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Teams Meeting Criteria for the Championship Blueprint – Week 1

One thing I’m going to try & do this season is track how teams are doing in regards to the blueprint for BCS Championships. You can find all the information I’m talking about in this post which gives some idea of what I’m talking about, but also links to the specific articles from Clashmore Mike which details the actual study. To simplify things, the study basically identified 26 statistical categories that basically all BCS Championship teams have in common. You don’t have to satisfy all 26 categories to win a BCS Championship, but you do have to satisfy the overwhelming majority. Here is how the top teams did according to this criteria.

#1 Oregon Ducks = 26 of 26 Criteria Met

Beating down New Mexico 72-0 is going to make your team look very very good statistically. The only relevant statistic that they came close to not making is completion percentage for their QB. The cutoff is 61% and Oregon QBs had a completion % of 62%. Essentially Oregon showed us what they can do under absolute perfect conditions, which is a 72-0 hammering of the Lobos. Tennessee is down, but I don’t expect Oregon to post a perfect game against the Vols.

#2 Alabama Crimson Tide = 25 of 26 Criteria Met
Missed Category: Turnover Margin

You need to be at least +6 in turnover margin by the end of the season to meet the requirments for BCS Championship quality. Against San Jose St., the Tide were a net zero when it came to TO margin so they are on pace to finish even in that category. That puts them below the criteria. Alabama was close on a couple of other categories. The cutoff for defensive yards per carry is 3.4 & the Tide allowed 3.1ypc. They also allowed 10.8 yards per pass completion with the cutoff being 11.8. Last year Alabama allowed 2.8ypc & 11.1 yards per pass completion so they are basically replicating last year’s numbers. If I recall correctly, last year’s Alabama team had a particularly nasty defense.

#2 California Bears = 25 of 26 Criteria Met
Missed Category: Turnover Margin

Like Alabama, Cal only had 1 criteria not met and it was TO margin. In some ways, the Bears had just as dominant game statistically as Oregon had despite the turnovers. The only categories they come up a little short is their rushing ypc, but that wasn’t for lack of trying. HC Jeff Tedford pounded the football in the Bears 52-3 win over UC-Davis, but Cal only managed 4.9ypc. It’s a solid effort to be sure, but RB Shane Vereen was just a bit off. Defensively, Cal looks better than both Oregon & Alabama in the box score. Then again, Cal played a D2 school. Getting Colorado this week should produce different results.

#4 Ohio St. Buckeyes = 24 of 26 Criteria Met
Missed Categories: 3rd Down Efficiency (offense), opponents completion percentage

Ohio St. converted only 33% of their 3rd downs & the cutoff is 43% so obviously Ohio St. needs to work on that. The held Marshall’s QBs to a 51% completion percentage & the cutoff is 50% so they missed that mark by the slimmest of margins. It’s somewhat interesting to see them struggle that much on 3rd down, especially with Miami-FL coming to town which poses a much bigger risk to their 3rd down conversion rate than lowly Marshall. It wasn’t like Ohio St. was 1/3 in the category either. They faced 3rd down 12 times & converted 4 of them. Miami-FL allowed just a 29% conversion rate on 3rd down last week so we’ll see how it goes. Interestingly enough, Miami-FL also completed 73% of their passes. If the Hurricanes convert 70+% of their passes & dominated 3rd down efficiency does it automatically mean a Miami-FL win?

#4 Arizona St. Sun Devils = 24 of 26 Criteria Met
Missed Categories: Expected Rushing Attempts (offense), passing yards/game allowed

Arizona St. won their opener 54-9 over Portland St. so it’s not a huge surprise to see them this high, but other teams beat up on FCS schools and didn’t match 24 areas of criteria so we should at least take pause to think the Sun Devils could be much better than we initially thought. The cutoff for expected rushing attempts is 476 & Arizona St. is on pace to rush 455 times this season. That’s significantly up (19.1%) from last season’s totals. ASU is probably close enough on the rushing attempts and to be honest, RB Cameron Marshall didn’t give ASU much opportunity to pound the rock. He rushed for 104 yards & 3TD on ONLY 4 CARRIES! It was 30-6 at halftime so ASU cruised in the 2nd half. Another thought is that Arizona St. wanted to see what it had with new QB Steven Threet who transferred in from Michigan. They allowed 209 yards passing while the cutoff is 200. That’s going to happen when you blister a team early & force them into passing for the rest of the game. Arizona St. came very close to a perfect game.

