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How FEI and S+P see the game: Oregon vs Arizona P12CG 2014

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The championship game will come down to turnovers, stopping Arizona's pass rush and the magic of Mariota.

Steve Dykes/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.

New! If you're curious what these numbers mean, here's a glossary, stolen happily from our friends at Roll Bama Roll.

  • FEI: The Fremeau Efficiency Index, an overall team quality metric that is drive-based and opponent-adjusted. For a more detailed discussion of FEI, check out the PTN primer.
  • OFEI: The offensive component of FEI.
  • DFEI: The defensive component of FEI.
  • FPA: FEI Field Position Advantage, a measure of how much field position value a team earned against its opponents.
  • STE: FEI Special Teams Efficiency, a composite measure of a team's efficiency in all facets of special teams (kicking, punting, and returning), based on points per game.
  • S&P+:S&P+ is primarily play-based and consists of three components: Success Rate, Equivalent Net Points per Play, and a drive efficiency component. The "+" refers to opponent adjustments. For a more detailed discussion of S&P+, check out the PTN primer.
  • OS&P+: The offensive component of S&P+.
  • DS&P+: The defensive component of S&P+.
  • Rush OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on rushing plays for the offense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at running the ball.
  • Rush DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on rushing plays for the defense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at stopping the run.
  • Pass OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing plays for the offense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at throwing the ball.
  • Pass DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing plays for the defense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at defending the pass.
  • PD: Passing Downs, defined as later downs with medium yardage or more to go (3rd, 4th downs in excess of 5 yards to go), as well as 2nd down with more than 8 yards to go.
  • SD: Standard Downs, defined as all downs that are not Passing Downs.
  • SD OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on standard downs for the offense — a good measure of a team's offensive effectiveness on earlier downs and short yardage.
  • SD DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on standard downs for the defense — a good measure of a team's defensive effectiveness on earlier downs and short yardage.
  • PD OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing downs for the offense — a good measure of a team's offensive effectiveness on later downs and long yardage.
  • PD DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing downs for the defense — a good measure of a team's defensive effectiveness on later downs and long yardage.
  • F/+: The F/+ combined ratings combine FEI and S&P+ into one metric that serves as Football Outsiders' official rankings for college football. For a more detailed discussion of F/+, check out the PTN primer.
  • Off. F/+: The offensive component of F/+.
  • Def. F/+: The defensive component of F/+.
  • ST F/+: The special teams component of F/+.

How S+P sees the game:


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

Arizona

UO Off UA Def UO Def UA Off
F/+ Rk 2 (33.3%) 28 (15.4%) 1 (20.8%) 35 (7.0%) 23 (9.4%) 26 (8.3%)
S&P+ 5 (246.9) 44 (210.9) 3 (131.3) 44 (105.6) 21 (115.5) 43 (105.3)
Play Efficiency

2 (142.8) 38 (110.6) 41 (109.1) 65 (101.4)
Rushing S&P+

3 (137.9) 33 (112.7) 44 (106.9) 65 (103.0)
Passing S&P+

3 (150.6) 51 (106.6) 38 (110.1) 69 (99.5)
Std. Downs S&P+

4 (132.4) 41 (109.4) 26 (114.5) 67 (102.0)
Pass. Downs S&P+

3 (168.2) 43 (111.4) 75 (96.4) 64 (100.4)
Drive Efficiency

7 (132.4) 48 (107.3) 9 (138.2) 24 (117.6)

Oregon's rankings went up but its ratings did not in S+P, mostly because of teams in front not doing nearly as well in their last games. Oregon has remained fairly consistent since getting their offensive line back - though they did take a hit in their rushing attack against Oregon State. Remember when I said that against Oregon State we should be able to run at will? Well...we didn't. As a result our running attack plummeted from 141 to 138. Egad!

Meanwhile I look at these Arizona numbers and wonder how on earth they continue to win, much less dominate. FEI's story will look a bit different.

Similarity scores for Arizona

Arizona is interestingly closest to California (41st) on offense. Guess that kind of makes sense given they're both fairly up-tempo teams, but they're pretty different from each other. They're a bit better than Washington State (50th). Despite the hype around Nick Wilson Arizona is worse than Cal at running the ball and much worse at passing the ball. In fact, across the board they're not as good as Cal is in any offensive category - save one. They are very efficient (24th) in their drives, and in general get more points per drive than most teams. They also don't turn the ball over particularly much.

