College Football Misleading Box Scores: Unexpected Results from Texas Tech vs. Houston, Duke vs. Northwestern, More Week 2 Games
John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Wide receiver Xavier White #14 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
If you’ve ever watched any sport, particularly college football, then you’ll understand that the best team isn't always victorious.
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.
In recent years, Coastal Carolina has established itself as one of the better Group of Five teams in the country. After the Chanticleers' opening win against Army, Coastal Carolina entered Week 2 determined to maintain that momentum against FCS opponent Gardner-Webb.
If you just look at the final score of 31-27, you would presume that Coastal escaped with a win in a game that was closer than it should have been.
In reality, it should have been a massive upset. The Runnin’ Bulldogs thoroughly dominated Coastal Carolina.
The Gardner-Webb offense produced an 82nd-percentile success rate, 64th-percentile EPA per play and 92nd-percentile yards per play. In contrast, the Chanticleers only managed numbers in the 51st, 17th and 50th percentiles, respectively.
Bill Connelly’s post-game win expectancy figure only gave Coastal Carolina a 17.8% chance of winning this game. In fact, Connelly's expected margin was a 7.7-point Gardner-Webb victory!
Gardner-Webb quarterback Bailey Fisher went 27-for-37 passing for 403 yards. However, Fisher's performance could not offset nor overcome the offense's four turnovers, which resulted in five points of turnover luck for the Chanticleers.
Gardner-Webb was a 33-point underdog and +1600 on the moneyline entering Saturday's game.
The big takeaway here? Coastal Carolina’s defense may be vulnerable: Not only is last week's performance concerning, but moreover Army also delivered a strong game against Coastal Carolina in Week 1.
Judging by most metrics, Texas Tech vs. Houston was a very close game — and the team that played better did win. But that’s not why this game is on the list.
The Texas Tech-Houston game total was 62 points. Yet, neither offense was particularly successful: Houston had a 22nd-percentile success rate and 14th-percentile EPA per play. Texas Tech faired slightly better with a 40th -percentile success rate and 27th-percentile EPA per play.
With a tough offensive day like this, this game should not have threatened hitting 63 points. However, with both teams playing this closely, we found ourselves in an overtime situation.
After struggling on offense for most of the day and accumulating a combined total of 40 points heading into overtime, the offenses finally started scoring. Both teams scored a touchdown in the opening frame, followed by a Houston field goal and a Texas Tech game-winning touchdown, bringing the total to 63 points.
If you had the under, you were looking good until the very last play of the game. While it was probably the right side, this double-overtime thriller made the under one of the worst beats of the week.
One of the biggest upsets of the week actually may be one of the most misleading as well.
Appalachian State achieved a 14th-percentile success rate compared to Texas A&M’s 28th-percentile mark. The Mountaineers' yards per play ranked in the 4th percentile; yet again, Texas A&M exceeded this mark by achieving a yards per play stat in the 21st percentile.
It was two lost fumbles and a missed field goal that did the Aggies in, however. Based on postgame win expectancy, App State had a 22.6% chance of winning this game — with an expected margin of Texas A&M -6.3.
Neither offense played well, but if the betting market reacts too sharply to either team following this game, you may want to consider either fading App State or backing Texas A&M in a future week.
The result of this game isn’t exactly misleading, but it had every chance to be.
Duke jumped out to a 21-0 point lead early in the second quarter before Northwestern rallied back to make it 21-10 at the half. The Blue Devils threatened to extend their lead in the third quarter before this happened:
Northwestern Interception pic.twitter.com/2zF0pKlw1M
— Mr Matthew CFB 📸 (@Baseball8264802) September 10, 2022
Duke was the better team for most of this game. The Blue Devils ranked in the 68th percentile in success rate, 93rd in EPA per play and 74th in yards per play. Contrast Duke's percentile marks with Northwestern's rankings of 49th, 54th and 47th, respectively.
Based on post-game win expectancy, this wasn’t even close: Duke would have been expected to win 98.5% of the time by a margin of 18.2 points.
The Blue Devils almost didn’t win, though. This play at the very end of the game would have given Northwestern a chance to tie, and the over would have hit.
However, both bids fell short as Wildcats running back Evan Hull fumbled before crossing the goal-line. Duke was able to recover the fumble with 12 seconds left and seal the victory.
The Northwestern Fumble as he was going into the end zone. Heartbreaking. What a play by DUKE! pic.twitter.com/Rum6rVr14r
— Sickos Committee (@SickosCommittee) September 10, 2022
Had Northwestern scored , this easily would have been the most misleading final score of the weekend.
Duke played well and thoroughly dominated this matchup. Both teams play FCS opponents in Week 3, but after seeing Northwestern struggle against Duke and witnessing the Wildcats barely beat Nebraska, you may want to be concerned about the Wildcats going forward.