basic stats, they told plenty of the story to S+P, who has Oregon as the best offensive team in the country after last week's beatdown. As good as we were on offense we were even scarier on defense - and S+P thought ASU was good, so that kind of dominance was pretty impressive. Much of the game was thrown out as 'garbage time' as well due to the fast start, so really all S+P saw was:

a fluke turnover (fumble luck was bad), 6 consecutive TD drives combined with 8 stops on defense for no points and not a lot of success, along with 3 sacks, 2 ints, multiple tackles for loss and in general no love. What is really interesting to me is that Oregon's raw stats jive with Oregon's actual stats; if anything, they got a bump from some opponent adjustments. They are #1 in the country in raw explosiveness and #1 overall in raw S+P.

Last week, Oregon was 4th on offense in S+P and 3rd on defense. Both scores went up this week, though the offense was the big jump, increasing by 6 points.

Onto KSU. Kansas State is very similarly loved on offense. Here's a shocker however: they aren't the best offense Oregon has faced this year, at least by S+P. Who is? That'd be Arizona, at #4 with 132.9 total. If you're curious, the main difference between the two teams is...playing Oregon. (and Stanford, for that matter). Arizona has played significantly harder defenses and their performance against Stanford's very tough defense really pushes them higher. That combined with a good showing against Washington makes them very strong. And naturally, that helps Oregon's defense look better statistically too. Similar to the tale against ASU, KSU isn't as liked via S+P as FEI. Last week, fortunately, S+P was more right.

Similarities: Kansas State is similar in offensive prowess to Arizona (4th) and significantly better than ASU (21st) and Fresno State (26th). They are similar in defense to ASU (43rd) and Arizona (37th) and much worse than Washington (19th) and Fresno State(15th). While this would mean that this would be a tough game, potentially, it also means no huge surprises; Oregon isn't playing some behemoth on offense. For Kansas State, Oregon is most similar to Oklahoma (#2) on defense and better than Iowa State (#10, by a significant margin worse than Oregon). Offensively West Virginia is the closest, though at #9 they are closer to Arizona State the other way (21st) than they are Oregon. In any case, Kansas State will also not be absurdly surprised by Oregon's prowess either. One thing's for sure: Oregon is by far the most balanced team Kansas State has faced. By S+P, it is the only team that ranks in the top 5 for both offense and defense.

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

This time the advantage goes to Oregon's offense. Despite what happened with West Virginia (a team that S+P is very quickly falling out of love with), Kansas State is fairly mediocre against the pass. They're better against the run than the pass to the point where passing would likely be a good fit, even for the fairly limited Duck passing attack. Oregon's weakness is in converting long 3rd downs; Kansas State's weakness is in giving them up. There are 20+ point advantages across the board here for Oregon. Expect Oregon (if S+P is right) to handle the KSU defense quite well, especially with some play action passes.

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

Oregon's defense is still rock solid in every place but one - in giving up yardage on run/pass possibilities. Kansas State is mostly balanced but favors the pass a bit. I'd expect them to have more success on standard downs when they pass the ball. The trick against Oregon is to not allow Oregon's play to dictate how their offense works, and I suspect KSU would be somewhat successful in that regard - they should likely be able to threaten the run long enough to set up play action and QB runs, and be somewhat effective. note that somewhat is correct; there is only one place (on standard downs) where KSU has any kind of actual numerical advantage. If you're curious, Oregon is very much unlike Oklahoma, in that Oregon gives up a lot on standard downs comparatively (#2 for OK, #27 for Oregon) but is better at defending the pass (#13 for OK, #7 for Oregon). This would be a tough matchup for Oregon, but I would suspect that the defense would perform close to how Oklahoma did - with perhaps a few longer drives.

Of course, FEI disagrees. Really strongly.

How FEI sees the game:

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 Kansas State has the ball...
Category Oregon


F/+ Rk 3 5

FEI Rk 4 (.266) 1 (.288) 27(.243) 8(-.622) 4 (-.694) 7(.550)
Field Position 31 (.531) 7(.563)


15 (.457) 30 (-.324) 4(-.717) 2 (.806)
First Down rate

23 (.764) 26(.611) 25(.611) 16(.780)
Available Yards rate

30 (.542) 29 (.376) 15 (.343) 3 (.651)
Explosive Drives

11(.208) 3(.019) 21(.069) 4(.260)
Methodical Drives

12 (.222) 114(.222) 62 (.139) 41 (.160)
Value Drives

28 (.475) 41(.327) 26 (.288) 4 (.600)
Special Team rank 25(1.327) 9(3.026)

Field Goal efficiency 85(-.265) 53(.101)

Punt Return efficiency 44(-.008) 41(.003)

Kickoff return efficiency 53(-.142) 4(.287)

punt efficiency 23(-.246) 41(-.134)

kickoff efficiency 21 (-.274) 51(-.176)

Oregon jumped quite a bit from last week - from 8th to 4th in FEI overall (.222 to .266), with the biggest change going on offense from 37th to 27th.