Arizona is worse than UCLA (38th) and much better than Washington (65th). Arizona is better at stopping the run than UCLA but much worse at stopping the pass. They're also worse on standard and passing downs and getting stops.

Similarity scores for Oregon

Oregon is still the best offense that Arizona has seen this year, though it's the second time. The next closest is UCLA (26th) and USC (29th). But what about the prior Oregon? If you go back and look at how Oregon ranked after the Arizona game you'll see that Oregon was right there in most categories - passing, standard downs, passing downs. Where Oregon was not right up there was in running the ball. After the prior Arizona game Oregon ranked 26th in the nation in rushing - which as I said at the time was Oregon's worst rushing ranking since 2005.

Oregon is now 3rd. A healthy Jake Fisher makes a pretty big difference. It's still concerning that we are not running the ball with the same efficiency without Hroniss Grasu, but it is not the drop off it was during the Washington State and Arizona games early in the season.

Because Arizona dodged Stanford this year Oregon is also the toughest defense that Arizona has faced. The next closest are Arizona State (31st) and USC (32nd). That's not the most comforting thing in the world. Oregon is better against the run than USC or ASU are, slightly worse against the pass, better on standard downs and much, much worse on passing downs. Oregon is amazingly great on drive stops - turnovers, stops on 4th downs and getting the ball back.

Oregon's offense vs Arizona's defense

The big matchup advantage for Oregon this week is on passing. While Oregon only has a 30 point advantage running the ball, Oregon has a 45 point advantage passing. Oregon has a fairly decent advantage on standard downs and their usual absurdly large advantage on passing downs. Oregon is also one of the top 10 in getting in to the end zone and scoring on their drives, whereas Arizona is not particularly good. While missing Pharaoh Brown is going to hurt the Oregon offense it does not appear to have slowed down in passing - Oregon's passing ability actually increased against Oregon State. Byron Marshall should have another good game, and hopefully Charles Nelson and Dwayne Stanford will contribute.

However - Arizona is one of the best in the nation in creating havoc from their secondary (8th). While Scooby Wright gets a lot of the press their defense is statistically much better in their backfield. They are similar to Oregon in that they go for the big knockout at the expense of giving up plays. It's not a coincidence that Mariota has 3 interceptions against Arizona in the last 2 years. Arizona also tends to keep things in front and not give up a ton of explosive plays, hoping to get that knockout blow.

Arizona is pretty good against the run from their front line. Their adjusted line yards is 22nd. Oregon is 2nd overall. Arizona will give up a lot of success on passing downs against the run (62nd, vs Oregon's 5th) and are very good on 3rd and 4th down against the run. Oregon is rarely stuffed this season, and that'll continue to likely be the case here. They are also the best team in the country on getting sacks on passing downs - but only 80th on standard downs. And Oregon is 112th in the nation on giving sacks up on passing downs.

What does this mean? Oregon will probably either get 2-3 yards on runs or 8-10 yards. Marcus Mariota will get sacked again. Oregon will also occasionally break off big runs on passing downs and will not face a lot of pressure on standard downs. The key for Oregon will be to stay out of passing downs. In addition to that, Oregon will likely have a fair amount of success on play action on standard downs, but will not have nearly as much success passing on passing downs.

Oregon's defense vs Arizona's offense

Oregon's defense and Arizona's defense are very, very similar. Oregon also gives up a lot of successful plays but doesn't give up explosive ones. Oregon's best unit is the secondary as far as creating havoc (though not as good as Arizona's). Oregon also relies heavily on getting drive stops at the expense of stopping yards. The big difference is that Arizona's offense is good but not great. While they have an advantage on passing, it's only 10 or so points. They are also good on standard downs but do not have a huge advantage, and are almost even with Oregon when running the ball. Early success in the count is going to have a big effect on Oregon's ability to stop Arizona. Oregon's red zone defense will also play a big part.

Oregon's defensive line is at best average. It's good at getting stops on 3rd and 4th down runs but gives up a lot of yards early in the count and very big gains on passing downs. Oregon is frankly horrible on standard downs for sacks and is only mediocre on passing downs getting pressure. The real problem is that Arizona runs really, really well on passing downs, as a conversion on 3rd and 20 might remind you. They give up a lot of sacks and aren't particularly good otherwise, but those draw plays and delay runs on long down and distance situations are killers.

