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Adjusted Stats Preview Arkansas-Texas Tech and South Carolina-Georgia Games

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A weekly look at how the adjusted stats project upcoming SEC match-ups.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Week Three brings several intriguing matchups for teams in the SEC. This Saturday the ultimate fate of the SEC East probably gets decided between South Carolina and Georgia. Meanwhile, Arkansas takes on Texas Tech with both teams possessing near equivalent F/+ rankings, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're even. Keep in mind these ratings are still taking into account decreasing levels of preseason data until Week Seven.

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% that team is considered perfectly average by this rating system.

South Carolina versus Georgia

Category

South Carolina

Georgia

F/+

18 (15.9%)

6 (21.2%)

S&P+ Rk (Offense)

6 (122.2)

10 (118.1)

S&P+ Rk (Defense)

58 (100.2)

23 (112.8)

FEI Rk (Overall)

0.185 (18)

0.251 (6)

FEI Game Projection

-

29-22 (Georgia)

According to S&P+ and FEI, this should be a close game regardless of their previous performances. The Bulldogs parlayed an impressive shellacking of Clemson into an utter domination of the bye week. Todd Gurley is at the top of the Heisman chase, and though it's early, the defense appears transformed. At this point, Georgia ranking 6th in F/+ seems about right. South Carolina bounced back from its opening week loss to a good Texas A&M team to beat an East Carolina team ranked 59th in F/+.

South Carolina's offense is ranked 6th in S&P+ Offense, which may seem high to some, but this team has also scored approximately 30 points and 437 yards per game. This has happened despite a dismal performance on third downs against A&M, and Mike Davis only averaging 12 carries a game. Encouragingly for the Gamecocks, after falling behind 13-7 early to ECU,  they closed ranks and scored on their final seven possessions. The Gamecock defense meanwhile created two turnovers against ECU, but still gave up 450 yards to a team with the 50th ranked S&P+ Offense. Georgia is ranked 10th by comparison.

Georgia boasts a stable of quality running backs in addition to the aforementioned Gurley, but a rash of injuries among the receivers has affected depth. South Carolina's best option will probably be to stack the box in the hopes of taking away the running game, and force Hutson Mason to beat them. Georgia has good kick returning abilities, and that should help with field position. UGA's 23rd ranked S&P+ Defense will be challenged by South Carolina's offense. UGA's defense allowed 4 yards per play to Clemson's offense, but Clemson is ranked 49th in S&P+ Offense to South Carolina's 6th.

The problem for South Carolina has been its track record of form tackling this season, and UGA sports the type of running backs who can turn a one yard loss into a 25 yard gain. A strategy to stack the box is sound, but preventing explosive plays may be too much to ask against a Heisman candidate, especially if young corners are on their own against Michael Bennett and Chris Conley out on the edge with a single safety over top. South Carolina's offense on the other hand faces a Georgia defense that is similarly ranked to the Texas A&M defense they scored 28 points against while maybe not even playing that well.

Arkansas versus Texas Tech

Category

Arkansas

Texas Tech

F/+

48 (3.8%)

45 (4.3%)

S&P+ Rk (Offense)

3 (128.8)

32 (109.3)

S&P+ Rk (Defense)

110 (81.1)

84 (91.6)

FEI Rk (Overall)

69 (-0.015)

47 (0.061)

FEI Game Projection

-

39-29 (Texas Tech)

Arkansas will travel to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech in a battle between two comparable teams in the F/+ rankings. Both teams have very different, but highly-rated, offenses that make-up for listless defenses. The question for Arkansas is will the offense that showed up against Auburn in the first half be on display, or the offense that took the field in the second half? That answer could go a long way to determining how well their defense has to play in an attempt to hold serve against The Fightin' Kliff Kingsburies.

Somewhat surprisingly, the S&P+ Offense has ranked Arkansas third in all the land. S&P+ does not include scoring against FCS opponents, so this ranking is derived from preseason data and the performance against Auburn. Against Auburn, Arkansas put up 330 total yards of offense in a balanced attack, but only 60 yards came in the second half after Auburn's defense had adjusted. Arkansas will probably look to control possession with a steady diet of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, followed by Brandon Allen play-action. Arkansas has the abilities to do this successfully against Texas Tech's defense which allowed 393 yards of total offense (277 yards rushing) against a UTEP offense ranked 98th in S&P+.

Texas Tech's ranking of 45th is partly a result of beating a woeful UTEP team by only four points despite managing over 500 yards of total offense.  Scoring points shouldn't be an issue for this offense helmed by Davis Webb, Bradley Marquez, Jakeem Grant, and DeAndre Washington. They'll face an Arkansas defense currently ranked 110th, and shouldn't have many issues scoring points. FEI likes Texas Tech much more than Arkansas, but this may be partially due to Arkansas meltdown in the second half against Auburn. The issue for Texas Tech will be stopping Arkansas' run game which they've yet to display an ability to do in two games.

Arkansas' running backs will probably get a lot carries Saturday and should largely be successful. If Arkansas can control possession that will also serve the purpose of their minimizing their defense's mismatch against Texas Tech's offense. Arkansas will have to surmount 8 or 9 defenders in the box for their strategy to prove fruitful. Retaining possession will only be an effective strategy as long as the score is close. Arkansas' defense will be severely challenged, and will need to create turnovers to erase would-be points off the scoreboard. On paper Arkansas' defense should be better against the pass with their experienced secondary and Trey Flowers. That theory will be challenged Saturday.