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How FEI and S+P see the game: Oregon at Washington 2015

Just...look away, Oregon fans. Look away.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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 the Five Factors: efficiency, explosiveness, finishing drives, field position, and turnovers (measured largely by sack rate). This is then adjusted for opponent strength.
  • Second Order Wins: Defined here, this is how many wins a team would have expected to have won if you just take how well they actually did in a game.
  • S&P+: The overall S+P rating, given as both a percentage and as a margin above the average points scored. IE, a team with a +10.0 S+P would likely score 10 points more than a team with a 0 S+P.
  • OS&P+: The offensive component of S&P+.
  • DS&P+: The defensive component of S&P+.
  • Weighted S+P: This weights more recent games more heavily, giving a bit more value to teams that do better as the season goes on (or teams that get devastated by early injuries after looking great).
  • 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/+.
  • 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

We should have beat WSU - and it doesn't matter at all

We can talk about what we did to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but it doesn't really matter - as far as the stats go, Oregon played better than WSU did in the last game.

That hardly matters, however. Regardless of whether or not we played good enough to win - either here or against MSU - what really matters is how we played. And largely, Oregon played fairly badly. Especially on defense. Against a fairly poor team.

Despite my hope about how the Colorado game looked, Oregon's defense has continued to decline. While we have been able to get more pressure, we have also failed to get stops in any meaningful, consistent way, giving up both tons of field position and tons of points. We have not been able to hold in the red or the orange zones.

And that, sadly, is what the key for this game is. Vernon Adams may start, or Jeff Lockie may start, or Bralon Addison may start - and none of that matters, because none of them are starting on defense.

How S+P sees the game:

OVERALL When Oregon has the ball When Washington  has the ball
Category Oregon
UO Off UW Def UO Def UW Off
F/+ Rk 55 (6.3%) 31(24.0%)

S&P Percentile 50.5 83.9

2nd Order Wins 3.7 (0.7) 3.0(0.0)

S&P+ 64 (1.3) 23 (13.6) 27 (35.0) 7 (13.7) 97 (33.7) 80(27.2)
Rushing S&P+

20(125.5) 38(112.9) 86(93.5) 46(111.7)
Passing S&P+

64(105.1) 16(130.4) 81(96.0) 74(102.1)
Std Down S&P+

13(124.2) 9(133.4) 90(92.8) 18(122.5)
Pass Down S&P+

91(95.3) 42(115.7) 68(101.2) 85(97.2)

71(1.24) 27(1.13) 57(1.21) 92(1.20)

10(49.6) 44(37.4) 96(44.8) 86(39.9)
Field Position

49(31.2) 89(30.3) 78(29.7) 15(32.9)
Finishing Drives

63(4.88) 4(2.88) 117(5.52) 80(4.62)
Turnover Margin 43(+2) 77(-1)

Turnover Luck +1.11 PPG -1.08PPG

As I've said in the past, while Oregon's values are fluctuating from game to game a bit they're staying around where they've trended all season. To whit:

  • Oregon is a successful running team that if it gets behind in the count due to, well, almost anything, will almost certainly fail to convert and drives will fail.
  • Oregon is not particularly explosive on offense and will tend to fail on drives that do not have big plays.
  • Oregon's defense cannot consistently stop anyone, though they tend to prevent really big plays, and getting teams into long down and distance scenarios does not matter.
That is Oregon's identity this year, statistically. It sucks.

Similarity scores for Washington

Washington is a better team as a whole than Michigan State this year. That might surprise people given MSU's high ranking, but MSU has played at a fairly mediocre level for most of the year so far. They are, however, pretty different than MSU.

On offense, Washington is closest to Georgia State (100th). It's not a great comparison however, as Washington runs the ball significantly better and is far better on standard downs, whereas Georgia State is far better on passing downs. Washington State's offense is better (56th), though again - very different style of play.

Washington this year is a monster defense, and is nothing like anything Oregon has played so far. They are far better than Utah (24th). The bright side is that Washington is worse than Utah at defending the run. The very dark side is that Washington is amazing on standard downs compared to Utah, and that is about the worst thing imaginable for Oregon.

Similarity scores for Oregon

Oregon remains statistically a pretty decent offense. It's still the worst offense measured by S+P that Oregon has ever had, but hey - still decent. It doesn't hold a candle to Washington's toughest opponent, USC (3rd), though it is better than Cal (38th). Both of those teams are much much better passing the ball (HOT TAKE) and much better on passing downs.

Washington hasn't faced a defense like Oregon's this year and it's not really close - Oregon is by far the worst defense the Huskies will have seen. Only Washington State (102nd) and Arizona(110th) are going to be worse on their schedule, and only barely. Cal (65th) is the next worst defense that they've seen and that's somewhat comparable in most places save one - Cal is significantly better on passing downs than Oregon is. Otherwise it's a pretty good comparison. Ish.

Oregon's offense vs Washington's defense

Oregon has a small advantage against Washington running the ball, and given current trends will continue to run the ball as much as humanly possible. We won't be getting a giant game from anyone, however. Washington is the best team we'll have faced that gives up very little in line yards, doesn't tend to give up explosive plays, and is all around stout against the run. They're not perfect; as we saw against USC, they can get undisciplined some times and overpursue. That being said, they were happy to let USC run the ball and focus on defending the pass. That is almost certainly not going to be the case against Oregon, where I suspect they will stack the box heavily and force Oregon to beat them with some kind of passing, and let stars like Kevin King or Darren Gardenhire take their chances.

