College Football Misleading Box Scores: Unexpected Results from Ole Miss vs. Kentucky, LSU vs. Auburn & More Week 5 Games

College Football Misleading Box Scores: Unexpected Results from Ole Miss vs. Kentucky, LSU vs. Auburn & More Week 5 Games article feature image

Michael Chang/Getty Images. Pictured: Auburn quarterback Jaylin Simpson.

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 5 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.

This is going to be my fifth article in this series this year. I have gone back to look at the numbers, and if you have bet on the team that ended up on the unlucky side as covered in my articles the next week, you would be 9-3-1 so far this season.

I’m not saying to bet all of these teams blindly for Week 6, but these misleading box scores can lead to opportunity in the market.

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Rice 28, UAB 24

Rice had a great comeback from a 17-7 halftime deficit to win this game by four in the Conference USA opener. However, looking at the underlying metrics, UAB outplayed it and should have been the victors (and also should have potentially covered).

This played out like an 11.5-point UAB win, according to Bill Connelly’s adjusted score. Rice had a post-game win expectancy of just 8.1% by Connelly’s figures.

The Blazers posted an Offensive Success Rate in the 80th percentile compared to a 62nd percentile output for Rice. The Blazers also outgained the Owls by a mark of 6.41 yards per play to just 3.90. 

UAB quarterback Dylan Hopkins was much more effective through the air than Rice QB TJ McMahon as well. UAB had a yards-per-dropback mark in the 82nd percentile and 70th percentile EPA per dropback compared to 24th and 26th percentile numbers for Rice, respectively.

One other factor that greatly assisted the Owls was that Rice benefited from 6.4 points gained from turnover luck, according to Game on Paper, as the Blazers had two turnovers compared to Rice’s one.

I previewed this game last week and had UAB -10.5, so the expected margin of 11.5 points in UAB’s favor may slightly influence the way I feel about this outcome. However, UAB did play better in this game even though it's not reflected in the final score.

Next week, UAB plays Middle Tennessee in Birmingham. There are both 9s and 9.5s on the market right now, but I would grab UAB -9 right now before this line potentially moves to 10.

Ole Miss 22, Kentucky 19

The reason that this game appears on the list is the crazy fourth quarter that it took for Ole Miss to leave with a win.

After the Rebels took a 22-19 lead with 2:19 left in the third quarter, the Wildcats had plenty of opportunities to win — or at least score again — and just couldn’t.

Unfortunately for them, their last three drives of the game ended with a turnover on downs and two fumbles lost. To make matters worse, these three turnovers came on the Ole Miss 32-, 19-, and 12-yard lines. On these three drives, the Rebels gained 181 total yards and came back with zero points to show for it.

Kentucky had an 82nd percentile Offensive Success Rate in this game compared to one in the 44th percentile for Ole Miss. The Wildcats were hurt by -11.1 points of turnover luck in this game, which made all of the difference.

Kentucky has been undervalued by the market all season long, as they're 4-1 against the spread. UK is 10.5-point favorites against South Carolina this weekend in Lexington. I’ll be taking the Cats to cover this one at home.

LSU 21, Auburn 17

This one gets an honorable mention. I want to apologize to Auburn for saying it appeared to have given up on the season after it should've lost to Missouri last weekend. 

This week, it found itself on the wrong side of this variance, losing a game in which it outplayed LSU. The Bayou Bengals had a post-game win expectancy of 7.6%, and the adjusted margin on this game would have expected an 11.8-point Auburn win.

It didn’t help LSU that starting quarterback Jayden Daniels got injured in this game, but Auburn’s offense was the real reason it shined.

It seems like Auburn has found something in quarterback Robby Ashford. He went off for 337 yards on 19-of-38 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. Auburn outgained LSU by 3.71 yards per play (7.11-3.40).

I expected much more out of LSU’s offense this week and instead was surprised by an Auburn offense I didn’t see coming.

Air Force 13, Navy 10

The story of this game was Air Force’s efficiency in the passing game. The Falcons don’t pass often, but they're highly effective when they do.

Air Force quarterback Haaziq Daniels went 6-of-8 for 156 yards against Navy, averaging 15.6 yards per dropback (99th percentile) and 0.47 EPA per dropback (87th percentile).

The Falcons outgained the Midshipmen from a yards-per-play standpoint, 6.7-4.89, and posted a 57th percentile Success Rate compared to just the 19th percentile for Navy. The Midshipmen, meanwhile, benefited from 7.5 points of turnover luck.

Air Force was favored in this game by 14 points, but the adjusted margin for this game was 17.2 points. If you were on Air Force this weekend, chances are you were on the right side and it just didn’t work out.

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