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How FEI and S+P see the game: Oregon at Arizona 2013

The last road game of the season brings us to a familiar place. In Tuscon we have had dreams die and Rose Bowls stay alive on miracle catches and great field goal kicking. And according to the stats, it'll take a Dennis Dixon level of collapse for Oregon to not escape the desert.

Clearly a horrible penalty.
Clearly a horrible penalty.
Steve Dykes

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:

There are some new stats from Bill Connelly this year.

Play Efficiency: the success per play based on the down and distance of the play.

Drive Efficiency: the success of scoring based on the field position created.

Difference in Net Points (DNP): the average of the points an offense scores on a given drive compared to the points it would be expected to score based on starting field position.

And the old ones:

Passing downs: second down and 8 or more, or 3rd/4th down and 5 or more.

OVERALL When Oregon has the ball When Arizona has the ball
Category Oregon


UO Off UA Def UO Def UA Off
F/+ Rk 5 (37.4%) 37 (11.3%) 8 (20.0%) 34 (6.7%) 15 (14.0%) 42 (5.5%)
S&P+ 6 (259.5) 46 (215.3) 5 (135.1) 37 (113.4) 17 (124.5) 57 (101.9)
Play Efficiency

3 (141.6) 38 (108.8) 26 (114.3) 48 (106.2)
Rushing S&P+

2 (143.9) 54 (105.1) 36 (114.4) 21 (120.1)
Passing S&P+

7 (143.6) 41 (108.0) 37 (110.1) 77 (95.8)
Std. Downs S&P+

4 (136.2) 41 (107.8) 30 (112.6) 32 (112.8)
Pass. Downs S&P+

7 (155.4) 37 (111.1) 27 (116.9) 83 (92.6)
Drive Efficiency

9 (128.5) 39 (118.1) 15 (134.6) 61 (97.6)
Difference in Net Points

4 (1.56) 45 (-0.76) 3 (-2.28) 37 (0.28)

In the comments tell me what other games you'd like to see a mini-preview on; now that my program is able to do the work in about 3 minutes, I can put together data pretty fast.

As to today's stats - Oregon's offensive dominance went back up to speed after being a statistical darling in Utah. It's still not quite as good as it was, notably due to Oregon's inability to finish drives; compared to last year this has been a big change. Otherwise Oregon's offense is still remarkably similar to last year's.

Similarity scores for Arizona

On offense Arizona is almost precisely like Washington State (56th) in overall value - but not in particulars. They are good at standard downs and rushing, and horrible in passing downs and passing; Washington State is almost precisely opposite. They are next closest to Tennessee (64th), and Tennessee is much closer in tendencies and value. The main benefit Arizona has over those schools is that their difference in net points is decent. But that's about it.

Arizona is in an odd no-man's land for defense. Tennessee (50th) is too low; UCLA (28th) is too high. They are almost nothing like UCLA in defensive tendencies. They're closer to Tennessee save being better against the run and much worse against the pass.

Similarity scores for Oregon

And we're back into opponents that have never faced anything like us, ever. Except this time it's really, really true.The closest offense that Arizona faced this season to us is Washington (30th). Their schedule has not precisely been a murderer's row of offenses; they haven't played ASU yet, won't play Stanford, and had an absurdly easy OOC schedule. In any case, Oregon is 24 points higher than UCLA; UCLA is closer to Florida (97th) than we are to UCLA. Also for the first time in a while it's kind of startling to see how poor offenses are in the Pac-12 this season. ASU and Oregon are quite good; everyone else is kinda eh.

Defensively Oregon is closest to Utah (22nd). As usual, Oregon is worse across the board than the team being compared to on a per-play basis but finishes drives better than almost anyone and stops people from scoring better than almost anyone.

Oregon's offense vs Arizona's defense

Across the board Oregon has big, happy differentials. They're almost equal everywhere as well - a 39 point difference in rushing, 35 in passing, 29 in standard downs and 44 in passing downs. Oregon might - maybe - get behind the count on drives here and there, but chances are pretty good Oregon won't stall out. There's very little here to concern Oregon fans; Arizona is simply outclassed on defense at every level compared to Oregon. This is a team that gave up 28 to Cal and squeaked by. Oregon should be able to essentially impose their will as they choose. Last week I was wrong and guessed Oregon would run a lot more than they passed against Utah because of balance; this week I suspect we'll see a nice balance of things, all of which largely work.

