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How FEI and S+P see the game: Oregon vs. Florida State 2014

The Rose Bowl is going to be a great game for offensive fireworks, and will come down to the ability of Oregon to cause havoc and turnovers a little bit more than FSU will be able to. The depleted Oregon secondary must rise to the occasion.

Harry How/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/+.

Before we start, you might want to check out the earlier article I did about Florida State during our bye week. Things have changed a little but in general, things have stayed fairly stable since that time.

How S+P sees the game:

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

Florida State

UO Off FSU Def UO Def FSU Off
F/+ Rk 3 (35.6%) 8 (27.5%) 2 (19.9%) 20 (10.2%) 13 (12.6%) 6 (16.3%)
S&P+ 3 (253.4) 15 (234.3) 3 (129.9) 26 (113.7) 12 (123.5) 10 (120.6)
Play Efficiency

3 (140.9) 54 (105.7) 35 (111.5) 8 (132.9)
Rushing S&P+

3 (139.0) 50 (105.9) 42 (109.0) 22 (121.6)
Passing S&P+

5 (145.4) 58 (103.6) 33 (112.7) 7 (141.5)
Std. Downs S&P+

4 (131.6) 48 (106.0) 24 (115.6) 8 (129.9)
Pass. Downs S&P+

3 (162.7) 54 (106.9) 64 (101.3) 12 (136.3)
Drive Efficiency

5 (144.4) 10 (145.4) 4 (171.5) 10 (133.4)

Thanks to a strong beatdown by the defense, Oregon's overall values went up - though their offense took a small hit. FSU, meanwhile, has gotten a smidgen better than our comparison earlier, but not insanely so. In fact, their overall S+P value remains completely unchanged from earlier in this year - both are 234.3. Their defense improved a skosh; their offense went down the same skosh.

Oregon improved by a whopping 8 points since that prior comparison - and all of it was on the defense. I'm concerned that this is probably illusory and more an effect of playing one outstanding game. It's still what it is - a great offense and a decent defense.

Similarity scores for Florida State

Just like in the first article, Florida State is closest to Michigan State (8th) on offense. And that's a really good comparison - they're within 1 point of each other in overall S+P. The next closest is UCLA (20th) but that doesn't look nearly as good comparatively. Michigan State's offense is within a few points on their running ability, passing ability, and looks almost exactly the same on both running and passing downs. The only thing that FSU is better at - and this is surprising to me - is on drives. Michigan State is slightly less good at getting points per drive than FSU is. Otherwise they are very, very similar in style of play.

On defense Florida State is closest to almost no one Oregon's played. So I guess the FSU fans are right - Oregon hasn't faced anything like the FSU defense. That doesn't actually mean they're amazing, though. They are significantly better than UCLA (40th) and Arizona (43rd) and significantly worse than Stanford (7th) and Michigan State (6th). FSU is very good at generating turnovers and stops (10th in the nation), but that too is a MSU thing (8th). Everywhere else compared to MSU they are much, much worse.

Similarity scores for Oregon

The closest offense that FSU has seen to Oregon is Georgia Tech (5th). Unlike the comparison above, this one isn't nearly as close; Oregon has a 5.6 point lead over GT. And if you're curious GT is probably a bit overrated at the time they played FSU, given that DeAndre Smelter was gone for their game. Oregon is better in every category save one to Georgia Tech - Oregon is slightly worse at standard downs.They are massively better at passing downs, however. Oregon also passes significantly more often than GT - Oregon passes on standard downs 43% of the time (compared to 16%) and passing downs (56% vs 44%). Finally, Oregon is significantly more explosive than Georgia Tech is - this will show up in the FEI comparison as well.

Oregon's defense moved up tremendously in the rankings after the Arizona game, and as a result they are up there with the likes of Louisville (16th) - but still far away from Clemson (2nd). Oregon is much worse at success stats compared to Louisville in all categories, but is excellent at stopping drives and is the best team by far that FSU has faced in generating turnovers and 4th down stops.