Kansas State is, at least this week, the #1 team in FEI. A lot of that I suspect has to do with Kansas State beating the #2 team in FEI - Oklahoma. If you're wondering if FEI is one of the BCS computers...well, Brian Fremeau's fun website is called BCF toys. Make of that what you will. :)

As always, the difference is usually a combination of when garbage time is considered done, how much weight to give turnovers, and how hard your schedule is. While Oklahoma being that awesome is part of it, a lot of it is simply how good all that Big-12 is as far as FEI is concerned combined with having good turnover luck (37.6 points of turnover value) and slightly different calculations of how things work. In particular the big deal is Strength of Schedule: Oregon has had the 102nd hardest schedule according to FEI. Kansas State has had the 15th hardest. FEI tends to emphasize harder schedule strength as a better indicator than S+P does. Don't feel too bad; Oregon has plenty of opportunity to prove FEI wrong, as Oregon's upcoming schedule is 7th hardest in the nation. (and that's even with Colorado on the docket)

Oregon's current Offensive Strength of schedule is 98th. Their future is 7th. Still not really tested. If you're curious, the big thing that challenges it here other than the fictional game against Kansas State is not USC - it's Stanford, who currently has the #1 ranked defense by FEI. Kansas State, by comparison, has faced only slightly harder games (basically Oklahoma) with the #77 ranking, and faces a slightly harder schedule with #51 in the future.

On defense, it's still similar to last week. Oregon has faced a middle of the road schedule on offense (60th) and will face slightly harder in the future (42nd). By comparison, Kansas State has faced the 44th hardest schedule on defense and will face the 4th hardest in the future. It's almost as if they are actually going to play us!

One last interesting tidbit: there are two teams this season that have had a positive value on both offense and defense according to FEI breakdowns - Alabama and Oregon.

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

FEI sees this as a massive advantage for Kansas State, almost as much as our advantage was over ASU last week. The raw numbers look eerily similar save in one place - Kansas State is horrible at giving up long, methodical drives. They are, however, one of the best at stopping explosive drives. I suspect that has to do with the opponents they've played as much as it does their defense, but it doesn't matter; Oregon will likely have to do short passes to succeed.

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

This is a dead heat (again, similar to last week with ASU) where Oregon's D and KSU's offense are neck and neck. The KSU strength is efficiency; they tend to get about 65% of all the yards they can on every drive. that means not a lot of 3 and outs. This is somewhat troubling for Oregon, as a lot of Oregon's methodology is to surrender yards in exchange for loss plays and turnovers; KSU isn't really susceptible to that. They are really great at explosive plays - but Oregon's really great at stopping those.

Special teams:

KSU has a decent advantage here - particularly in their great kick return game and good field goal skills. Not a tremendous advantage, but something that may allow for quicker strikes after an Oregon score.

So what does this mean?

If ASU was a test of whether or not FEI or S+P were more right (looked like S+P to me...), this is the final exam. FEI has KSU clearly as the best team in the country, one of the only teams that is ranked in top 10 in defense and in offense. S+P has Oregon ranked as one of the top 3 teams in the country, and the only team ranked in the top 5 in offense and defense - while KSU is down in the teens. The average definitely favors Oregon. FEI has proven to be very good at predicting in 2010, however. Then again, S+P loved us in 2011.

And more importantly, S+P loved us in 2007, where Oregon was ranked 7th in overall S+P at the end of the season despite that massive collapse. Advanced statistical models have a heart, and that heart will always belong to Dennis Dixon. FEI also appears to be significantly more volatile than S+P does at least right now. For those reasons I'm going to give the edge to S+P and say Oregon wins. A close one, maybe by 8-10 points. Marcus Mariota passes for a season high and the defense holds Collin Klein to 300 yards total offense along with 5 tackles for loss and a couple ints.

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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