Wilson: Measuring CFB’s Disruptive Defenses and 2 Bets on Those Teams in Week 4

Wilson: Measuring CFB’s Disruptive Defenses and 2 Bets on Those Teams in Week 4 article feature image

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ole Miss defense

  • Collin Wilson loves defenses that cause chaos, because they can create betting volatility.
  • Based on Football Outsiders' original measures, he quantifies the most and least disruptive defenses in the country.
  • He also outlines two of his favorite bets for Week 4 based on these statistics.

This week, Notre Dame will look for revenge from 2017 against Georgia.

That early-season game served as a springboard for the Bulldogs to become national title contenders.

And it all started with the defense and star linebacker Roquan Smith, who had 5 solo tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in the 1-point victory over the Irish. The Bulldogs clinched the game with a strip sack, as well.

That right there is what we call Havoc — the plays by each defense that result in a tackle for loss, forced fumble or pass defended. It can take a defense from good to great.

Turnovers can be random, but the more fumbles you’re forcing and more passes you’re defending, the more you’ll recover.

And havoc rate matters not just with players, but as a team.

The 2017 Wisconsin Badgers that went 13-1 ranked No. 2 in the nation in Havoc, and the 2018 Badgers defense dropped off in general, buoyed by a Havoc rating of 57th.

My handicapping starts with the Action Network power ratings, but the Havoc statistic will be used to gauge which teams can cause volatility and lead to betting value. Certain coordinators and coaches are better at creating Havoc, which makes Michigan’s rank through three weeks so surprising.

This article will look at current Havoc rates for the season, plus a look at any matchups in Week 4 where a large discrepancy can be found.

College Football Week 4 Havoc Rankings

PD is passes defensed, FF is Forces Fumbles, and TFL representing Tackles for Loss. Havoc Rate is calculated per Five Factors definition.

Utah State at San Diego State (+4)

All odds above as of Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

With their most notable victory coming against UCLA, the Aztecs have been complete chaos on the defensive side of the ball.

San Diego State generated double digit tackles for loss, five passes defensed and three sacks.

Strip. Sack.

Aztec ball. pic.twitter.com/W920PnJ5uc

— SDSU Football (@SDSUFootball) September 7, 2019

The 3-3-5 scheme has terrorized offenses in Rocky Long’s tenure.

Utah State did not fare well in its last two matchups with the Aztecs, losing by 27 or more points during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. This may be a defensive look quarterback Jordan Love has issues with from the start.

Pick: San Diego State +4

Cal at Ole Miss (-2)

The defense for Cal has gotten all the attention in victories over Washington and North Texas. A havoc rate of 19.1% is respectable, as the Bears boast one of the best defenses in the Pac-12 conference.

The real story has been no turnovers from quarterback Chase Garbers. That may change in an early kickoff game against Ole Miss.

For the attention the Cal defense has received, Ole Miss has a better havoc rate than the Bears. The Rebels rank 10th in the nation with 18 passed defensed (pass breakups plus interceptions) and four forced fumbles.

Defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre was the former head coach at Colorado, where the Buffs ranked No. 1 in defensive back havoc in 2016.

With two defenses that are excelling this early in the season, look for both Garbers and Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral to come out of the gate slow. The Jefferson Pilot 11 a.m. CT slot should benefit a slow start for Ole Miss hosting a west coast team.

Pick: Under 21 (1H)


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