Oregon's offense vs Florida State's defense

Florida State's success against the run has improved compared to earlier in the season - playing GT will do that - but it is still not a particularly strong unit. Oregon has a 35 point advantage when running the ball. The real difference will likely be on passing; Oregon is stronger on the pass than the run this year and has a 40 point advantage there. This is one of the highest values Oregon has ever had. Having Marcus Mariota, best QB in the nation this year helps a tad. Oregon should be able to do pretty much whatever it wants on offense. Florida State is great at getting odd stops here and there, however, so some drives might stall due to odd things like penalties or more likely turnovers. FSU has gotten 24 turnovers this season - though only 13 interceptions.

Florida State is good but not amazing in creating havoc. Their front 7 is particularly not good (80th overall); they mostly get plays from their very good secondary (22nd). This is similar to Arizona's play, though Arizona was much better at it this season than FSU has been.

Oregon's OLine vs. FSU's DLine
Adj LY Std Downs LY Pass Downs LY Opp Rate Power Rate Stuff Rate Sack Rate Std downs sack rate Pass downs sack rate
Oregon 1(135.9) 1(3.80) 3(4.28) 12(46.1) 60 (67.8) 7(13.5) 54(108.9) 64(4.5%) 107(10.2%)
FSU 46(103.4) 45(2.76) 52(3.12) 54(37.9) 75(68.9) 62(19.6) 108(72.6) 107(2.7) 78(6.8)

Here's a new, shiny table in time for the playoffs - comparing offensive and defensive line play. Some notes here:

  • line yards are in general how many yards the line is responsible for compared to how many yards the running backs get by themselves.
  • Opportunity rate is how often a team gains at least 5 yards.
  • Power rate is how often a run play converts 2 or fewer yards on 3rd and 4thd own.
  • Stuff rate is how often a running play gets zero or less yards.
  • Sack rate is adjusted to opponent and is how often the team is sacked
In general, Oregon's run attack is tremendously good at getting something no matter what. They are the best in the nation at getting some yards on a run. This year a lot of that is not just because of the line, but because of how good Royce Freeman is at running after contact. Unlike prior years where Oregon's running game was explosive but occasionally inconsistent we are seeing Oregon get lots of yards early in the count and very rarely getting negative plays.

Florida State is just slightly above average in their line's ability to stop the run. They are also not particularly good at getting sacks - which is still a weak point for Oregon. Unlike the Arizona game, there's not a whole lot to be worried about here. Oregon should be able to run effectively most of the time on FSU.

Oregon's defense vs Florida State's offense

Oregon's defense is also fairly similar to FSU's defense as far as their primary goals - disrupt, get turnovers, and occasionally give up big plays. The big difference here is that Oregon is much better at stopping the run - and FSU isn't nearly as good at running the ball. Despite the emergency of Dalvin Cook and the shuffling of their offensive line FSU is still not particularly great at running the ball and only has a 10 point advantage over Oregon. Where FSU lives and thrives is on passing the ball. While Oregon's defense is better (slightly) against the pass than the run - and that is likely completely negated by the Ifo Ekpre-Olomu injury - FSU has a massive advantage passing the ball. Rashad Greene and Nick O'Leary both are likely to have very good games. Troy Hill is good, but only so good.

The trick is to end drives. Oregon's high value on defense via S+P is not because of success rate, but because of drive stops. Oregon's ability to generate turnovers (a +17 margin, one of the highest in the nation) is largely how Oregon gets stops. The other way Oregon gets stops is on big stuffs on 3rd and 4th downs with little to go. For some bizarre reason Oregon is aces at stopping people from getting 1 or 2 yards this season, as the table below shows.

Oregon's DLine vs. FSU's OLine
Adj LY Std Downs LY Pass Downs LY Opp Rate Power Rate Stuff Rate Sack Rate Std downs sack rate Pass downs sack rate
Oregon 65(99.8) 61(2.88) 120(3.94) 57(38.1) 5 (52.4) 70(19.1) 74(97) 105(2.9%) 27(9.6%)
FSU 46(106.1) 90(2.74) 92(3.01) 89(36.8) 34(71.9) 96(21.6) 7(177) 48(3.9%) 13(4.8%)

Oregon isn't particularly good on the line. Fortunately FSU's line isn't particularly good at run blocking either. Most of their runs have been either meh or outstanding, with the kind of explosive plays Oregon fans think of when they think of LaMichael James. The one place where Oregon succeeds is power rate, stopping teams on about half of their tries. That should be a bit scary to FSU fans who witnessed FSU failing 3 times in a row to get 1 yard on Louisville.

