College Football Pace Report: Projecting Week 11 Totals Using Advanced Metrics
Darryl Oumi/Getty Images. Pictured: Miles Reed (26).
The ability to sustain drives and produce a high number in finishing drives continues to be a determining factor in totals.
The new Joe Moorhead offense at Oregon started with a punt and two turnovers in the first four drives of the game. A halftime score of 14-7 looked optimistic for an under. The Ducks proceeded to score four touchdowns in the final five drives of the game to push the closing total.
Nebraska has gone under the total in both of its games thanks in part to a Finishing Drives number of less than two points per possession on drives inside the opponent’s 40-yard line. In nine trips to the red zone, the Cornhuskers have just three touchdowns and three field goals.
My bankroll was a bit emptier this weekend after taking an under in the Kansas-Oklahoma game. The Jayhawks have yet to hit a full total under the number this season, as opponents have scored in 37 of 38 trips to the red zone.
The Week 10 Pace Report continued to track totals that steamed more than two points lower in the closing number versus the opener. That trend continued with the MAC and Pac-12 beginning competition: Over bettors are winning at a 67% clip since the beginning of SEC play on Sept. 26.
This Pace Report utilizes a number of variables to come up with a projection for each game (all of which are included in Action PRO).
Oddsmakers in New Jersey and Las Vegas have an assigned point value for each team, and that number is adjusted based on ensuing game results. I go a bit further by applying some math and advanced stats to my projections.
The formula first takes into account yards per play for offense and defense. Plays per game are also integrated to the yards per play difference to come up with a total. The formula is incomplete without a sign of what teams do in scoring opportunities. Finishing drives and pace must be accounted for in totals.
Whether or not a team is fantastic within the 40-yard line for scoring opportunities, pace of play must be considered. Seconds per play can give investors an inside track into which teams have more snaps per game, and — in combination with Success Rate and Finishing Drives — it can develop facts around scoring points.
Our Pace by Success Rate chart looks at Seconds Per Play along with Success Rate, (defined as gaining 50% of needed yards on first down, 70% of needed yards on second down or 100% of needed yards on third or fourth down).
Week 11 Projected Totals
Notes on Week 11 Totals
Florida Atlantic vs. Florida International
Jim Leavitt has had his share of turning college football teams around. South Florida ranked second in the BCS standings behind Ohio State in 2007, while Colorado was the comeback program of the year in 2015. That same influence is now at Florida Atlantic, where the Owls rank top-25 in tackling, sack rate and finishing drives.
Both the Owls and Florida International rank outside the top 100 in offensive pass explosiveness, while each defense fields a rank in the top 30 in defensive pass expected points. Florida International comes in on three weeks rest after managing just 10 points against Jacksonville State.
Southern Miss vs. Western Kentucky
The Eagles are on their second interim coach of the season, as Scotty Walden left for Austin Peay on Oct. 27th. Since then, Southern Mississippi has lit up the scoreboard with six points against Rice and 24 vs. North Alabama. The advanced box score against North Alabama shows the Eagles were stuffed on 37% of their rush attempts, produced three turnovers and generated no passes over 20 yards. Without quarterbacks Jack Abraham and Tate Whatley, Southern Miss needed a heroic comeback after trailing at halftime.
Western Kentucky is 28th in tackling and 19th in coverage according to Pro Football Focus grades after Week 11. The Hilltoppers are 101st in offensive finishing drives with a pace that ranks 93rd. With a slow pace and no explosiveness, this game sets up as a classic rock fight.
Hawaii vs. San Diego State
San Diego State hit a snag in the Mountain West by running into the San Jose State defense in Week 10. The Spartans shut out Air Force on the ground in their opening game and now rank fifth in tackling and eighth in defensive finishing drives. The review of San Jose State is important as it applies to the San Diego State offense. The Aztecs scored 72 points in their first two games and may have an avenue to put up more against the Rainbow Warriors.
Hawaii’s defense is nothing to write home about, ranking 119th in tackling and 109th in rushing success rate. That last number is important, because San Diego State has a 64% rush rate with an expected points rank in the top 30. Considering that Hawaii’s new GoGo offense ranks 20th in the nation in pace, there should be plenty of possessions on Saturday afternoon.