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Championship Week Thoughts

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A Simple Look at the Match Ups

As you probably know in following me, I prefer trends, answering questions with number, telling stories with metrics and future predictions of team performance.  I get a lot of questions each season about handicapping and predicting game outcomes and spreads.  I normally pass, but this week there are a few games and a lot of trends so I like to break out my simple NFL model of game averages to predict the games, the spread and other random thoughts that come up.

Playoffs:  I feel Clemson, Alabama, Washington and Penn State are going to win this weekend and all are getting into the playoffs.  SEC plays Big Ten (even if it is tOSU) and Clemson vs Washington for the semifinals.  Until the committee shows me a team doesn’t have to win their conference title game to get in, I am saying they are out.  It is unfair to reward a team with a bye to get healthy, game plan and avoid injury with a playoff seeding.  I’ll recant only when a non-champ fails to get into the playoffs.

MAC Championship:  Ohio vs Western Michigan.  WMU is by far an away the #1 recruiter in the MAC.  No question they should be here as their schedule said they should be undefeated in conference.  Ohio had a poor offense, averaging a scoring efficiency 9% less than the defenses it faced.  WMU defense was 21% stronger than the offenses it faced.  Give the pace of each offense and defense this works out to 18.5 points for Ohio.  Round up to 20 or down to 17 for a football number. The WMU offense was 54% more efficient than the average defenses it faced, but Ohio was 21% better than the offenses.  WMU plays the 101st slowest pace in the FBS and gives WMU a projected 28.9 points.
For the game:  Lean Under/OH cover -16.5 WMU 30-17 or 30-20 depending on your direction for Ohio.

SEC Championship: Alabama -24 vs Florida The Gators offense is the achilles heal in this game.  Florida average offensive scoring efficiency is exactly what the defenses they faced gave up.  Alabama has the no. 1 scoring efficiency defense. On the flip side, the Gator defense holds opposing offenses to 44% lower efficiency.  Alabama’s offense is 57% better, but that barely cancels the Gators D.  The Tide defense, no. 1 in scoring efficiency, is holding team to 60% less offense than their average.  This is a defensive battle.  The total is 40.5.  41 is a strong number so take U41.  The +24 Alabama is getting is a huge number giving these teams defenses in 2016.
Game Prediction:  Lean Under 41/ UF +24 and Alabama wins 24-10

AAC Championship: Temple vs Navy -2.5 – When will it be Ken Nuimatalolo’s last game at Navy?  Someone needs  to grab him and put this offense in the power 5.  Somewhere. Please.  The Navy offense, in the AAC, has been running 51% more efficient than their defensive counterparts.  Their defense is not good giving up efficiency -1% less than the offenses they face. They can only out score the opponent.  Temple is very good and balanced, but does nothing extraordinary.  +38% above opponents on offense and +40% above opponents on defense.  The exact number for Navy is 32.38 and Temple is 30.01. This could be fun.
Game Prediction:  Lean Over 60.5/ no ATS lean and Navy wins 33-30 (60 is a weak total. Beware 58 & 59 are fb #s)

BEDLAM!  Oklahoma -11 vs Oklahoma State – Like the AAC champ game, this is an unbalanced offensive juggernaut versus the balance of Gundy’s team.  The Sooner offense has one of the best scoring efficiency marks in the FBS, posting a mark 57% better than the average defense they faced.  The down side if their defense, that is just 5% better than the offenses on their schedule.  The Cowboy offense is solid, with an average scoring efficiency 36% better than their opponents.  The defense is not stellar, but has a scoring efficiency mark 19% better than the Big 12 offenses plus Pitt.  The two numbers for OU are 40.24 and 40.65.  Their football number is 41.  Oklahoma State has 36.44 and 39.19.  I’ll take 38 as their number.  The total as of this moment is 76 points.  That and 75 are odd numbers so it is good to be on side.  My lowest averaging puts this as a 77.01 point game.
Game Prediction:  Lean Over 76 – OSU +11 and Oklahoma wins 41-39

ACC Championship Clemson -10.5 vs Virginia Tech (T59)

Big Ten Championship Wisconsin -3 vs Penn State (T46.5)  The Badgers offense is producing at a rate 25% beyond the defenses they faced this year.  Their defensive scoring efficiency was 46% better than the offenses they face.  Neither number is elite, but their schedule was strong and they faced more talent than Penn State.  The Nittany Lions offense was incredible.  After they finally rid themselves of Hackenberg (Ewing Theory) and made a risky but paid off hire in Moorhead, the Lions were 51% above the defenses they faced in offensive efficiency.  The averaging model gives Wisconsin 25.01 points and Penn State 22.89.
Game Prediction: No total lean (too close)  Penn State covers – Wisconsin wins 24-23

Shits and giggles:  Michigan posted an incredible +75% offensive scoring efficiency metric beyond the defenses they faced to lead the nation.  Their defense was elite as well holding the average offense 50% under their season averages. Ohio State was +60% for their offense and +49% for their defense.  If they were playing again today, the averaging model says 15.98 Michigan, 18.78 Ohio State.

 

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