Oregon will almost certainly not be getting sacks, either. FSU's line and Jameis Winston's mobility in the pocket will almost certainly result in not a lot of hits or pressures. If Oregon's defense is going to shine, it's got to be on getting turnovers and stops against the run game. Chances are not great that Oregon will stop FSU in other ways.

How FEI sees the game:

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

Florida State

UO Off FSU Def UO Def FSU Off
F/+ Rk 3 (35.6%) 8 (27.5%) 2 (19.9%) 20 (10.2%) 13 (12.6%) 6 (16.3%)
FEI Rk 1 (.317) 4 (.262) 3 (.718) 17 (-.419) 18 (-.415) 7 (.649)
Field Position 8 (.549) 85 (.487)

Raw Efficiency 2 (.280) 22 (.123) 1 (.910) 31 (-.227) 59 (-.089) 35 (.220)
First Down rate

1 (.831) 62 (.669) 86 (.695) 25 (.734)
Available Yards rate

1 (.682) 49 (.434) 75 (.464) 39 (.491)
Explosive Drives

4 (.266) 62 (.128) 48 (.117) 18 (.194)
Methodical Drives

35 (.161) 55 (.135) 104 (.172) 52 (.151)
Value Drives

1 (.660) 54 (.363) 71 (.393) 29 (.444)

Because FSU's schedule was fairly hard - harder than Oregon's by F+ - FSU gets raised up in overall ability compared to how they looked in S+P. Oregon remains deeply in love with FEI, thanks to their trouncing of a great Arizona team (again, by FEI) and their defense improving significantly in the rematch. Florida State's value increased a bit due to their schedule getting harder and playing well against Georgia Tech.

Game Factors: The best and worst of the teams

Both teams have been trending up as the season has progressed, though FSU has in general been a bit less improving. Their last championship game improved both teams; one big difference is that FSU had one other game that was as good (their game vs. Louisville) whereas  Oregon had at least two games that were just as good as their Arizona game - against UCLA and against Stanford.

What an odd looking graph; it looks like a heartbeat. Oregon's two big highs - against UCLA and Stanford - were marred by their worst game of the season - Cal. Take out those three games and Oregon has been absurdly consistent on offense, hovering at around 1.5 the entire season regardless of opponent. FSU has also been very, very consistent on defense, hovering just above 0. This tends to mean that what we've seen from FSU's defense is what we're going to get. We shouldn't expect a knockout game from them.

Unlike Oregon, FSU's offensive performance is very, very volatile - as is Oregon's defense. At Oregon's best - games against MSU and Arizona - Oregon can match up with FSU's average. At it's worst it's been even worse than FSU. Virtually anything can happen here; FSU has played extremely poorly in some games and extremely well in others; their best game was against Syracuse, oddly enough. There doesn't appear to be a particular rhyme or reason to their playing either. They've played well against some good defenses and just okay against others.

Similarity scores for Florida State

Florida State is slightly worse than UCLA (4th) and much better than Arizona (20th) on offense. Both were similar in their degree of difficulty; FSU actually faced the hardest strength of schedule against offenses this year (at least by FEI standards). In general, FSU is more explosive than UCLA and less methodical.

Florida State's defense is closest  to - amusingly - Oregon itself (18th) but also Washington (#16) and Utah(14th) -  and worse than Stanford (11th) - and if you were curious, much better than Michigan State (43rd). Because of the weak performance out of conference, the big 10 is seen as hugely lame by FEI - so Michigan State looks entirely mediocre. Washington, if you were curious, is much better at defending explosive plays compared to FSU.