Oregon's defense vs Arizona's offense

Interestingly Arizona's defense is the stronger unit by advanced stats; their offense is almost 20 points lower valued. That means that Oregon has a strength vs. 'strength' and weakness vs. weakness thing going. Oregon's defense is good but not outstanding, but Arizona's offense is mediocre. The one standout is running the ball, where they have a 6-point advantage. They are almost precisely matched up evenly on standard downs as well. When they pass, Oregon has a nice 15 point advantage; when they're in passing downs Oregon has a 25 point advantage. I would expect Arizona to get some success running the ball; Ka'deem Carey is just too good a player to be shut down. I also expect that Oregon may go the route that they did with UCLA and load the box, daring Arizona to make plays passing the ball. Arizona may run anyway because they're really not good at passing, but Oregon will try to take away that run, I think.

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.

Field Position Advantage (FPA): the share of the value of total starting field position earned by each team against their opponents.

OVERALL When Oregon has the ball When Arizona has the ball
Category Oregon


UO Off UA Def UO Def UA Off
F/+ Rk 5 (37.4%) 37 (11.3%) 8 (20.0%) 34 (6.7%) 15(14.0%) 42 (5.5%)
FEI Rk .288 (4) .104 (36) 8 (.591) 31 (-.262) 13 (-.503) 34 (.260)
Field Position 5 (.569) 33 (.524)

Raw Efficiency 4 (.369) 41 (.085) 5 (.708) 42 (-.177) 4 (-.588) 45 (.160)
First Down rate

7 (.810) 49 (.652) 22 (.598) 57 (.682)
Available Yards rate

4 (.660) 33 (.408) 19 (.365) 47 (.495)
Explosive Drives

5 (.260) 17 (.071) 6 (.059) 64 (.131)
Methodical Drives

111 (.090) 86 (.170) 4 (.078) 16 (.206)
Value Drives

1 (.634) 27 (.308) 8 (.258) 50 (.432)
Special Team rank 9 (2.532) 89 (-.679)

Field Goal efficiency 96 (-.281) 80 (-.057)

Punt Return efficiency 1 (.404) 89 (-.146)

Kickoff return efficiency 9 (.110) 72 (-.188)

punt efficiency 107 (.089) 60 (-.070)

kickoff efficiency 47 (-.202) 71 (-.138)

FEI unsurprisingly improved after Oregon handled a very highly ranked Utah team. Still not as good as Stanford, but 3 spots better than last week. In particular, Oregon's defense rose significantly higher; FEI has no way of telling that Taylor Martin is out with a concussion.

Game Factors: the best and worst of the teams

As before, there is more explanation and examples over at Football Outsiders.

Oregon's highs and lows

high on offense: Washington (12th overall, 2.061)

low on offense: California (896th, -.278)

Standard deviation (throwing out the Cal game): 135

high on defense: California (63rd overall, -.855)

low on defense: Tennessee (403rd overall, .036)

Standard deviation (throwing out the Cal game): 138

Oregon continued their offensive consistency this week, having another top 80 game on offense against Utah. This is now 5 games in a row where Oregon's offense performed in the top of the country. Not even Baylor, Florida State or Texas A&M can say this. On defense, Oregon did incredibly well by FEI standards and scored a value of 106th best; this meant between the two that the Utah game was the 7th best game so far recorded. It may not have looked that way to us, but FEI thought that was one hell of a dominant performance against a really good team.

Arizona's highs and lows

high on offense: USC(3rd overall, 2.469)

low on offense: California(950th,-.385)

standard deviation: 321

high on defense: Utah(101st, -.702)

low on defense: California(800th, .723)

standard deviation: 247

Boy, Cal is really responsible for some odd variations. This week Cal apparently had their Token One Good Week against Arizona and made Arizona look incredibly bad on both sides of the ball. On the flip side, Arizona barely losing to USC but putting up 31 points was one of the most impressive offensive performances all year. Arizona is very, very inconsistent on offense. The good news is that they're trending down; 3 of their 4 recent games were fairly poor (400+ rankings) and the best performance was against UCLA. On defense they're both better and less inconsistent, though they have no huge standout performances.

