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SEC Football: Georgia-Arkansas and Texas A&M-Alabama Preview

Adjusted stats preview two big SEC match-ups.

Joe Murphy

The odd SEC season continues this weekend with an interesting SEC East versus West matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs going on the road to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Georgia could cement its lead in the SEC East with a victory, while Arkansas looks to end a SEC losing streak that in all fairness has surpassed its expiration date. The Texas A&M Aggies are traveling to Bryant-Denny Stadium to take on an Alabama Crimson Tide squad still in the hunt for a BCS Playoff spot if it wins out.

Let's break down the F/+ numbers to see how these teams match up. F/+ rankings are comprised of the S&P+ ratings and the FEI ratings. This is how those ratings are described:

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) considers each of the nearly 20,000 possessions every season in major college football. All drives are filtered to eliminate first-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores. A scoring rate analysis of the remaining possessions then determines the baseline possession expectations against which each team is measured. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams -- win or lose; and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams.

The S&P+ Ratings are a college football ratings system derived from both play-by-play and drive data from all 800+ of a season's FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays). There are four key components to the S&P+

If interested, here is a glossary for additional use.

Lastly, the F/+ percentage ratings measure every team against a perfectly average team. So, if the F/+ rating of a team is 0 percent, that team is considered perfectly average by this rating system.

The F/+ and S&P+ View of Georgia-Arkansas

OVERALL

When UGA Has the ball...

When ARK has the ball...

Category

UGA

ARK

UGA Off.

ARK Def.

UGA Def.

ARK Off.

F/+ Rk (Overall)

9 (25.7%)

43 (9.8%)

F/+ Defense

43 (5.5%)

46 (5.5%)

F/+ Offense

7 (16.3%)

33 (7.4%)

F/+ Special Teams

11 (3.9%)

109 (-3.2%)

S&P+ Rk (Overall)

18 (231.7)

15 (232.2)

9 (122.2)

20 (113.9)

35 (109.5)

15 (118.7)

Rushing S&P+ Rk

6 (142)

14 (132.8)

71 (99.5)

3 (150.3)

Passing S&P+ Rk

13 (136.9)

25 (121.7)

50 (110.2)

50 (108.8)

The SEC East and West collide in two games this weekend, but arguably the two best teams are in this match-up.  The overall rankings show Georgia with an edge, built largely on the power of its offense and vastly superior special teams. Arkansas will have advantages in other areas, and that could keep the game close.

Arkansas still has one of the most efficient running games in the country, and Georgia's 71st ranked Rushing S&P+ will probably be hard-pressed to stop them despite holding Mizzou to 50 yards rushing last week. The game plan is probably simple: run the ball and keep Georgia's potent offense sidelined. If the drive doesn't end in points, but does manage to flip the field while burning clock and limiting possessions, that's still a small victory. Arkansas looks evenly matched against Georgia's secondary, and effective play-action game would go far.

Arkansas' defense has vastly improved this season under Robb Smith. It held 'Bama's 22nd ranked F/+ Offense to 14 points a week ago. This week's challenge for Coach Smith will be a bigger one even if Georgia goes without Todd Gurley. Last week Nick Chubb and Brendan Douglas combined for 200 yards against a Missouri defense rated 10th in F/+ Defense. Hutson Mason has had a solid season, and leading his team on the road won't be an issue for the experienced signal caller.

Both offenses have distinct advantages over the opposing defense, and both teams probably score somewhere between the high twenties and mid-thirties. The huge difference in special teams between the teams will probably have a role in the final outcome. Arkansas has played well enough this year that it is due a victory, but the 'Dawgs would make them earn it.

The F/+ and S&P+ View of Texas A&M-Alabama

OVERALL

When TAMU Has the ball...

When 'Bama has the ball...

Category

TAMU

'Bama

TAMU Off.

'Bama Def.

TAMU Def.

'Bama Off.

F/+ Rk (Overall)

36 (13.1%)

10 (25.4%)

F/+ Defense

59 (1%)

8 (17.6%)

F/+ Offense

20 (11%)

22 (11%)

F/+ Special Teams

47 (1.1%)

111 (-3.2%)

S&P+ Rk (Overall)

16 (232.6)

3 (258.6)

7 (124)

4 (133.5)

39 (108.6)

4 (125.2)

Rushing S&P+ Rk

10 (135.6)

1 (184.7)

22 (122)

37 (118.9)

Passing S&P+ Rk

16 (135.5)

12 (135.4)

48 (106)

3 (160.9)

Texas A&M is looking to get out of its death spiral and avoid its third loss in a row. Along with Arkansas, A&M's defensive improvement has been a welcoming development, and against Alabama they should have success stopping the run. Unfortunately, they look to be vulnerable to the Tide's aerial attack. Lane Kiffin's superior offensive mind, and Amari Cooper's vast compliment of abilities, should overpower A&M's secondary. The nearest comparison in Passing S&P+ Defense Alabama has faced is Florida 's 58th, and Alabama threw for 450 yards that day. I suspect A&M's secondary will play better, especially if they can capitalize on the fact that the Tide only throw to Cooper.

A&M's offense would probably never meet its match this season if it played outside of the SEC West, but yet again this week it's facing an elite defense. A&M's 10th ranked rushing attack should still get its yards, but probably won't come close to its typical production. A&M did still manage 455 yards last week against Ole Miss' defense (some of that was garbage time, to be fair), and if they can convert yardage into points they'll have a strong chance on the road this week. That's a tall task against Nick Saban's defense that is currently ranked 5th in Drive Rating.

Similar to the UGA-ARK game, there's a big special teams discrepancy in this match-up. This is not Bobby Williams' best unit in Tuscaloosa, but A&M's unit is not so elite that one could easily assume they take advantage. A&M should get its yardage, but it must get points out of its drives. Defensively, the Aggies have to step up their pass defense and prevent big plays. 'Bama is holding most of the cards in this one, according to these ratings, and the outcome will likely be determined by if they take care of business or not.