How FEI sees the game:


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

Arizona

UO Off UA Def UO Def UA Off
F/+ Rk 2 (33.3%) 28 (15.4%) 1 (20.8%) 35 (7.0%) 23 (9.4%) 26 (8.3%)
FEI Rk 2 (.303) 9 (.221) 3 (.749) 25 (-.342) 26 (-.336) 16 (.412)
Field Position 16 (.542) 15 (.543)



Raw Efficiency 3 (.262) 25 (.106) 1 (.962) 64 (-.017) 66 (-.003) 22 (.357)
First Down rate

1 (.830) 84 (.697) 101 (.726) 5 (.783)
Available Yards rate

1 (.678) 59 (.441) 88 (.491) 26 (.527)
Explosive Drives

4 (.268) 56 (.123) 52 (.120) 25 (.184)
Methodical Drives

20 (.179) 47 (.129) 114 (.188) 62 (.145)
Value Drives

1 (.657) 52 (.360) 84 (.423) 27 (.463)
Special Team rank 12 (1.788) 66 (.057)



Field Goal efficiency 40 (.159) 88 (-.206)



Punt Return efficiency 17 (.061) 84 (-.146)



Kickoff return efficiency 67 (-.147) 90 (-.188)



punt efficiency 26 (-.210) 35 (-.175)



kickoff efficiency 35 (-.208) 24 (-.237)



While Arizona looks only okay in S+P, they're one of the best teams in the nation via FEI due to their hard schedule, playing well against good teams (like Oregon) and their ability to finish drives on both sides of the ball. Oregon went down after a less than insanely dominant performance against OSU, but only a bit.

And Arizona looks downright scary.

Game Factors: The best and worst of the teams


The key thing here is how consistent Oregon's been over the year vs. how inconsistent Arizona has been. Arizona plays crap against Cal, Washington and Colorado - but is utterly dominant against Utah and plays as good as anyone did against Oregon. Clearly, on Arizona's best day they can challenge Oregon and beat them. On their worst day, however, they'll get destroyed. So far we've got to think that Arizona will rise to the challenge, as they have done so all year. That all being said, we have good evidence to think that at least one of those games - the Oregon game - would go somewhat differently with a healthy offensive line.

Again, the model of consistency for Oregon. Arizona's defense, while good, is not playing at the level that Oregon's offense is - especially after the Arizona game. Even when Arizona played their absolute best it was not their defense that carried the day.

Oregon defense vs Oregon State offense:

And as you might expect, Arizona's offense is far ahead of Oregon's defense. Oregon can play as good as Arizona's offense from time to time, but it will not likely be the case. In addition, Arizona absolutely smoked Utah, having a hugely valuable game. When they're firing, they're firing on all cylinders.

Similarity scores for Arizona

Arizona is closest to almost no one on offense. UCLA is much better (4th). Cal is much worse (30th). They're closest to Cal, but it's a big difference. Cal and Arizona are actually very similar from a personality standpoint; the big difference is that Arizona is not good at all at methodical drives.

Arizona's defense is closest to...well, Oregon (26th). It's next closest teams are Washington (16th) and Michigan State (45th). Yeah, that's right - FEI thinks Michigan State was a completely mediocre defense. Stanford and Utah are still 13th and 15th, though. Compared to Washington Arizona is much worse at giving up explosive plays and better at stopping methodical drives. They've also faced the 7th hardest schedule this year.

Similarity scores for Oregon

As you might expect, Oregon is closest to UCLA (4th) offensively, which Arizona somehow held to just 17 points. Oregon is much better across the board than UCLA aside from strength of schedule, where UCLA had the 3rd hardest in the nation.

Oregon's defense is closest to Arizona State (24th) and USC (23rd). Yep, two teams that Arizona burnt pretty badly. Oregon is across the board worse in pretty much every category than those teams, and will give up a lot of yards one way or another. They will, however, stop drives.

Oregon's offense vs Arizona's defense

By FEI's view, if Marcus Mariota is going to have the game of his career this is the game. Oregon's offense has a very large advantage here and is the reason Oregon will be favored - and it'll come down to Mariota's ability to make plays. In particular, Oregon's ability to get big plays must come into play here for Oregon to have a chance. A long set of drives is likely going to end in field goals or worse; Oregon has to eat up chunks of yardage. FEI thinks that it'll happen.

