White and Nerdy: The SEC’s Performance Was Dominant Against Out of Conference Foes


I have written several times and explained my “normalized” scoring averages.  In short I use offensive and defensive coefficients to “normalize” scores in a game.  At its most simple here is an example: If team A typically allows twice as many points as the national average – “normal” scoring – then a point scored against team A only counts half as much as a point scored against an average team, therefore team A has a defensive coefficient of .5.  Similarly if team A only scores half as many points as the national average, then a point surrendered is “normalized” using the coefficient of 2.0 as each point would be worth two if scored by an average offense.

The next SEC myth combines two previously used excuses.

 

Myth 4: If the SEC plays well against non-SEC Opposition, it’s only because that outside opposition is weak.  Those games mean nothing. 

This type of accusation is the type of problem that “normalized” figures can fix.  If the SEC is playing bad teams (which I addressed in earlier posts), then the teams’ offensive and defensive coefficients should “normalize” those scores.  What does that look like, practically speaking?  The national average of points scored by an FBS school against an FBS school is right around 28.5.  If we multiply the actual scores of these non-Conference games by the SEC’s Oppositions’ coefficients a performance equal to “average” would yield a normalized score of 28.5 to 28.5.

That doesn’t happen.  Why?  Because the SEC is much better than average, even when playing crummy teams and normalizing the performance.

 

Here is a team-by-team look:

Alabama 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
Michigan 14 41 13 62
W. Kentucky 0 35 0 37
Florida Atlantic 0 52 0 48

 

 

Arkansas 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
LA-Monroe 34 31 27 31
Rutgers 35 26 45 47
Tulsa 15 19 13 22

 

 

Auburn 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
Clemson 26 19 17 22
LA-Monroe 28 31 22 32
New Mex. St. 7 42 12 29

 

 

Florida

 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
Bowling Green 14 27 19 47
LA-Lafayette 20 27 16 26
Florida State 26 37 21 60

 

 

Georgia 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
Buffalo 23 45 36 46
Florida Atlantic 20 56 26 47
Georgia Tech 10 42 9 37

 

 

Kentucky 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
Louisville 32 14 25 16
Kent State 14 47 11 52
W. Kentucky 32 31 34 33

 

 

LSU 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
North Texas 14 41 20 39
Washington 3 41 4 47
Idaho 14 63 25 39

 

 

Mississippi State 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
Troy 24 30 22 28
South Alabama 10 30 15 27
MTSU 3 45 3 46

 

 

Missouri 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
Arizona State 20 24 17 27
UCF 16 21 13 27
Syracuse 31 27 30 29

 

 

Ole Miss 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
UTEP 10 28 13 27
Texas 66 31 52 30
Tulane 0 39 0 29

 

 

South Carolina 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
East Carolina 10 48 9 42
UAB 6 49 7 34
Clemson 17 27 11 31

 

 

Tennessee 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
NC State 21 35 23 39
Akron 26 47 33 35
Troy 48 55 44 51

 

 

Texas A&M 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
LA Tech 57 59 31 44
SMU 3 48 3 33

 

 

Vanderbilt 

Opponent Points Allowed Points Scored Normalized Points Allowed Normalized Points Scored
Northwestern 23 13 21 15
UMass 7 49 16 35
Wake Forest 21 55 33 47

 

 So what does all this useless information mean?  Well, remember how I told you that if the SEC had performed “averagely” against an average team these normalized scores would result in a 28.5 to 28.5 score?  That didn’t happen.

With these normalization scores the SEC put up an average score of 36 – 20 (rounded to the nearest whole point).  So in these games the SEC (you know the conference that is only good because they play bad opposition) would have held an average team to 8.5 points below their scoring average and scored 7.5 more than an average team would typically surrender.  Not only that, but every single team in the SEC averaged a win with this data set with Arkansas being the worst performer and still outscoring its normalized competition by 5.34 points per game.  Not surprisingly, Alabama had the best performance with a +36.79 per game scoring gap – per game.

But this is all against really bad teams, right?  So who cares?  Well, I don’t think that assumption is true for all of the reasons outlined here and here, and because of this: 22 of those 41 games played by SEC teams against non-conference opponents saw the Southeastern Conference represented more favorably by normalized scores than actual scores.  What the heck does that mean?  It means 22 of the 41 out-of-conference games played were against above-average teams.

Here are a few examples:

  • Auburn lost to Clemson by a score of 19-26.  Clemson was a much better than average team.  Had they been truly average Auburn would have won the game by a score of 22-17.
  • Florida beat Florida state (another above average team) by a score of 37-26.  If FSU had been average that score would have been 40-11.

 

It goes both ways:

  • Georgia beat Buffalo 45-23, but if Buffalo was an average team the score would have narrowed to 46-36.
  • LSU beat Idaho by 49, but if Idaho was average that gap would have diminished to 13.

 

But, almost 54% of the SEC’s out-of-conference foes were above average teams.  And not to be a smarty-pants, but isn’t that a fairly average situation.  It would be an oddity if the SEC squared off against teams that were below (or above average for that matter) 70-80% of the time.  But a 54/46 split seems pretty close, and it leans slightly to the “good” side.

The SEC dominate non-conference foes, and those foes weren’t all that bad – they were pretty much average.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

About dudeyoucrazy

College Football Writer

Posted on December 8, 2012, in Blog, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Again, you seem to not “get it”.

    We are prepping for the National Championship game, right?

    Notre Dame vs. Alabama, right?

    Compare Notre Dame’s “out of conference” schedule to Alabama’s “out of conference” schedule.

    Notre Dame’s is WAY more impressive. Logic can only conclude ND wins 17-13.

    Have a Gruden!

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