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How FEI and S+P see the game: Civil War 2014

Oregon State has pride and a bowl berth to play for, but their horrible run defense, injuries to their running backs and general level of play says this is an easy Oregon win.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

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, RockMNationFootball 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:

OVERALL When Oregon has the ball When Oregon State has the ball
Category Oregon

Oregon State

UO Off OSU Def UO Def OSU Off
F/+ Rk 2 (33.2%) 68 (-3.2%) 2 (21.0%) 77 (-4.1%) 27 (9.0%) 54 (1.2%)
S&P+ 8 (246.7) 86 (188.8) 2 (131.0) 94 (92.9) 21 (115.7) 78 (96.0)
Play Efficiency

2 (141.4) 76 (97.3) 42 (109.1) 59 (102.5)
Rushing S&P+

4 (140.1) 122 (77.8) 50 (106.4) 38 (112.8)
Passing S&P+

6 (145.8) 35 (113.0) 43 (110.1) 82 (95.0)
Std. Downs S&P+

7 (131.1) 83 (96.8) 30 (113.8) 62 (102.5)
Pass. Downs S&P+

4 (166.4) 70 (98.9) 73 (98.2) 65 (100.8)
Drive Efficiency

7 (132.4) 100 (89.6) 9 (138.2) 87 (93.0)

S+P cares more about how you play, not who you play, so Oregon went up a bit after an efficient dismantling of Colorado. In particular the defense improved, as S+P has no way to know that Colorado was playing without their starting QB, Sefo Liufau. Oregon's offense actually declined a bit, mostly on successes in standard downs.

Similarity scores for Oregon State

Oregon State's offense is closest to Colorado (82nd) and Utah (85th), and worse than Stanford (62nd). The big difference between OSU and everyone else is that they're fairly good running the ball (38th) and somewhat efficient (59th) but much worse everywhere else.

Oregon State is right in the thick of the bad PAC-12 defenses, narrowly beating Cal (95th) and being edged out by WSU (91st). Oregon State is much better against the pass than any of those teams (35th, not too shabby) but is by far the worst rushing defense we've faced this season (122nd). If you're curious who is worse, the teams are in order: New Mexico, Iowa State, Tulsa, Georgia State, Eastern Michigan and Army.

Hope Thomas Tyner is healthy, because Royce Freeman is going to need a breather.

Similarity scores for Oregon

Oregon is as usual the best  thing OSU has seen. And for them, there's nothing remotely close. The next best offense that they've played is USC (30th), which is 20 points difference than Oregon. Oregon is as far from USC as USC is from Northwestern (93rd).

Oregon's defense continues to climb up the ranks of S+P, and is now fairly close to Stanford (10th) and ASU (31st) - though much closer to ASU. Oregon is slightly better against the run and on standard downs and worse against the pass and on passing downs. Oregon continues to be a top ten team at getting drive stops.

Oregon's offense vs Oregon State's defense

Colorado, last week, was 101st against the run. Colorado got gashed pretty much all over the place. Oregon State is significantly worse. This is a 63 point difference between Oregon and Oregon State. That, right there, says virtually everything you might need to know. Oregon has 30-40 point advantages in passing and down types but really their ability to run against Oregon State's porous defense should be the major factor in how this game goes. Oregon State doesn't have a particularly high front 7 havoc rate either (80th, 8.8%) and is worse in general at stopping explosive plays than successes; expect even more big highlight runs from Marcus Mariota and big plays from the backfield. Mariota might have a worse passing day however, and chances are decent that Oregon State baits him into a pick, as they have an excellent 7.5% DB Havoc rate (26th overall) this season. Oregon State is even bad at adjusted line yards (93.6, 91st), giving up on average 3.08 yards on standard down just from the line.

I've never seen a mismatch like this in the 4 years I've been doing comparisons. Typically the comparisons are weird on the high ends due to being super awesome or something and that throwing things off - but teams in general don't go up against one of the worst units in the game at something. Oregon State is going to have a hard time.

Oregon's defense vs Oregon State's offense

This is a much more even matchup, though that's not saying a whole lot. Oregon State has a small advantage running the ball. I would expect Storm Woods to do fairly well assuming he plays. If he doesn't, all bets are off; they would be down to their 4th string running back, losing Chris Brown for the season as well. Their next up is Damien Haskins - a redshirt freshman.

