Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lucky or good?

Wake Forest and Boston College both enter Saturday’s game with only one loss. Both are only a few plays from being undefeated. Yet both got very lucky and could just as easily have lost three or four different games. So I tried to see who was more lucky so far through the statistical and the subjective.

Strength of Schedule

You can run up a good record by playing nobodies (*cough, Rutgers, cough*). Of the two schools, BC has played the tougher schedule. Our current Colley Strength of Schedule ranking is 46 (it took a hit after playing Buffalo). Wake’s is an embarrassing 114th (worse than Rutgers).

Point Differential

A one-point win counts as much as a 40-point win. Over the course of a season though, the big wins tend to prove a team’s worth, while too many one-point wins shows a certain amount of luck. Luck runs out. While each game is a statistically independent event, I would expect a team with a record better than their point differential to come crashing down to earth eventually. So far based purely on point differential Wake’s record is slightly better than it should with a mark of +65. BC heads into the game with the same record but a point differential of +100. For a frame of reference, here are some other teams, their record and current point differential. Rutgers, 8-0, +161. Florida, 7-1, +114. USC, 6-1, +88. Oklahoma, 6-2, +126.

“We’re lucky we won that game” wins

This is purely subjective, but something that needs to be addressed. I define “we’re lucky…” wins as anything that turned late on a somewhat fluky play and handed BC or Wake the victory. But my count, Wake has had three of these, while BC has had two.

-- Wake held off Duke with a last second blocked field goal. This was after trailing most of the day and only going ahead with just over a minute to play.

-- Wake also needed a late INT returned for a TD to hold off UConn.

-- Finally, Wake needed a last minute INT to keep UNC from sending their game into OT.

-- On BC’s side. BC blocked a Clemson PAT in OT to hold off the Tigers at home.

-- BC also needed a second OT to beat BYU. The Cougars missed a FG in the first OT.

So both teams are lucky to be where they are. Of the two I would say that WF has been more lucky/overachieved. My hope is that their luck will end starting this Saturday.


Deacon Drake said...

You missed Wake beating NC St by virtue of 3 50+ FGs (unheard of in college), and a missed 2 pt conversion by the Pack to tie.

BCMike said...

I disagree with the Clemson win being counted as "lucky". While I think either team could have won--let's remember that the blocked extra point didn't seal the game. BC still had to drive down, score a TD, and kick the XP (now THAT part w/Ollie is lucky...lucky he didn't shank another one) to win.

The BYU win is also subjective to Ollie's two missed XP's. He doesn't miss those, that game never goes into OT.