College Football Rivalry Week Analytics Betting Preview: Success Rate, Havoc & More (Saturday, Nov. 26)

College Football Rivalry Week Analytics Betting Preview: Success Rate, Havoc & More (Saturday, Nov. 26) article feature image

George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice.

We managed to stop the bleeding last week with an easy win on the Iowa-Minnesota under, bringing the record of this article up to 7-3-1 on the season.

We have one more regular season week to go, so no matter what, this article will have had a great year. However, 8-3-1 sounds a hell of a lot better than 7-4-1 so let's finish strong.

This week is highlighted by The Game, as No. 3 Michigan travels to Columbus to take on No. 2 Ohio State. However, there are plenty of other fun matchups to watch, starting on Black Friday.

  • No. 19 Tulane at No. 24 Cincinnati
  • NC State at No. 17 North Carolina
  • No. 9 Oregon at No. 21 Oregon State
  • No. 15 Notre Dame at No. 6 USC

While none of these games outside of Notre Dame-USC have any real College Football Playoff implications, it should be an electric weekend for football.

This breakdown looks at three metrics that have proven to be relevant to covering the spread:

  1. Havoc
  2. Success Rate
  3. Finishing Drives

If you're interested in why these metrics have been chosen, check out this piece by Collin Wilson. To quote his findings:

“Data from the past five years indicates defensive Success Rate, Havoc and Finishing Drives are the biggest indicators in beating oddsmakers this college football season.”

Let’s dive in and see where we can find an edge in Week 13.

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What is Havoc?

Havoc is a college football term defined as a play where there’s an unexpected outcome.Pass breakups, forced fumbles and tackles for loss are just a few of the plays that cause chaos on any given Saturday. Collectively, these plays are used to build an identity for a team.

The calculation for Havoc is simply a cumulative number of tackles for loss, interceptions, fumbles and passes defensed divided by the number of plays on both sides of the ball.

Let's see where we can find some big Havoc discrepancies for Rivalry Week

Home Team Havoc Allowed vs. Away Team Havoc Rate

Top 3 Havoc Mismatches (Home Offense vs. Away Defense)

  1. Kansas State Wildcats Offense vs. Kansas Jayhawks Defense
  2. Utah Utes Defense vs. Colorado Buffaloes Offense
  3. USC Trojans Defense vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Offense

Away Team Havoc Allowed vs. Home Team Havoc Rate

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Success Rate

What is Success Rate?

Success Rate is an advanced metric in football that measures efficiency, but with the important context of down and distance considered.

A play is defined as successful if:

  • It gains at least 50% of the yards required to move the chains on first down
  • 70% of yards to gain on second down
  • 100% of yards to gain on third or fourth down

To calculate Success Rate, simply divide the number of successful plays (as defined by down and distance above) by total plays.

This definition is taken from our article on Success Rate.

Home Team Offensive Success Rate vs. Away Team Defensive Success Rate

Top 3 Success Rate Mismatches (Home Offense vs. Away Defense)

  1. Illinois Fighting Illini Defense vs. Northwestern Wildcats Offense
  2. Toledo Rockets Defense vs. Western Michigan Broncos Offense
  3. Purdue Boilermakers Defense vs. Indiana Hoosiers Offense

Away Team Offensive Success Rate vs. Home Team Defensive Success Rate

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Finishing Drives

What is Finishing Drives?

Finishing Drives is calculated as points per opportunity when the offense passes the opponent’s 40-yard line.

Defensively, this is how many points per opportunity a defense allows when the opposing offense crosses the 40-yard line.

Home Team Offensive Finishing Drives vs. Away Team Defensive Finishing Drives

Top 3 Finishing Drives Mismatches (Home Offense vs. Away Defense)

  1. SMU Mustangs Offense vs. Memphis Tigers Defense
  2. Illinois Fighting Illini Defense vs. Northwestern Wildcats Offense
  3. Houston Cougars Offense vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane Defense

Away Team Offensive Finishing Drives vs. Home Team Defensive Finishing Drives

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College Football Rivalry Week Betting Takeaways

With one game left, I am forgoing all of the flashy games for one that has been one of my favorites for the last five or so years: Memphis vs. SMU.

This game has been wildly entertaining in four of the last five years, and I think this year will be no different given the frantic pace the Mustangs play at, as they rank second in seconds per play.

SMU pops up twice in our charts — once for Havoc and once for Success Rate. In addition to these general mismatches, there's one facet of the game where the Mustangs have a clear advantage: the passing game.

I expect SMU to chuck the ball all over the field and the Tigers to have no answer for it.

This SMU defense has been an absolute sieve this season, but Memphis' offense has been mediocre. The Mustangs can rack up enough stops to win comfortably.

Give me the team that pushes the pace and moves the ball through the air effectively with a matchup against a terrible pass defense.

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