Let's just say that this is a bit harder to predict. If Woods plays chances are decent they'll do okay, but missing Terron Ward clearly hurt them and will likely continue to do so. If Woods plays like he did against Washington, however, I don't know what OSU can do to Oregon.

They also have a small advantage on passing downs, meaning that Oregon often gives up big plays on long down and distances - essentially the thing I hate most. If OSU has to pass, however, they're going to be hurting. And if Sean Mannion reverts to type and likes throwing recklessly expect Oregon to capitalize; they are still one of the best in the nation at turnovers and turnover ratio, and have a very high havoc rate in the secondary (33rd, 7.2%) Oregon is really, really bad on passing downs when the other team is running the ball(122nd in passing down line yards with almost 4) though much of that is due to the Arizona game or to scrambling QBs; I don't expect that to be nearly as big an issue with Mannion, as they rank 118th running the ball on passing downs.

How FEI sees the game:

OVERALL When Oregon has the ball When Oregon State has the ball
Category Oregon

Oregon State

UO Off OSU Def UO Def OSU Off
F/+ Rk 2 (33.2%) 68 (-3.2%) 2 (21.0%) 77 (-4.1%) 27 (9.0%) 54 (1.2%)
FEI Rk 1 (.306) 60 (.010) 3 (.768) 76 (.112) 29 (-.311) 48 (.141)
Field Position 13 (.543) 104 (.476)

Raw Efficiency 4 (.246) 83 (-.056) 1 (.917) 74 (.102) 67 (.022) 67 (-.036)
First Down rate

2 (.824) 33 (.613) 108 (.738) 60 (.678)
Available Yards rate

1 (.664) 72 (.462) 89 (.499) 72 (.437)
Explosive Drives

4 (.265) 44 (.109) 68 (.131) 49 (.153)
Methodical Drives

15 (.186) 89 (.160) 112 (.187) 106 (.102)
Value Drives

1 (.640) 93 (.443) 91 (.436) 69 (.370)

Now that Oregon is hitting some of their easier teams, FEI loves them less unless they put on a great efficient performance. They didn't do quite that; they punted and had a turnover on downs, and FEI loves them a bit less. Only a bit, mind you; they're still #1 and ahead of Alabama.

Thanks to some work I did for Our Daily Bears I'm going to split out the special teams into their own section, making this table a smidgen more tidy.

Game Factors: The best and worst of the teams


These are two trains that are moving in very different directions. OSU was playing about as well as Oregon was during that WSU-Arizona stretch of our season, but then Oregon took off - and OSU went south for a while. They have had one shining example of excellence - the game against ASU two weeks ago. Otherwise they've been fairly bad most of the season. On their best day Oregon State can play with Oregon, and Oregon can play down to Oregon State. But it's very unlikely.

Oregon offense vs Oregon State defense:

Oregon State's defense has been remarkably consistent. They have had exactly one above average game this year - against ASU. Every other game has had them below average. Every single one. That's pretty consistent. Again, if Oregon has an off game like they did against Cal, Oregon State is possibly able to take advantage of them - but they've only done that once this season.

Oregon defense vs Oregon State offense:

Oregon State is all over the place, as is Oregon. Oregon in general tends to play not particularly well, but can play very well occasionally (MSU, UCLA). Oregon State has played well at times - ASU once again comes up, as does their underrated game against San Diego State, but in general they're decent. Not great, but decent. And they've not been negative all season.

Similarity scores for Oregon State

Oregon State looks much better to FEI  (at least on offense) due to them having played a fairly tough schedule overall. They're in a weird spot on the graph where they're not really close to anyone. The next closest is Colorado (60th) and the next best that Oregon has faced is Cal (35th). Oregon State isn't really special in any way, but one thing they don't do is methodical drives.

On defense the shine comes off. Oregon State is just one spot above Cal (77th). OSU is much better at getting 3 and outs and stopping explosive drives than Cal, but has faced a much weaker schedule so far.

