College Football Misleading Box Scores: Veritable Victors, Dubious Dominators & Bona Fide Busts from Week 14
Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Chase Garbers.
We’ve all lived through enough bad beats to understand that the final score does not always do the best job of reflecting each team’s performance.
This weekly column highlights matchups in which the advanced box score tells a different story than the game’s result, as well as interesting data points that stick out from certain games.
Sports bettors may want to keep this information in the back of their minds before placing next week’s college football wagers.
California 21, Oregon 17
This is the second straight week in which Oregon lost despite a significant postgame win expectancy. The Ducks’ was 92% for this game, per College Football Data.
Oregon was much more efficient on offense, posting a 50% Success Rate to Cal’s 36%. In terms of yards per play, Oregon blew the Bears out of the water with a 6.1-3.4 edge.
Once again, though, the Ducks had issues with coughing up the football. Oregon fumbled twice and has now lost seven fumbles in just five games. If it’s just a little bit better holding on to the football, Oregon is probably still undefeated.
Louisiana Tech 41, North Texas 31
Just like Oregon, North Texas found itself in this column multiple times in the past few weeks. This time, the Mean Green walked away with a 10-point loss despite a 70% postgame win expectancy.
North Texas had a pretty significant yards per play edge at 5.4-4.2. However, it was put in much tougher field positions than its opponent. Louisiana Tech’s average starting field position was only 54.6 yards from the end zone, while UNT’s was 67.3. It’s easier to overcome a negative yards per play differential when drives start an average of 13 yards closer to the end zone than the opponent.
How did Louisiana Tech receive such good field position? North Texas was 1-for-4 on fourth downs, and all three stops came in its own territory.
Texas Tech 16, Kansas 13
Sorry to say it, but Kansas isn’t turning a corner.
Texas Tech had several mishaps in opponent territory, which led to this final score making the game look much closer than it was. In total, the Red Raiders almost doubled up the Jayhawks in yardage at 410-214. In terms of yards per play, Texas Tech recorded 5.9 to Kansas’ 3.0.
However, teams have to turn those yards into points. Texas Tech crossed the Kansas 40-yard line nine times and averaged only 1.13 points per opportunity. At least Kansas finally covered a spread.
UCLA 25, Arizona State 18
Arizona State would have had a fine excuse for being rusty here after a long layoff, but the Sun Devils easily could have won this game. They were easily the more efficient team in terms of Success Rate, which sat at 56% compared to 47% for the Bruins. Arizona State’s 56% Success Rate was the eighth-highest in Week 14 among FBS games.
The Sun Devils also outgained UCLA by 79 yards. However, a -2 turnover differential combined with 11 penalties made UCLA leave with a win.
Puzzling Point Totals
Indiana 14, Wisconsin 6
Neither offense was incredible, but both teams should have been able to put more points on the board.
Wisconsin and Indiana both crossed each other’s 40-yard line five times apiece but were really inefficient in opponent territory. Wisconsin averaged only 1.2 points per drive past the 40, while Indiana was also bad, at a 2.8 average.
In total, there were 559 yards of offense in this game. That’s why it’s so important to finish drives when the opportunity is there.
NC State 23, Georgia Tech 13
Despite 809 yards of total offense, this game ended with a point total in the mid-30s. Just like Wisconsin and Indiana, both teams were terrible in opponent territory despite 14 total opportunities.
NC State crossed the Georgia Tech 40-yard line eight times, averaging only 2.88 points per opportunity. Georgia Tech was even less efficient, crossing NC State’s 40-yard line six times and averaging only 2.17 points per opportunity.
NC State’s margin of victory may have been a tad inflated as well, as Georgia Tech posted a higher Success Rate and more yards of total offense.
Georgia Southern 20, Florida Atlantic 3
Florida Atlantic has been an under machine, and this week was no different. In this game, the Owls racked up five trips past the Eagles’ 40-yard line. But they turned those opportunities into a total of three points for 0.6 points per opportunity.
For reference, there are only two teams in the nation averaging less than two points per opportunity this season. FAU had 0.6.
The Owls actually moved the ball just fine, averaging 5.6 yards per play. Despite the opportunities, Florida Atlantic still struggled to put points on the board.