#6 Miami-FL Hurricanes = 23 of 26 Criteria Met
Missed Categories: Turnover Margin, Expected Rushing Attempts, Rushing Yards/Game

Solid 45-0 win over Florida A&M. I pointed out some of the flaws surrounding Ohio St.’s missed categories & how that might affect them against the Canes so I’ll do the same in reverse for Ohio St. It’s odd that Miami-FL missed the boat in their running attack. The Expected Rushing Attempts is marginal. Like I said, the expected rushing attempts cutoff is 474 & Miami-FL is on pace to rush the ball 468 times. Turnover margin to me has something to do with luck (maybe a lot to do with luck) which leaves us with rushing yards per game. Miami didn’t fail to try and run the ball. They ran the ball 58% of the time against Florida A&M, but managed just 4.3ypc. The cutoff is 4.6 so they were close, but Ohio St. allowed but 2.1ypc against Marshall. Ohio St.’s front-7 is going to be much tougher than Florida A&M’s.

#6 Mississippi St. Bulldogs = 23 of 26 Criteria Met
Missed Categories: Passing Yards/Attempt (defense), Completion % (defense), Passer Rating (defense)

Mississippi St. was dominant defensively in their 49-7 romp over Memphis in their opener. The only criteria that came up short on was defensively related to the pass. This game was over very quickly as MSU was up 14-0 after 1Q, 21-0 after 2Q & 42-0 after 3Q. What’s interesting here is that MSU wasn’t deficient in the passing yards/G despite making Memphis a predominant passing team given the nature of the game. The cutoff for passing yards/attempt is 5.7. Mississippi St. carried a 6.1. The cutoff for completion% is 50%. Mississippi St. allowed 63%. The cutoff for opponent’s passer rating is 101.3. Mississippi St. allowed a 111.8. They were close to having a perfect game. Forget all that though. A lot of people thought MSU might have a tough time offensively because they lose star RB Anthony Dixon and starting QB Tyson Lee. That wasn’t the case. HC Dan Mullen obviously knows a thing or two about offense and rFR QB Tyler Russell was 13/16 for 256yards, 4TD & 0INT! New RB Vick Ballard rushed for 60yards & 2TD on 7 carries. Facing Auburn at home tomorrow is going to be interesting. Auburn didn’t show much defensively in Week 1, but I’d hate to have a bad pass defense against a Gus Malzahn led offense. Thursday night just got a lot more exciting. You want to know how sick Vegas is? The line right now for this game is Auburn (-2.5)!

#6 Syracuse Orange = 23 of 26 Criteria Met
Missed Categories: Turnover Margin, Points Per Game, Expected Rushing TDs

I was pimping the Doug Marrone bandwagon quite a bit last season & the HC didn’t disappoint with a 29-3 opening win over Akron. It wasn’t so much the win per se (Akron sucks), but the fashion in which Syracuse did it. They met 23 of the 26 championship criteria, the most of any team in the Big East. While it’s certainly premature to think Syracuse could be a major factor in the conference, it is relevant to say that Syracuse returns 10 starters on defense. Marrone saw solid improvement in his first year as HC & if the Orange make the same improvements in Year 2, then the average point differential for them as a team should be at +2 for the 2010 season. They missed on TO margin, PPG & expected rushing TD. The expected rushing TD mark wasn’t because they didn’t commit to the run. Syracuse ran the ball 63% of the time for over 200 yards. They simply didn’t punch it in. They missed the PPG mark by a FG so we are splitting hairs there. The TO margin is concerning however. The Orange were -3 in the game with 2 fumbles & a pick. Syracuse was -6 in TO margin last year. I think the category is fickle, but if Lady Luck is siding against Syracuse this year, you can be sure that the Orange will be a better team than their record might indicate. Playing at Washington this Saturday becomes very very interesting.

