clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Adjusted Stats Project The Utah State-Tennessee and Wisconsin-LSU Games

A weekly look at how the adjust states project upcoming SEC match-ups. LSU and Tennessee are in for tough games, according to these systems.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

This season we are going to be using F/+ ratings to preview select SEC games. The first few weeks will be slightly different from the rest of the season as zero games played means only projected ratings. Until the 2014 F/+ rankings are published (should only be a few weeks) our focus will be on the projected and non-combined S&P+ and FEI ratings, along with FEI Game Projections.

For the uninitiated:

S&P+ was created by Bill Connelly. Connelly is an author at SBNation, RockMNation, Football Study Hall and Football Outsiders. S&P+ is an advanced statistical measure which combines success rate, explosiveness per play and opponent adjustments.

FEI is the Fremeau Efficiency Index, created by Brian Fremeau. Fremeau is an author at Football Outsiders, ESPN and BCFToys. FEI is an advanced statistical measure for college football that tracks drive efficiency instead of per-play success.

The combination of these two ranking systems provides the F/+ ranking.

This is how Fremeau and Connelly describe their ratings:

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 that might be helpful.

Tennessee Versus Utah State

Preseason S&P+ and FEI Outlook


Tennessee Versus Utah State


Utah State


S&P+ Rk (Overall)

49 (204.4)

55 (203.2)

S&P+ Rk (Offense)

100 (84.5)

64 (95.7)

S&P+ Rk (Defense)

16 (119.9)

41 (107.5)

FEI Rk (Overall)

62 (-.004)

75 (-.040)

FEI Game Projection

53.6% PWE (Utah St. 14 - UT 13)



According to S&P+ and FEI, Utah State is poised to pull an upset in Knoxville on Sunday. Utah State's advantage likely comes from its highly rated defense which S&P+ currently ranks at 16th. Tennessee's offense is a respectable 64th, but a revamped offensive line, youth at the skill positions, and potentially shaky quarterback play could prevent major points from being scored against a tough defense that returns key players from the defensive line and linebacker corps. Although, the secondary lost 7 starters and key back-ups in the secondary. Did you hear that Marquez North?

Utah State's offense (100th) likely won't be able to score many points against UT's defense (41st). Quarterback Chuckie Keeton is a lot of fun to watch, and returns as a two year starter despite being injured last season. Yet, on paper, he appears to be Utah State's only reliable weapon. Utah State lost its two leading rushers and two of its three leading receivers. Oh, and Utah State lost four of its starters along the offensive line.

Utah State has played top out-of-conference competition on the road the last few seasons, and it's a legitimate question if its players will even be adversely affected playing in Neyland Stadium. It will also be a challenge for UT to successfully run the ball against Utah St.'s front seven, making it even more important for Worley to play well in order to move the chains.

At the same time, Butch Jones has had months to study Utah State's defense in the hopes of finding weaknesses. UT's talented, albeit young, receivers will probably have opportunities to make explosive plays against a rebuilding secondary. Meanwhile, Jones' defense in all likelihood will contain Utah State's offense. Keeton is good, but not good enough to win this game alone. Utah State will probably require turnovers and advantageous field position to score points.

LSU Versus Wisconsin

Preseason S&P+ and FEI Outlook


LSU Versus Wisconsin




S&P+ Rk (Overall)

12 (233.4)

15 (231.4)

S&P+ Rk (Offense)

11 (116.9)

20 (111.8)

S&P+ Rk (Defense)

21 (116.5)

18 (119.6)

FEI Rk (Overall)

7 (.212)

21 (.142)

FEI Game Projection

69.5% PWE (LSU 24 - Wisconsin 20)



According to the ratings, LSU may just squeak out a close one in Houston Saturday night in what feels like a first round BCS playoff game. Both of these teams boast top twenty offenses and defenses, though FEI appears to not possess the same level of enthusiasm for Wisconsin as S&P+ does given its methodology. This game will be a physical match-up between two teams that mirror each other in several ways.

There will be blood.

Wisconsin's quarterback, Tanner McEvoy, will be making his first start after playing safety last season. McEvoy won the starting job by beating out last season's starting quarterback Joel Stave, but he won't get an opportunity for a warm-up game. McEvoy will be helped out by arguably the B1G's best running back Melvin Gordon and an experienced offensive line, but loses all of his experienced receivers.

LSU's front seven will look to bounce back from a sub-par (for LSU) 2013 season and is susceptible to being run on by Wisconsin. Yet, if Wisconsin can't mount a passing threat—which will be difficult against LSU's secondary given Wisconsin's inexperience—LSU may end up rolling as many defenders as possible into the box to counter the running game.

Wisconsin's defense is given the edge in S&P+ and will likewise face an offense looking to pound the ball with a stable of physical running backs behind and a strong offensive line. A potential problem for Wisconsin is that it's front seven has been decimated by graduation. The back-ups did see game action last year, are arguably more talented, and will be coached by excellent defensive minds...and yet, they are relatively inexperienced and competing against a borderline top ten S&P+ offense. Luckily, Wisconsin's secondary is experienced and probably holds serve against LSU's inexperienced, but talented, receiving corps.

Wisconsin and LSU may follow similar game plans and load the box, and force an inexperienced quarterback (or "quarterbacks" in LSU's case), and his inexperienced receivers to beat their proven secondary. The ice baths and training tables will be all be occupied on Sunday and Monday, I imagine.