College Football Misleading Box Scores: How to Bet Miami, Notre Dame in Week 8
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne.
If you’ve ever watched any sport, particularly college football, then you’ll understand that the best team isn’t always victorious. That proved to be true in Week 7 as well.
Once you look at the metrics behind the game, you can better understand how the game actually played out rather than just looking at the final score.
This weekly column looks deeper than the basic box score statistics to point out games from the previous week that didn’t end as expected. This information can help us become more informed sports bettors as we get a better idea of who these teams really are.
Georgia Southern 45, James Madison 38
James Madison had only been at the FBS level for six weeks, and it already climbed up to 25th in the AP poll. That lasted for one week.
JMU entered this road game against Georgia Southern as a 13-point favorite. It ended up falling to the Eagles, 45-38, but it’s the latest victim of a deceiving final score.
The Dukes should have had complete control in this game. James Madison posted a Success Rate in the 80th percentile compared to just a 43rd-percentile Success Rate for Georgia Southern. They also outgained the Eagles by yards per play, but it wasn’t enough to overcome their crucial mistakes.
Turnovers killed James Madison in this game. It committed two turnovers on downs in Georgia Southern territory, as well as two interceptions and a fumble. Overall, the Dukes were hurt by an estimated 10.3 points of turnover luck.
That would have been enough to swing this game on its own, but Georgia Southern also blocked a punt early in the game and returned it for a touchdown to tie the game at 14. This play contributed to James Madison having -6.29 punting EPA in this game.
Clay Helton and Georgia Southern escaped with the win, but it had just a 25% post-game win expectancy and would have been expected to lose by 5.3 points, according to ESPN’s Bill Connelly.
It may have fallen out of the top 25 this week, but there’s a chance James Madison could make it back before the season is over.
Miami 20, Virginia Tech 14
This inclusion is for anyone who bet on the Hurricanes this weekend. You can take solace in your bet being a good one even though it didn’t cash.
Miami was an 8.5-point favorite against the Hokies on Saturday but won by a score of 20-14 and failed to cover. The adjusted margin for this game, though, was 18.7 points, which should have been an easy Hurricanes cover.
Miami had a 76th percentile yards-per-play mark to Virginia Tech’s sixth percentile figure. Miami also was better by EPA per play (56th percentile to 16th), Success Rate (45th percentile to 9th) and available yards gained (61% to 39%).
The Hurricanes were in full control of this game but could not separate enough to cover this spread. Miami led the game, 20-0, in the third quarter and then kicked it into neutral to try to lock up the win. VT scored these 14 points at the end of the game in what was essentially garbage time for the backdoor cover. The Hokies scored their last touchdown with 3:20 left in the fourth quarter before the Hurricanes got the ball back and just put the game on ice.
Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke had a strong day, completing 25 of his 42 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 0.19 EPA per dropback.
As of writing, the Hurricanes are 8-point favorites as they host Duke this week. After falling victim to this bad beat, I think that the line for this game should be higher, and I will be taking Miami to cover in Week 8.
Stanford 16, Notre Dame 14
I don’t want to discredit Stanford’s win or try to take away from what it did on Saturday, but the final score that shows a close Stanford win could’ve easily been flipped in the other direction.
Stanford posted just a 22.9% post-game win expectancy and a -5.9 point adjusted margin.
The Irish were hurt by their -7.5 points of turnover luck that came from three lost fumbles. Notre Dame also had two turnovers on downs in this game, with one of them coming on the ND 25-yard line.
This was a close game that just came down to some end-of-game scenarios. On paper, it looks like Notre Dame was a bit unlucky and should have won this game, but the Stanford cover was never in doubt.