#9 Georgia Bulldogs = 22 of 26 Criteria Met
Missed Categories: Yards Per Play, Yards Per Game, Passing Yards/Attempt, Passing Yards Allowed/Completion

It’s sort of odd to see Georgia missing three offensive categories after they pasted Louisiana 55-7! It’s weird to think but they only had 377 total yards despite amassing 55 points! Six of the points came off a 4Q pick-6 by Jakar Hamilton, but you would still think the Bulldogs would total more yards than 377 on 49 points. They didn’t miss by much either. They averaged 5.5 yards/play with the cut off being 5.8. The yards/game cut off was 403 so UGA missed it by 26. The cut off for passing yards/attempt was 7.9. Georgia was 6.2. Georgia’s pass defense had a hard time stopping Louisiana’s TE Ladarius Green. The 6’6/230lbs junior caught 4 balls or 87 yards & the lone TD of the game for Louisiana. Georgia did an outstanding job limiting the Ragin’ Cajuns to just 8 of 24 passing, but those 8 passes netted 114 yards which drove up UGA’s Yds/Comp on defense. I’m getting on Georgia a bit, but this really was a dominating game for them. They didn’t even play WR AJ Green or RB Washaun Easley. Considering this was their first game in a 3-4 defensive front & that rFR Andy Murray was playing in his first collegiate game, I’d say getting 22 of the 26 categories counts as a blockbuster performance. With the way Florida played against Miami-OH, Georgia could be in for a HUGE season.

#9 Iowa Hawkeyes = 22 of 26 Criteria Met
Missed Categories: Turnover Margin, Expected Passing TD, Opponents Completion%, Opponents Passer Rating

Eastern Illinois’s Brandon Large was 13 of 20 for 92 yards & 1TD without throwing an interception. It’s not like Iowa was getting lit up by an elite passer. Large essentially played it safe all game long with his largest completion going for 37 yards. You take that one pass out of the equation and Large completed 12 passes for 55 yards. Iowa shut down EIU’s passing attack. Expected passing TD is another one that will correct itself out. Iowa really didn’t use their vertical attack with Johnson-Koulianos or McNutt. They didn’t have to as Adam Robinson pounded the ball early giving Iowa a huge lead that allowed them to cruise. The Hawkeyes ran the ball 65% of the time. Turnover margin is another one that is interesting. It’s shows up as influential towards determining a BCS Champion because intrinsically it make sense that if you take care of the ball and not allow your opponents to take advantage of mistakes, you’ll win more games. However, there is some regression to the mean associated with it. Teams simply don’t stay at +19 in TO margin on an annual basis. Iowa starts the year at -2 in TO margin which doesn’t look so hot. If they put the ball on the ground, games against Iowa St. & Arizona become significantly more difficult.

#9 Stanford Cardinal = 22 of 26 Criteria Met
Missed Categories: Turnover Margin, Points Allowed/Game, Expected Rushing TD Allowed, Opponents Completion%

Sacramento St. isn’t exactly a powerhouse. Stanford was up 38-7 at halftime en route to a 52-17 smack down. The 17 points allowed killed them in this category. They gave up a rushing TD which projects to them allowing 13 rushing TDs on the season. The cutoff is 9. They allowed a 56% completion rate instead of the benchmark 50%. Again the TO margin is interesting for reasons I’ve already mentioned. There is nothing to bag on Stanford here. Offensively they were amazing. QB Andrew Luck threw for 316 yards & 4TD. The Cardinal rushed for 200+ yards & 3TD. They took the foot off the gas a bit in the 2nd half with a huge lead which led to some criteria not being met, but for the most part Stanford played a perfect football game to kick off the 2010 season. Stanford isn’t getting a ton of hype, but this team returns an awful lot of players from an 8-5 squad a year ago that was this close to being 12-1. I don’t think they lose THAT MUCH because Toby Gerhart is playing in Minnesota & not Stanford.