Similarity scores for Oregon

Oregon State dodged UCLA and Arizona this year, so the next closest team they've faced to Oregon is Washington State (19th). Oregon is not particularly similar to WSU, being better at basically everything save (surprisingly) methodical drives.

Oregon' defense is right there with Washington (25th) and USC (31st). Oregon's not particularly great at anything either; the best thing they have got going for them is they're decent against explosive drives.

Oregon's offense vs Oregon State's defense

Oregon has a slightly smaller advantage over OSU than they did over Cal, but it's still pretty massive. FEI sees OSU as a potentially decent offense with a bad defense, and both S+P and FEI agree that OSU is not going to do that well defensively. Unlike the Colorado prediction OSU is expected to be mostly weak at giving up a lot of yards and giving up long drives, but not giving up the explosive ones. 10-12 play grinding drives might be the rule for Oregon this weekend.

Oregon's defense vs. Oregon State's offense

Where Oregon supposedly has a big advantage is on defense - almost 500 points. Oregon State's best advantage or chance is to get big plays. They're fairly bad at methodical drives, bad at getting available yards and significantly worse at field position than Oregon. I would expect a couple of broken plays leading to big drives, but otherwise I would expect OSU to stall, stall and stall some more. Again, Storm Woods should have a big game. Sean Mannion not so much.

Special Teams





F/+ Special Teams
11 (3.2%)
72 (-0.3%)
Special Teams Efficiency
11 (1.798)
72 (-.156)
Field Goal Efficiency
45 (.106)
3 (.701)
Punt returns vs. punt efficiency
17 (.063)
113 (.111)
Kickoff returns vs. kickoff efficiency
64 (-.156)
68 (-.154)
Punting vs. punt return efficiency
22 (-.214)
97 (-.184)
Kickoff vs. Kickoff return efficiency
24 (-.230)
45 (-.128)
Opponent Field Goal Efficiency
61 (.012)
65 (.045)

Well, that makes it a lot easier. Let me know in the comments if you like this style more and would like to see it applied to the other comparisons.

Oregon has a massive advantage in the punt game on both sides. Charles Nelson and Devon Allen should both have good games here, and if there was a time to house it this would be a very good time. I wouldn't expect OSU to get much advantage anywhere save in field goals; they might kick some long ones this game. Still, most of this is a big advantage to Oregon, and expect Oregon's beneficial field position to continue.

So what does this all mean?

This is what I said last week:

This week we have a Colorado team that plays up to its competition fairly well. We also have a Colorado team that is still young, does not have a ton of talent everywhere and is coming to Autzen to face one of the best offenses in the nation. Colorado isn't a bad team, and is certainly not the doormat they were last year. They're not a good team though, and barring some collapse Oregon should have their way with them. In particular, the running matchups and ability to get explosive plays play way too much into Oregon's bread and butter.

The point spread tells another story though - 33 points. That's way too much, even at home; Oregon hasn't beaten anyone that badly this year save South Dakota and Colorado is about as good as Cal or Washington State. Plus, I suspect Colorado will get some points. I expect Oregon to win - probably by about 3 scores - but they won't cover.

Man, the covering is so brutal. Missed it by 1 point! Ugh. Probably should have factored in the injury situation. Starting a new QB is going to be tough, and Colorado never really got the yards or got things going. Their coach absolutely kicked butt at playcalling and aggressiveness, and for that I say hat's off. They played to win, and fought hard. I did mention that Mariota was more likely to have a highlight with his legs than his arm, and sure enough that's what happened. So...yay?

Oregon State is a very different kind of team than Colorado. I don't know what to make of them. They're hugely erratic, does not play up to competition and doesn't appear to do anything all that well. But there is one key factor that continues to hold, and that is that they are absolutely terrible against the run. I don't see how a team that is actively bad against the run is going to do well against Oregon.

If Storm Woods plays I can see OSU maybe staying in it for a while. If he doesn't I don't see how they can. It's going to be on the road which helps somewhat, but only some. Civil Wars are occasionally close, but also occasionally are dominant wins by Oregon. The spread opened at somewhere between 17.5 and 20. I just don't see how Oregon State is going to stop Oregon enough to keep it that close. I expect Oregon to win and Oregon to cover - possibly very easily.