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College Football Week 9 Analytics Betting Preview: Success Rate, Havoc & More (Saturday, Oct. 29)

College Football Week 9 Analytics Betting Preview: Success Rate, Havoc & More (Saturday, Oct. 29) article feature image
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Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: A Georgia Bulldogs flag.

It finally happened. We took a loss last weekend. ECU’s offense proved to be too potent for UCF to handle, and the Pirates rolled to an easy 21-point victory over the Knights. They scored 34, beating their team total by 4.5 points.

This week is no slouch when it comes to matchup quality. We have three top-25 matchups:

  • No. 19 Kentucky at No. 3 Tennessee (with a potential first-round QB battle)
  • No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 22 Kansas State
  • No. 2 Ohio State at No. 13 Penn State

In addition, we have a game with two of the most confusing SEC teams. Missouri — which could easily be 5-2 with wins over Auburn and Georgia — will take on a red-hot South Carolina squad coming off of wins over Texas A&M and Kentucky.

That one is sure to be weird and could be a pivotal game for Eli Drinkwitz’s tenure at Missouri. Without further ado, let’s get into the article.

This breakdown looks at three metrics that have been found 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 9.

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Havoc

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 in Week 9:


Home Team Havoc Allowed vs. Away Team Havoc Rate

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

  1. Miami (OH) RedHawks Defense vs. Akron Zips Offense
  2. Georgia Bulldogs Offense vs. Florida Gators Defense
  3. Miami Hurricanes Defense vs. Virginia Cavaliers Offense

Away Team Havoc Allowed vs. Home Team Havoc Rate

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

  1. USC Trojans Offense vs. Arizona Wildcats Defense
  2. TCU Horned Frogs Offense vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Defense
  3. Oregon Ducks Offense vs. Cal Golden Bears Defense

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. Georgia Bulldogs Offense vs. Florida Gators Defense
  2. Miami Hurricanes Defense vs. Virginia Cavaliers Offense
  3. Arizona Wildcats Offense vs. USC Trojans Defense

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

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

  1. Boise State Broncos Defense vs. Colorado State Rams Offense
  2. USC Trojans Offense vs. Arizona Wildcats Defense
  3. Oregon Ducks Offense vs. Cal Golden Bears Defense

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. Old Dominion Monarchs Defense vs. Georgia State Panthers Offense
  2. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Defense vs. Southern Miss Eagles Offense
  3. Miami (OH) RedHawks Defense vs. Akron Zips Offense

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

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

  1. Toledo Rockets Offense vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles Defense
  2. USC Trojans Offense vs. Arizona Wildcats Defense
  3. NC State Wolfpack Defense vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Offense

College Football Week 9 Betting Takeaways

To quote myself from Week 7:

“This is one of the most one-sided offensive vs. defensive matchups I’ve ever seen. And to be honest, it almost seems a little too good to be true.”

We’re going back to this well this week, and we’re going to back an offense that appears in each of these charts and enters as a top-three mismatch in two of them.

That’s right — we’re going with the Georgia Bulldogs’ team total.

Look at that spider chart. Yes, Georgia plays at a slow pace, but it’s wildly efficient and successful. It also scores touchdowns when if finds itself in scoring opportunities and doesn’t settle for field goals.

Meanwhile, Florida plays relatively fast, which should allow the Bulldogs to force quick three-and-outs for the Gators and get the ball back relatively quickly after scoring.

Look for the Bulldogs to roll in Jacksonville.

Pick: Georgia Team Total Over 39.5 (-120) ⋅ Bet to Over 41.5 (-120)

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