In recent years, I maintained statistical profiles for each college football team at Football Study Hall. It was a data dump that I, and I think others, found pretty useful. They are up and running for 2018, but in a different format. This time around, I’m maintaining them within a Google document for better toggling between teams. You can find them here.
One of the many goals of maintaining profiles in this way is the writing potential. it is a narrative machine.
For instance, what if we wanted to look at the biggest flaws for the country’s best teams?
Wouldn’t take long!
On Monday, I talked about how the best teams in FBS sure seem to have separated themselves. But if you’re looking for encouraging signs that an upset or two are possible, well, everyone’s got at least a few flaws.
1. Alabama is giving up pretty big big plays.
The Crimson Tide’s offense is terrifying at the moment, ranking first in efficiency, ninth in explosiveness, and third in overall Off. S&P+. That’s unfair.
But a younger-than-normal defense, with a totally rebuilt secondary, has suffered at least a few glitches. They are only 28th in rushing marginal efficiency, for instance (good, but mortal) and they are 63rd in marginal explosiveness — 83rd against the pass and 83rd on standard downs. Granted, you have to create a lot of big plays to keep up with this offense, but it’s technically possible.
2. Ohio State is giving up really big big plays.
The Buckeyes are also faring just fine with a new starting quarterback, ranking sixth in efficiency and second in Off. S&P+.
But their defense is a mere 24th in Def. S&P+, marred mostly by some spectacular glitches. They are currently 92nd in marginal explosiveness — 102nd against the run and 130th, dead last, on passing downs.
My explosiveness measures only look at the magnitude of a team’s successful plays, and opponents still aren’t generating a ton of those. But when they do, the dam bursts.
3. Georgia’s defense is awfully bend-don’t-breaky.
The Dawgs have allowed just 24 points in three games, so we probably shouldn’t overstate any issues.
Still, while they might prevent big plays as well as anyone in the country — which should make for an interesting matchup when they take on Drew Lock and the Missouri offense this weekend — teams have been able to move the ball incrementally so far. The Dawgs are 88th in success rate allowed, and opponents’ average third-down distance has been just 5.9 yards, the second-lowest (and, for defenses, second-worst) in FBS.
They swarm to the ball well, but they don’t disrupt: they’re only 103rd in havoc rate. A patient offense could do some damage.
4. Clemson still has a passing-downs problem.
The Tigers still have an all-world defensive line, the run game is more efficient than it was last year, and the passing game is more explosive.
But last year’s problem is this year’s problem. In 2017, they ranked 60th in passing-downs efficiency; this year: 88th. Granted, they’re second in passing-downs explosiveness, which is new. Plus, freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence is more explosive and less sack-prone than incumbent Kelly Bryant. Clemson’s PD efficiency could improve as he sees more of the field.
Still, for now, if you can leverage them behind schedule, you can get your defense off the field pretty quickly.
If we’re including Oklahoma as part of this elite group — the Sooners are only ninth in S&P+ now but are still top-five in the polls — then, well …
… watching the Iowa State game probably told you what you need to know about their primary weakness: Oklahoma’s pass defense is still pretty putrid.
OU has shored up some issues up front and currently ranks a decent-but-improved 23rd in rushing efficiency.
Passing efficiency, however: 93rd. Completion rate allowed: 99th. Examples of horrid defensive back tackling on display on Saturday: seemingly countless.
Analysis by Bill Connelly, Sbnation