Over the past two weeks, I’ve been tossing around an idea: what does scoring efficiency look like for every college football team, and does that also correlate to victories? Admittedly, it’s not overly complicated, but nonetheless, certainly took a good deal of number crunching (aka, simple math) to come up with some figures. Additionally, while putting this all together, I thought it would be interesting to see if teams that ran or passed the ball more saw a higher scoring efficiency rate, higher win total or both.
You can feel free to peruse the full data set for all 124 FBS schools here (color-coded for conference affiliation) in this handy Google doc. Included are the total offensive plays run during the 2012 season, total points scored, the efficiency rating (we’ll discuss below), run percentage, pass percentage and total victories.
The crux of this exercise is the scoring efficiency metric, which is actually a pretty simple points-scored-per-play figure. Basically, we’re assuming that efficiency is scoring more points in less plays, while inefficiency is scoring less points in more plays. With that definition in mind, the top 10 most efficient scoring offenses were as follows:
Not a whole lot of surprise here. Some of the nation’s most highly regarded offenses (Oregon, Texas A&M, Baylor, Louisiana Tech) are all present, though admittedly, I’m a bit surprised to see Florida State and Georgia. While I wouldn’t exactly call Alabama an offensive machine, the have a knack for brutal efficiency in every aspect of the game, so it should not come as a shock to see them listed right under the Ducks’ attack, despite running 150 less plays in one more game than Oregon. Also of note, every one of these teams tallied at least eight wins last season, and six had 11 or more. In fact, when looking at the full, sorted efficiency list, the first 25 schools all had at least seven wins on the season, with the first losing team being no. 26, Tennessee (AIR IT OUT, TYLER BRAY!)
And what about the least efficient scoring teams in the country? Your bottom 10:
The fact that UMass sits atop this list should be a given. It was a rough first year at the FBS level for the Minutemen, who figure to be near the bottom of this list again in 2013. Of the other teams here, just three — Connecticut, Wake Forest and Michigan State — had more than two wins on the season, and only one of those (MSU) actually had a winning year.
But does this mean scoring efficiency relates directly to wins? Well, not so much. Notre Dame won 12 games this past season and played in the National Championship Game, yet their inept offense ranked just 79th overall in scoring efficiency. Meanwhile, four-win Texas State finished 45th, ahead of high-scoring, successful teams such as Louisville, UCLA and East Carolina.
And since this is an ACC football blog, here’s how things shook out for the conference, listed in order of finish, with overall rank in parenthesis): Florida State (sixth), North Carolina (ninth), Clemson (18th), Georgia Tech (32nd), Miami (34th), Louisville (46th), Duke (59th), Pittsburgh (70th), Syracuse (75th), NC State (84th), Virginia Tech (87th), Maryland (102nd), Virginia (103rd), Boston College (112th), Wake Forest (117th).
The second part of all this had to do with running the ball vs. passing the ball. Did either have a correlation to scoring efficiency, and if not, did it at least have a tie to wins? In total, just 19 teams ran the ball more often than they passed it, and of those nine won at least 10 games. Further, just two of those schools (Army, Kansas) even had losing records, though admittedly very few of these teams had a high scoring efficiency mark (though the top two teams in that category, Oregon and Alabama, are there). For the 19 teams that passed the ball most (by percentage of plays), all did so at a clip of 68-percent or higher, and not one was among the 25 most efficient scoring offenses. In terms of wins, just two teams (San Jose State, Louisville) registered double-digit victories and 13 finished with less than six wins.
And what of balanced offenses? Just four teams in the nation had either a 51/49 split run-to-pass or vice versa. Of those, the two that ran the ball 51 percent of the time (Alabama and Northern Illinois) won 25 games between the two of them. The other two, Eastern Michigan and Auburn, won a total of five. Nothing significant about the stat, just an entertaining coincidence.
So was there any correlation between scoring efficiency and success in terms of wins and losses? No. And the same goes for run-heavy and pass-heavy offenses, and their abilities to score efficiently. Seems that all of these things happen independently of each other, much to my chagrin. But still, a fun exercise to go through. And again, if you want to see the full set of data put together for this post, head on over to the Google doc.