#12 Florida St. Seminoles = 21 of 26 Criteria Met
Categories Missed: Turnover Margin, Expected Rushing Attempts, Passing Yards Allowed/Game, Opponents Completion%, Opponents Passer Rating

FSU couldn’t have asked for a better start than a 59-6 pasting of Samford. It was Samford so it’s not like we know a ton about Florida St. (we’ll know this week after a visit to Norman), but 59-6 is an impressive score nonetheless. FSU was up 42-0 in the 2Q before allowing a FG to make it 42-3 at halftime. This is going to skew the stats a bit. QB Christian Ponder shredded the Samford defense. FSU scored so quickly that it didn’t really give FSU any time to establish a running game that killed the clock. On the other end, FSU got out to such a lead that Samford became primarily a passing team which led to some inflated passing statistics. What’s sort of interesting about this game is that the Seminoles did give up 300 total yards. That seems like quite a few for hammering a team by over 50 points. Our friend turnover margin pops up again. I’m not really too worried about the criteria FSU missed given the nature of the game. I still don’t like TO margin though. Florida St. plays Oklahoma & BYU the next couple of weeks & they’ll need to be on the positive side of the ledger to get wins.

#12 Arkansas Razorbacks = 21 of 26 Criteria Met
Categories Missed: Turnover Margin, Expected Rushing Attempts, Passing Yards Allowed/Attempt, Passing Yards Allowed/Completion, Opponents Passer Rating

It took Arkansas a quarter to get started (they were down 3-0 after 1Q), but Ryan Mallett & the Pigs caught fire & torched Tennessee Tech 44-0 from quarters 2 through 4. Mallett ended the day 21 of 24 passing for 301 yards & 3TD. He did throw an interception. Sort of an odd game statistically. Tennessee Tech tried to run the ball even though they were getting blown out. They rushed the ball 43 times but gained only 79 yards which makes you wonder what was going on. Their QBs were 7/14 for 108 yards which shows why Arkansas’s passing allowed numbers are a bit off. I think the expected rushing attempts will even out. One thing that is misconstrued about the “spread” offense is just how run oriented it is. Splitting 3-4 wide spreads the defense out obviously, but that doesn’t only mean single coverage on the receivers. It also means a lot more wide open space for running backs. When Petrino was winning games in Louisville, he was pounding the ball with big physical runners and incredibly efficient passing. I think Arkansas will look more and more like this going forward. Competition here should be noted, but almost a perfect game for Arkansas.

Right now these are the top-13 teams in the NCAA according to the championship criteria. I only discussed those who at least met 21 of the 26 because if you fall below 21 then teams are meeting less than 80% of stated criteria. That seems too low to me so I didn’t count them. Here is a conference breakdown with the number of criteria each team satisfied:


Miami-FL 23
Florida St. 21
NC State 20
Georgia Tech 17
Virginia 17
Duke 14
Wake Forest 13
Clemson 13
Boston College 13
Virginia Tech 9
North Carolina 8
Maryland 7

BIG 12

Baylor 20
Texas A&M 20
Nebraska 18
Texas 15
Iowa St. 15
Oklahoma St. 15
Missouri 14
Colorado 14
Kansas St. 13
Kansas 12
Texas Tech 11
Oklahoma 10 (Wow that game against Utah St. was B-A-D!)


Syracuse 23
South Florida 20
West Virginia 20
Rutgers 19
Cincinnati 6
Connecticut 4
Louisville 3
Pittsburgh 2 (Panthers looked AWFUL against Utah)


Ohio St. 24
Iowa 22
Wisconsin 20
Penn St. 18
Michigan 17
Michigan St. 17
Indiana 14
Minnesota 10
Northwestern 7
Illinois 7
Purdue 3 (Loss to Notre Dame was MUCH worse than 24-13)

PAC 10

Oregon 26
California 25
Arizona St. 24
Stanford 22
Arizona 19
USC 10
Oregon St. 5
Washington 3
Washington St. 3


Alabama 25
Mississippi St. 23
Georgia 22
Arkansas 21
Tennessee 20
Kentucky 19
Auburn 18
Florida 16
South Carolina 14
Mississippi 14 (How did they lose that game to Jacksonville St.?)
Vanderbilt 10


Houston 19
Notre Dame 15
Navy 15
Air Force 15
Utah 14
Nevada 13
TCU 12
Army 12
Fresno St. 12
Hawaii 9
Boise St. 8
Southern Mississippi 5
Temple 5
Northern Illinois 3


September 8, 2010 - Posted by | BCS, Rankings, Statistics, Studies

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