Similarity scores for Oregon

Oregon and Georgia Tech are the closest thing FSU has faced (#1), though by FEI's standards GT is in a class by themselves. Oregon is significantly better at getting explosive plays than GT, and significantly worse at getting methodical plays. GT also faced a much harder schedule.

As I said above, Oregon is closest to Florida State on defense - the next opponent that FSU has faced would be either Virginia(7th) or Florida (8th). Louisville and Clemson are much, much better overall. Oregon's big weakness is giving up methodical drives.

Oregon's offense vs FSU's defense

Oregon has a surprisingly small advantage here - only .300 points. That's still quite a lot, mind you, but it's not nearly the difference that S+P thinks. The biggest difference is on explosive drives; this is what FSU is worst at. If Oregon has to plod down the field chances are good FSU will stop them at some point, but if Oregon can hit a couple of home runs - likely in the passing game - it's pretty unlikely FSU will stop them or slow them down much.

Oregon's defense vs. FSU's offense

FSU has almost as big an advantage as Oregon did on offense. The difference is on matchup types - Oregon is horrible at giving up long drives, but is pretty decent at stopping big plays. That'll be a big key here, as FSU has struggled at times to have long drawn out drives, especially against decent defenses.

Special Teams





F/+ Special Teams
12 (3.1%)
43 (1.0%)
Special Teams Efficiency
12 (1.758)
43 (.553)
Field Goal Efficiency
57 (.049)
2 (.715)
Punt returns vs. punt efficiency
11 (.094)
48 (-.129)
Kickoff returns vs. kickoff efficiency
66 (-.149)
35 (-.207)
Florida State
Punting vs. punt return efficiency
29 (-.192)
96 (-.180)
Kickoff vs. Kickoff return efficiency
26 (-.225)
119 (-.272)
Opponent Field Goal Efficiency
69 (.060)
71 (.069)

Not a big shock here - thanks to Roberto Aguayo, FSU's field goal kicking is close to the tops in the nation. Oregon has very, very good kicking and punting games and should get a lot of field position advantages here, and Oregon also has one of the best punt return games in the nation thanks to the combination of Charles Nelson and Jonathan Loyd. I don't expect a ton of punts, mind you, but they're clearly advantaging Oregon here.

So what does this all mean?

This is what I said last week:

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.

Err, nope. As I mentioned in the preview, Arizona can play up to their opponents or down to their poor opponents - and due to a couple of factors (Anu Solomon's ankle injury and some sloppy offense in general) they simply could not get anything going, at all. Their performance looked similar to how they played against Cal or Washington - but with much worse results.

Florida State reminds me a lot of Arizona in that regard. Their offense is very, very inconsistent - even during their period where they changed their line. It's very difficult to predict how well their offense will do, almost as much as it's difficult to predict how well Oregon's defense will do. It's not particularly hard to say that their defense will not stop Oregon's offense to any major degree; Oregon has had ruthless consistency on offense and FSU has played consistently average on defense. If FSU managed to bottle up Oregon's attack it would be shocking.

Where this game will come down to is how well Oregon's defense can stop FSU's attack. And make no mistake - this is going to be hard. When Florida State is playing well they're as good as essentially anyone in the country, as they showed against Louisville. With Oregon's star cornerback going down to injury chances are pretty good that they'll do well.

The key, I think, is that Oregon has been very good at takeaways - and Florida State has been very bad at takeaways. These aren't all Jameis Winston's fault, but ultimately it doesn't matter; what matters is that Oregon should be able to force or capitalize on errors that will stop drives and give Oregon another possession. I could see the game being similar to the FSU-GT game, where neither defense stopped the other for quite a bit of time. I don't see Oregon being unable to stop FSU like GT did, and I don't see FSU being able to get lucky on stopping Oregon nearly as much as they did GT.

I also think Oregon's ability to stuff a team on power plays will come into play here at some point, essentially counting for one turnover.

I think Oregon wins. The point spread is currently 7; with Ifo out, I think Oregon doesn't cover. (That being said, I could see this easily going like the MSU game did - where Oregon gets a big explosion late)