clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How FEI and S+P see the game: Civil War 2015

The only question is whether Oregon is going to break any Civil War records. And that is only going to be answered by whether or not Oregon chooses to show leniency or they choose to sweep the leg.

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 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

Time to give thanks!

We get it. The numbers are pretty stupid when it comes to Oregon this year. That happens. In 2010, for instance, Oregon was only 16th overall and 18th offensively - despite, ya know, winning all but the last game and winning most games by fairly big margins. The main reason then was that Oregon was winning games late, playing meh against bad teams, and having a lot of special teams and field position and turnovers.

But still - sometimes S+P doesn't capture what a team is like. Iowa fans are hoping that's the case now, I'm sure. S+P has gone 4-7 against the spread with Oregon - and even worse, 3-8 straight up. FEI is just as bad too. The reason, however, is that S+P actually doesn't have a chance to get right - because Oregon is about as crazy as you can get. Part of that is the Jeff Lockie / Taylor Alie experience, where Oregon's passing attack looked anemic and Oregon in general looked bad. Part of it is that Darren Carrington is a legitimate star, and Oregon's offense has been different with him too. And part of it is that Oregon has gotten way, way better on defense. The measure of Oregon's team in years past had been a ruthless consistency and a terrifying ability to execute. This year Oregon is nothing like that.

So how good would we have been if, say, we had a healthy Vernon Adams early? I'm not sure. Our offense didn't really kick into high gear until Adams and Carrington got back, and Adams got used to the offense more (or Scott Frost got used to calling plays for him more). Our defense didn't get better until after the ASU suckfest. It's not just been one thing, and while we could have won the WSU game with a healthy Adams - and maybe the MSU game too - we had a healthy Adams against ASU and almost lost that. We had a healthy Adams against Stanford and almost lost that too. Don't get too cute playing what if games and instead try and appreciate what we've had.

Let's be thankful that we have Vernon Adams at all, that the defense has been able to turn it around, that Carrington got back in time for the Washington game, that USC lost both their star linebackers as we were going to play them, that we have had otherwise fairly good injury luck and, most of all, that we are in the running for a 7th-straight 10 win season.

And let's give thanks to the Beavers, who are giving us a Civil War Oregon is all but guaranteed to win.

How S+P sees the game:

OVERALL When Oregon has the ball When OSU has the ball
Category Oregon
Oregon State
UO Off OSU Def UO Def OSU Off
F/+ Rk 23 (28.1%) 115(-43.2%)

S&P Percentile 78.7% 8.7%

2nd Order Wins 6,4 (-0.6) 2.2(0.2)

S&P+ 33(10.0) 114(-13.7) 6 (41.1) 109 (35.3) 84(31.1) 110(21.6)
Rushing S&P+

5(127.7) 100(90.5) 102(89.9) 93(95.6)
Passing S&P+

14(125.6) 117(84.1) 54(103.0) 120(76.4)
Std Down S&P+

4(126.9) 109(89.7) 63(100.6) 100(93.1)
Pass Down S&P+

24(121.9) 102(87.2) 93(92.2) 123(73.7)
Success Rate+

17(116.3) 90(93.6) 52(102.2) 111(88.7)

6(133.1) 110(86.5) 77(96.9) 11(84.7)

12(1.39) 62(1.24) 60(1.23) 115(1.15)

20(47.2) 124(49.5) 103(45.6) 111(37)
Field Position

30(31.7) 92(30.8) 100(31.1) 122(27.0)
Finishing Drives

49(4.98) 117(5.37) 99(5.01) 118(3.8)
Turnover Margin 27(+5) 94(-4)

Turnover Luck +0.81 PPG -0.05 PPG

S+P still probably hasn't quite caught up to what Oregon's like right now - in particular, Oregon's passing attack was in the 50s, and their explosive plays were anemic early in the year (especially running, where Taylor Alie had the longest run of the season and the only one above 40 yards). It's still far close to what Oregon's playing like. In addition, Oregon against the pass has gone from a major detriment to a slightly above average unit. The run defense is still problematic, but that appears to not be too critical given that we've stopped giving up big plays.

On offense, we've actually stayed fairly consistent from early on in a couple areas - running and standard downs. These have actually gone down a skosh. Where we've improved quite a bit is on passing (10 points) and especially on passing downs - a crazy 34 points. Thanks to the long ball, Oregon has been converting at a significantly higher rate against significantly better teams. The other big one is that we went from 97th in explosive plays before the WSU game to 12th. Wow.

Defensively we've switched a bit. Our ranking has stayed about the same as it was around the WSU game, but our passing defense has gotten better while our running defense has gotten worse. My suspicion is that we've started focusing more on defending the pass - via stunts, blitzes, and selling out a bit more. And clearly, it's working some.

Similarity scores for Oregon State

Hoo boy, this ain't the Rodgers brothers. Oregon State is the worst offense that Oregon has seen all year. The next best offense is Colorado (97th). To be fair, that Colorado team did put up 24 against Oregon, so I'd expect some points.

