Wilson: The Luckiest and Unluckiest College Football Teams of 2019 By Second Order Win Total

Wilson: The Luckiest and Unluckiest College Football Teams of 2019 By Second Order Win Total article feature image

Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Alan Bowman

College football season is in the books. And to most gamblers, this is the signal it’s time to focus on college hoops, baseball win totals or even some tennis in Australia.

To me, it means the 2020 season has started and my power ratings need immediate adjustment.

The process for handling the Action Network power ratings in the postseason differs from in-season. A number of factors can change the outlook for a program throughout the offseason.

This time last year, LSU’s Joe Brady was in a NFL Playoff run, Jalen Hurts was still at Alabama and Kelly Bryant was new to the Missouri campus. While it is impossible to evaluate the impact of each news item, purging advanced statistics will give a gambler a head start.

The first set of power ratings in January are crafted with influence from program regression, turnover luck, departing production, coaching changes and second-order win total. These bullet points are quantifiable and can be used to reconstruct a power rating.

This article will focus solely on second-order win total, which compares the advanced statistics of a team to its true results. Second order wins essentially show what a team’s record would be if luck were even across the board.

If a team has a negative SOW value, there was a bit of luck involved. Any team with a high positive value immediately gets attention for a 2020 breakout.

Each game produces a post-game win expectancy. Tally a team’s total post-game win expectancy and compare to the actual win total to get a second-order value.

Those numbers have all been compiled below to identify the teams that truly earned their final grades.

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Second-Order Win Total for 2019

Two Teams Down For 2020

Iowa (-2.3): A 10-3 season capped by a monster Holiday Bowl victory over USC should get the preseason buzz moving for Iowa to win the Big Ten West in 2020.

The Hawkeyes actual record should have been closer to 7-6 at the end of the regular season. The biggest culprit comes from a 16% post-game win expectancy in a victory over Iowa State.

The Hawkeyes have a vicious conference schedule next fall, including consecutive trips to Ohio State and Penn State. Quarterback Nate Stanley will graduate while a host of juniors are expected to join Geno Stone in declaring for the NFL, including Tristan Wirfs, AJ Epenesa and Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Memphis (-2.2): There was a bit of fortune in some of the Tigers victories. Navy gave up special teams touchdowns and granted Memphis plenty of starting field position at midfield.

The same can be said for Tulsa, which held Memphis under a 36% success rate in the second half. The Tigers had just seven scoring opportunities and needed explosiveness to beat the Hurricanes by a single point late in the fourth quarter.

Seventeen seniors depart, coach Mike Norvell is gone, as quarterback Brady White has stated he will return for another season.


— Brady White (@BradyWhite223) January 9, 2020

Two Up For 2020

Texas Tech (+2.5): A 4-8 season in Matt Wells first campaign should keep the Red Raiders off most preseason radars coming into 2020. Texas Tech may have been involved in possibly the craziest ending to any college football game in 2019, a 37-34 loss to Kansas.

This was blocked, recovered, and #RockChalk has another attempt coming pic.twitter.com/qx1Wte4cyJ

— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) October 27, 2019

Texas Tech had a post-game win expectancy of 80% for that contest, but nothing in the win column to show for their efforts.

Quarterback Jett Duffey is transferring, as Wells will look to quarterback Alan Bowman to have his first healthy season. The Red Raiders lose a ton of offensive lineman, but the schedule is kind in 2020 with just three trips outside the state of Texas.

Washington State (+1.9): The 67-63 post-midnight loss to UCLA produced an 80% post-game win expectancy for the Cougars. The Bruins had a 100-yard kickoff return and 69-yard punt return for touchdowns.

The bottom fell out on the Cougars defense in 2019, but lose just five seniors from the roster this offseason.

Oregon nearly lost to Washington State in Week 9, as the Cougars were victim to a game-changing pick six. The box score produced a 66% post-game win expectancy for the Cougars. Former Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich inherits one of the youngest defensive rosters in Power Five in 2019, which has no where to go but up in the advanced stats.

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