What point differential tells us
After the game I said that winning ugly games by 20 points is a good indicator. While margin of victory and point differential over the course of a season are not foolproof, in general, they are a good indicators of how good a team is and how lucky or unlucky it has been.
Take our three most recent 3-0 starts (two under TOB and one under Jags) and compare the fourth game.
W – BC 19, Ball State 11
W – BC 21, Penn State 7
W – BC 27, CT 7
Point differential through three games: 42
L – BC 14, Wake Forest 17
BC lost on a “fluke play” (we’ll get back to that concept) to a game, but still inferior Wake Forest.
W – BC 31, Central Michigan 24
W – BC 34, Clemson 33
W – BC 30, BYU 23
Point differential through three games: 15
L – BC 15, NC State 17
BC lost on a “fluke play” to an inferior NC State team.
W – BC 38, Wake Forest 28
W – BC 37, NC State 17
W – BC 24, Georgia Tech 10
Point differential through three games: 44
W – BC 37, Army 17
BC wins against an inferior opponent by a comfortable margin despite uneven play.
As you can see not all starts are equal and point differential is not perfect. 2004 and 2007 had a very similar differentials through three games yet very different results in game four. In 2004 we lost to Wake on a late bomb. BC had dominated but couldn’t convert in the redzone and had three missed field goals. It truly was a “fluke” play and BC was unlucky. Contrast that with 2006. BC escaped Central Michigan, and won two games that where they were generally outplayed (Clemson and BYU). Then NC State happened. While it seemed unlucky at the time, it was probably more of a case of BC’s luck running out. The common trait in both 2004 and 2006 losses was that BC did not play its best game in the losses…which brings us to this season. Army was clearly the worst performance of the season, yet the team won by 20. Talent explains part of it, but the other part is aggressiveness and style of play. Even when misfiring, Logan is relentless and doesn’t eat clock. Increasing number of possessions when you have the talent advantage should produce winning football. Contrast that with TOB’s clock eating mentality. While TOB’s close to the vest, conservative style might steal a game or two, it also invites games to be stolen by inferior opponents on “fluke plays.” And playing TOB’s way in college football, where there is no postseason tourney and there is a premium on minimizing losses is limiting to a teams championship aspirations. In college football you have to be perfect every week. You must play to win and winning big helps.
Now Jags aggressive stance guarantees nothing. It can all come to a halt at any minute or be undone by one off day, but the style of play and the results are important in college football. Winning ugly yet still winning by 20 indicates that we should have a very strong season and Jags' aggressiveness is about winning championships.