Oregon State compares pretty closely on defense to Georgia State. The team we put  61 on - without Vernon Adams or Darren Carrington. And Georgia State is significantly better against the run. Oregon State is worse than Colorado.

Really, I could just stop right there.

Similarity scores for Oregon

Hey! I get to say it with no qualifications: Oregon has the best offense that Oregon State will see all year. Better than Stanford at this point, better than USC or UCLA. The closest is Stanford, and Oregon is significantly better in every single category.

Oregon's still not great on defense, and still compares to Colorado (96th) - but also to Washington State (81st). Hey, progress! And the closest team is Cal (85th). OSU hasn't done well against any of those teams. Or really, any teams.

Oregon's offense vs Oregon State's defense

There's really not much to say here other than OREGON SMASH. 37 point lead on running. 41 on passing. 37 on standard downs. 35 on passing downs. If Oregon wants to score 100, they should be able to. The one thing that the Beavers do vaguely well is stop explosive plays - they're a bit less than dead average there unadjusted. Adjusted, however, they're 110th - so even that just says they've not played that many explosive teams. Oregon is 6th overall on explosive plays, and that includes the first 6 weeks where Oregon was 47th or so.

There's really nothing to analyze here. Oregon can pick however they want to beat the Beavers. If they want to give Vernon Adams a highlight reel, they'll be able to. If they want to increase Royce Freeman's status and knock McCaffrey out of the Heisman running, sure thing. My suspicion is that if they tailor anything it'll be towards getting Adams some highlights and trying to make his final game at Autzen look spectacular., but this is one of those games where running for 500+ would be the expectation.

Oregon's defense vs Oregon State's offense

In theory this is a closer matchup - except that Seth Collins, their starting QB, is out, and Marcus McMaryion is in. He is a Freshman who has a 35% completion rate and a 4.8 yards per attempt average. That's not much worse than Seth Collins, mind you, but it's still not good. I would expect Oregon State to basically come out in a running attack almost the entire game regardless of down and distance, have their QB and Storm Woods run the ball quite a lot, and see something close to a triple option. And sadly, against Oregon that'll likely be somewhat effective - Oregon's run defense is still the weakest link. While I don't see them getting a lot of big plays, they'll likely string a few downs together. However, if they get into passing downs they're going to be very, very hosed - they're 123rd in the nation, and as bad as Oregon has been they still have a 20 point advantage.

If there's a reason that OSU keeps this game score somewhat respectable, it's because they were able to run a fair amount of clock simply running the ball.

Oregon State also doesn't get sacked very much. Chances are good that we won't be pressuring them particularly well all game.

How FEI sees the game:

OVERALL When Oregon has the ball When OSU the ball
Category Oregon
Oregon State
UO Off OSU Def UO Def OSU Off
F/+ Rk 23 (28.1%) 115(-43.2%)

FEI Rk 20 (15.1%) 118 (-21.0%) 9 (.88) 95 (-.37) 77 (-.10) 105 (-.5)
Field Position 35 (.06) 115 (-.12)

Raw Efficiency 52(4.2%) 125(-28.6%) 17 (.89) 122(-1.28) 97 (-.59) 112(-.58)
First Down rate

8 (82.4%) 108(79.2%) 115 (80.5%) 103(65.7%)
Available Yards rate

14 (55.2%) 123 (59.2%) 95 (51.7%) 111 (37.2%)
Explosive Drives

6 (25.6%) 120(23.8%) 73(14.1%) 110 (7.8%)
Methodical Drives

71(12.8%) 92(15.8%) 66 (14.1%) 86 (11.8%)
Value Drives

18 (49.1%) 122(54.5%) 76(40.7%) 108 (29.3%)

As explained last week, FEI has gone through a slight change so that the values are expected points added per drive. More details here, if you're so inclined.

Well, last week the USC defense was rated highly by FEI. Oops. This week...just ow. Poor Beavers.

Now it's time to play my favorite game - Why Do They Differ!

As you might expect, Oregon State is not particularly liked by either stat system, and they're remarkably agreeable about them. The better question is why is Oregon so highly rated?

The answer is that FEI does weighing of games. The games against better teams tend to be weighed more heavily as well as given more overall value (IE, it looks better doing well against a good defense). As a result, Oregon's worst game by a large margin - Utah - looks less of a big deal compared to Oregon's last few games. And Oregon's last games against Stanford and USC are the 20th and 51st best games of the season. Another reason is that the Pac-12 is a bit higher regarded in FEI than S+P, and that ends up meaning that when Oregon beats one of the top teams in the nation (USC) by 20 points, they skyrocket up.

Similarity scores for Oregon State

After three top 20 offenses, it's nice to get a 105th. Oregon State is slightly ahead of Colorado (109th) and slightly behind Washington (100th - ouch). They're much less explosive than UW but otherwise about the same.