The real problem is that Washington's defense on standard downs is absolutely dominant - a top 10 team, and they have a 10 point advantage over Oregon. Oregon's only real hope for drives is to stay ahead of the count, and even that isn't always good - but if they can't get good yards early on, Oregon fails to get a successful play 7 times out of 10. Part of that is that they've been so good against passing teams, but part of it is simply that they are a very solid defense in all phases and just don't give up a lot of successful plays, period. Washington's defense might not be as dominant as Stanford's was back in the day, but they are just as dominant on standard downs as those 2012 and 2013 defenses were, and that is a major problem for Oregon.

Statistically I can see Oregon having some success on runs - say about 50% of the time we get a successful play. We likely need at least 2 successful plays to stay out of a passing down - so the chances of that happening are 25%. If that doesn't happen, we get into a passing down, and that means we convert against the Huskies about 25% of the time. Therefore, about every 1st down has about a 30% chance of getting another 1st down. Which means that Oregon has to explode if they're going to score - and Washington doesn't let a lot of big plays go against them, either.

Now, you might say that Vernon Adams is a key factor here. And he might be given how well he did against UW last year. The major issue there is that UW's defense this year is far better than last year, especially against the pass. Washington was able to do very well against USC in both passing and running; it's hard for me to imagine that Oregon, even with a healthy Vernon Adams, does better than Cody Kessler and USC.

Another fun fact: the Huskies are top 5 in preventing points scored on drives. Even if Oregon gets down into the red zone, chances are good they'll just come away with a field goal.

Oregon's defense vs Washington's offense

The general consensus is that while Oregon's defense is weak, the weakness that they really have is not a major issue against Washington.

That's not really true.

Washington isn't as pass-happy as WSU is, but they pass significantly more than the average team does (45% on standard downs, 80% on passing downs). Furthermore when they run they have a major advantage over Oregon - over 20 points. They have a decent advantage passing the ball too, but it may not matter; Oregon isn't particularly good at defending the run, as Utah showed (and honestly so did Colorado and WSU). The one advantage Oregon does have is on passing downs (and it's only 4 points), but that doesn't matter a ton, as the Huskies have a 30 point advantage in standard downs. The chances of getting the Huskies into a long passing situation are not particularly high.

One ray of hope? Washington gets sacked a lot. They give up  sacks about 11% of  the time on passing downs and 5% of the time on standard downs. If Oregon has a chance it has to be because DeForest Buckner and Torrodney Prevot have monster games. My fear is that Washington won't bother passing that much and will simply run and do screens most of the game, taking that out of the equation nicely.

How FEI sees the game:

FEI is slowly coming to the realization that Marcus Mariota isn't coming back for his senior season.

Category Oregon
F/+ Rk 55 (6.3%) 31(24.0%)
FEI Rk 45 (.058) 35(.091)
Raw Efficiency 73(-.019) 55(.029)

This is the first game where FEI thinks Oregon is going to lose, straight up. It won't be the last.

So what does this all mean?

This is what I said for last week:

So is it a trend or a blip? Based on my prior analysis I think it's closer to a trend. Colorado had been good at protecting their QB - and Oregon was brilliant in pass rush. Colorado had been good against stopping big plays - and Oregon had a ton of big runs and passes. Oregon didn't improve in a couple of key areas I was really hoping for, but they did get better in places that I expected there to be a hard time doing so. To me, that's a sign that it wasn't just going up against an easier team - that it's a change in our philosophy and attack.

Because of that, and because WSU is even worse of a team in almost the exact same ways that Oregon is good, I think Oregon wins - and wins big. While I don't expect our defense to shut down WSU I do expect DeForest Bucknerto get some big plays. More importantly I don't expect WSU to be able to stop Oregon basically at all.

S+P believes Oregon wins but doesn't cover - it has Oregon by 15 and the spread is 17. I have them by 25. Oregon wins, and covers handily.

Not remotely close.

Oregon's pass rush was a bit better, but that was confounded easily by screen pass after screen pass that gained massive yards. This has been a problem against every single opponent Oregon has faced and was not helped at all here. Oregon's running game was still very strong, and Royce Freeman broke huge gains on hard running, but Taj Griffin was mostly a nonfactor other than 2 runs and the passing game was simply not there. WSU was able to stop Oregon enough, especially when Oregon hit a passing down. And that ended up being the game.

The good news is that the numbers didn't see that coming either. I was a bit more positive than the numbers, but neither saw a WSU win. So if you're hoping that the numbers and I are wrong, there's a bit of hope for you.

This week it just isn't pretty. The line is currently +21/2 for Oregon - one of the very few times in recent history where Oregon has been the underdog against a PAC-12 team, and the first time in 11 years that Oregon has been the underdog vs. Washington.

Sadly, I think that it understates things. Oregon's offense is likely to not get many points at all, even with a healthy Vernon Adams. Oregon's defense is likely not going to stop Washington at all, period. This game may look like an even more frustrating version of the 2009 Boise State game. Barring some exemplary special teams play or some crazy lucky breaks, Washington is going to win, and likely is going to win in a dominant fashion.