Oregon's defense vs. Arizona's offense

Oregon has a small disadvantage by FEI here, but only a bit. As I said above Oregon is worse than Arizona at basically every personality characteristic and unlike Arizona will give up some methodical drives. They're better at stopping explosive drives - at least compared to Arizona's offense - but Oregon will have to get some stops here and there.

The scary thing is that Oregon relies heavily on getting turnovers. In particular, Oregon has recovered 21 of the 32 fumbles they've had access to, which is somewhat lucky. They've only gotten 10 interceptions - but have only had 2 all season. That turnover margin has been a massive value. If Oregon doesn't get turnovers, chances are fairly good that they lose. Erick Dargan must again make his presence known.

Special Teams

Category

UO(11-1)

UA(10-2)

EDGE

F/+ Special Teams
12 (3.1%)
66 (0.1%)
OREGON
Special Teams Efficiency
12 (1.788)
66 (.057)
OREGON
Field Goal Efficiency
40 (.159)
88 (-.206)
OREGON
Punt returns vs. punt efficiency
17 (.061)
35 (-.175)
Oregon
Kickoff returns vs. kickoff efficiency
67 (-.147)
24 (-.237)
ARIZONA
Punting vs. punt return efficiency
26 (-.210)
84 (-.146)
OREGON
Kickoff vs. Kickoff return efficiency
35 (-.208)
90 (-.188)
OREGON
Opponent Field Goal Efficiency
69 (.060)
39 (-.147)
Arizona

Oregon once again has big advantages in special teams - though perhaps not where you'd think. The big gains are on punt and kick coverage, where Oregon is dominant. Oregon's punt return unit is strong, but Arizona's punt defense is almost as good. And on kickoff returns Arizona should be great. Oregon has (shockingly) a field goal advantage as well. Oregon should have good field position advantages all day, though i wouldn't expect particularly big returns. If we do get good returns it'll be on punt returns, though with Charles Nelson getting benched over Jonathan Loyd, I'm not sure what to expect.

So what does this all mean?

This is what I said last week:

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.

Well, got that one right. I didn't see Oregon passing as effectively as we did (mostly because I didn't think we would do so), and I expected Oregon to run more - but otherwise the game went pretty well as expected in most phases.

Here's what I said in the Oregon/Arizona game:

And stats wise, Oregon should win a race. I don't think the defense is going to stop Arizona all that often, and if we do it will be like 2012, where Oregon let Arizona get yards and get beyond the 40 and then get nothing afterwards. That's not likely. I suspect it will look a lot like the game we just watched in Pullman, where Oregon cannot reliably stop Arizona but Arizona really can't stop Oregon. As long as Oregon does not stick stubbornly to a game plan where the offensive line is over their heads, Oregon should win by a comfortable margin.

Welp.

We know a lot more about this Arizona team. At the time we thought Arizona was a team the likes of Cal or WSU. At the time we were wondering whether Oregon was the same kind of team. Turns out Oregon was hurt by injuries in depth. Also, it turns out Arizona is a team that is pretty good at times and consistently plays to the level of their competition. There's no real rhyme or reason to who they do well against and who they don't; Cal and Washington are about as different as you can get, and for both Arizona needed a massive amount of luck to get past. UCLA, Utah and Oregon are also pretty different - and Arizona did very well against all of those teams.

Arizona is a good team. Period. Rich Rodriguez has the Wildcats playing at a very high level, and while they've had a fair share of luck they've also not been out of any game. They are inconsistent, streaky and prone to stupid mistakes - but when they are on they are on.

So who are the Ducks? Make no mistake - this is a tough matchup. There are certain mini-matchups that are really horrible, such as the Wildcats ability to sack on passing downs which plays directly into a major weakness of Oregon. Or the WIldcat's ability to stuff the line against the run. Or Arizona's ability to run well on passing downs compared to Oregon's inability to stop them. These are not great things, and should show up in the game to a point. At the same time, Oregon is far better running the ball with a healthier line. They are still an excellent passing team. And they still generate chaos and stops on defense. While this isn't at home, this isn't at Arizona either and the crowd is likely to be Oregon-friendly at the least.

And Marcus Mariota is still the best quarterback in the country right now.

The line is currently 14 points. Arizona is almost certainly a better team than that. I think Oregon will win, but it'll be a one score game.