While Oregon State is higher on defense they're still the worst defense we've faced - and yes, worse than Georgia State (82nd) or Colorado (78th). They are also the team that is most prone to giving up explosive plays. That is probably not good news for them.

Similarity scores for Oregon

Oregon still hasn't quite beaten Stanford on offense (7th) but they've gone past USC. Oregon isn't as good at getting yards all the time but is far, far more explosive than Stanford.

Oregon is right next to Cal (76th) and Colorado (78th), and is pretty close to both. All three are bend but don't break defenses, and Oregon is the least likely of the three to give up big plays.

Oregon's offense vs. Oregon State's defense

There's once again not much to analyze. Oregon should be able to get first downs easily, get big plays easily, and do whatever they want. There's just not much there, there. Every single drive, Oregon should get essentially an extra point's worth of value - that's a huge deal. Oregon State has faced a whole lot of good offenses and, kinda okay against them. It still won't be remotely enough.

Oregon's defense vs. Oregon State's offense

This is worse, as Oregon State's weakest unit is their offense. While the Ducks aren't great, they're not so bad that they shouldn't be able to take care of the Beavers. In particular, Oregon will give up a couple first downs on drives - but likely not a lot else.

Special Teams





Special Teams Efficiency
42 (.04)
123 (-.12)
Field Goal Efficiency
15 (44%)
Punt returns vs. punt efficiency
23 (13%)
97 (10%)
Kickoff returns vs. kickoff efficiency
16 (13%)
108 (13%)
Punting vs. punt return efficiency
127 (-33%)
Kickoff vs. Kickoff return efficiency
52 (3%)
Opponent Field Goal Efficiency

Oregon State isn't even getting a break on special teams. Charles Nelson and Bralon Addison should have decent days, our poor punting shouldn't be a problem, and kickoffs should be basically fine. They don't even kick field goals well. What on earth happened to this team?

So what does this all mean?

This is what I said for last week:

So what does a win look like for Oregon? In this case, it's probably about pressuring USC's defense in the middle. With their starting two ILBs out for the season and USC's depth already reeling due to the sanctions (they only have two safeties that are not injured and on scholarship right now) they're still feeling, it's going to be about Oregon's ability to run successfully up the middle and be able to pass out of situations like that. In short, it's going to look a lot like what teams have done against Oregon for a good chunk of the season. Against Stanford Oregon had an 11.0 YPC average up the middle, and chances are good that Oregon's going to have to do about that well and then some against USC. I would also expect some quickie slants and some longer crosses and wheel routes. Taj Griffin may have some more good targets here. What I wouldn't expect is the same amount of time in the pocket; unlike Cal or Stanford, I would expect Vernon Adams to have a lot more pressure, and hopefully the game plan will expect to deal with that. I don't think we'll get big plays based on long passes nearly as much as we'll get big plays from missed tackles and bigger yards after contact/catch.

You might also see some inside screens and draw plays a bit more too. But mostly, a win will look like Royce Freeman just getting crazy amounts of yards on play after play.

On defense, as weird as it sounds - if Oregon wins I think it's going to be because they were able to stop big run plays and force Cody Kessler, Adoree Jackson and especially JuJu Smith to beat the defense. Don't get big plays, force USC to march down the field and hope that they can get a couple of small stops here and there. Another ray of hope is that USC may be playing without another offensive lineman this game - VIane Talamaivao tore his meniscus and is day to day, making the third lineman they've potentially lost this season. Because of that, what I would expect is for Oregon to try and get a stuff, get a longer 3rd down and then go for sacks.

So - big broken plays on offense, sacks and stopping the run on defense. That's what it looks like.

Do I think it'll happen? That's a different question, but the numbers predict that Oregon won't win. Just like the numbers predicted Oregon wouldn't win against Washington, Cal, ASU, or Stanford.

This was sort of a mixed bag. Evan Baylis and Royce Freeman and Kani Benoit all got a lot of good passing yards, but Oregon did most of their damage on big passes, not big runs. Vernon Adams wasn't pressured insanely and often had a crazy amount of time in the pocket. On defense, Oregon did basically force Cody Kessler to beat them, and brought a lot more pressure than they have in the past. They forced JuJu Smith-Schuster to be a star and he wasn't. Really, the Oregon defense looked very much unlike what they have most of the season, and the Oregon offense made USC's secondary look positively silly. The loss of the ILBs was a big deal, but losing their starting safeties appeared to be even worse.

And holy crap, the Oregon offensive line kicked butt.

How about now? It's a -34.5 point line right now, and lines like that are a bit insane - but I think that the numbers are if anything understating how good Oregon is, how bad Oregon State is, and how overbalanced this game is going to get. Everyone agrees Oregon wins - if they do not, it will be one of the biggest upsets in history. I think Oregon wins and covers. (S+P thinks Oregon only wins by 27; I don't see how that happens).