Similarity scores for Arizona

Arizona is closest to UCLA (32nd). There's almost no one close after that; the next closest is Utah (26th). Arizona is significantly more inclined to do methodical drives than UCLA, but other than that they're pretty close. Unlike many of our recent opponents Arizona's offensive schedule was fairly easy - only 44th hardest. Comparable to Oregon, in fact.

Arizona is closest to Washington (35th) and Utah (28th) on defense. Arizona's scores are much closer to their raw values than Washington and Utah's - both of them have had a top ten most difficult schedule on defense. Arizona's is 58th. Their future schedule is first, however, which makes sense given they face us AND ASU in the next couple weeks. Arizona is much better at getting three and outs than Washington and better at limiting explosive drives than either.

Similarity scores for Oregon

Oregon is closest to Washington (11th). That seems so weird, doesn't it? 11th best offense? A lot of that is simply Washington putting 28 on Stanford. Shocking to no one, Oregon is much more likely to do explosive drives, first downs and get more yards than Washington; Washington gets longer drives significantly more often. Washington's high ranking here is because they've faced the 16th hardest schedule on offense.

Defensively Oregon is closest to UCLA (16th) and pretty far away from USC (3rd). Oregon's tendencies are much better than UCLA against methodical drives (really? huh) and only good at getting 3 and outs. Otherwise they're very similar to UCLA in a broad sense.

Oregon's offense vs Arizona's defense

Arizona is one of the best in the country in limiting explosive plays. I don't know if that's partially to do with the fairly meh group of teams they've faced on offense or they're actually good at making sure nothing gets behind them, but it indicates Oregon will not have a ton of big strikes. They are, however, really bad at dealing with methodical drives; Oregon may be able to get quite a few big drives (at least by Oregon's standards) on them. Every week I say this Oregon goes out and gets like no methodical drives and a couple of huge plays, so...yeah, I don't know. These things are better at telling tendencies than telling how games will often go. In any case, I'd be surprised if we get a lot of big plays, but given our large advantage on running and passing I would imagine we'll be getting yards at a nice pace.

Oregon's defense vs. Arizona's offense

Arizona's strength is doing longer drives and methodical drives. Oregon has the 4th fewest methodical drives against them in the country. Arizona is otherwise average across the board here, so I would expect a couple of stalls and only a little bit of explosion from Arizona. This goes well with their reliance on running; if they can't get a lot going in the passing game it's pretty hard to do anything but long drives down the field when you score.

Special Teams

We still can't kick field goals and we still can't defend the few times we punt, but boy oh boy are we good at returns. Still #1 on punt returns, and now top 10 on kickoff returns and in special teams overall. If we had even an average FG kicking score we'd be in the top 5, easily. Arizona is pretty bad across the board, as it turns out. They're especially bad on punt returns and kick returns, so they aren't likely to break anything and get back in the game that way. They're just okay on defending kickoffs and punts. I probably wouldn't expect we'd break one, but we'd get tantalizingly close to a punt or a kick return. They're not the worst special teams we've faced all year, as bad as 89th is - that honor goes to 111th ranked California, where giving up 5 TDs on punts is Not A Good Thing. Colorado is almost as bad as Cal. If you're wanting a quick preview, note that Oregon State is one spot above Arizona in special teams. Yay!

So what does this all mean?

It means that unless Matt Daddy is really, really nostradamus we should have a fairly easy win.

I expect a steady dose of Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner. I expect short passes and screens. I expect a couple of longer passes, but most explosive plays will be after the catch. Oregon should have consistently good field position thanks to special teams and turnovers. Arizona may be able to stay vaguely close early, but as the game goes on and they throw more they'll get further and further behind. And while Oregon's splits of home/away are not the best, I don't see it being a significant issue playing on the road against Arizona. The current line is a shockingly low 20 points; I would expect Oregon to comfortably match this, and the only way that it is not met is either Tusconpocalypse levels of collapse or if Arizona gets a couple of meaningless scores late. Seriously - this line is close to what it was against Washington and UCLA. Really?

Give the points, bet the money, buy yourself something nice when we win.