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November 10, 2010

A HUGE Mismatch

The 2010 Georgia Bulldogs: Statistically sound but maintaining a disappointing, .500 record.

Judging by its title, did you think this post might be about Auburn's Cam Newton (whether a money-grubbing cheater or not) and Georgia's defense?  Not quite.

Instead, it concerns the Bulldogs as a whole - a team that looks good on paper, that is, until you come to the win-loss column.

Being the stat geek that I am, yesterday, I checked out the team's season statistics for, believe it or not, the first time in several weeks.  What I observed was something I've rarely, if ever, seen (and believe me I've looked at some football stats in my time).

Through 10 games this year, Georgia has a decided advantage in the three most important and seemingly, most telling football statistics:
  • A scoring margin of +14.4 points (33.8-19.4)
  • Outgaining the opposition by an average of 89.1 yards (394.6-305.5)
  • A turnover margin of +0.70 (12 turnovers committed, 19 gained) 
How common has it been for Bulldog football teams to finish seasons achieving comparable statistical differences?  Not very. 

Of the 64 Georgia teams from 1946-2009, only 18 had a scoring margin of 12.0 or more points, 17 outgained their opponents by an average of 75 yards or more, and just 22 had a turnover margin of 0.5 or better.

Of those 64 Bulldog squads, just 11 - 1946, '48, '67, '68, '71, '76, '81, '97, 2002, '03, '05 - achieved (as the 2010 team is currently doing) all three of these one-sided margins.  Everyone of these Georgia teams, besides the '67 Dogs, won at least eight regular-season games and were either SEC champs or came within a game of being so.  Combined, the 11 teams had a remarkable winning percentage of .864

From a historical and statistical perspective, how the heck do the current Bulldogs have a record of just 5 and 5?  If I looked at Georgia's statistics - everything but its win-loss record - I'd speculate the Dogs were 7-3 at worst, maybe as good as 9-1.  Nevertheless, here they stand at .500. 

Is the idea of a good team, bad record simply because the Bulldogs, excluding Colorado, have destroyed their much inferior opponents while falling just short against the capable foes, or is there more to it than that?

I haven't forgotten Georgia still has some stiff competition remaining on its regular-season schedule, including perhaps the best team in the nation.  Notwithstanding, consider this: The Bulldogs are one of only 10 FBS teams (out of 120) that currently have all three of the aforementioned margins over their respective opposition. 

The other nine: Ohio State, Iowa, Oregon, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., TCU, Alabama, Stanford, and Michigan St. - teams that have a combined record of 73-10 (.880), the worst record being 7-2, and all appearing in the top 16 of the current BCS Standings.   

If the Bulldogs had perhaps caught some breaks this season, didn't repeatedly beat themselves, and finished the drill occasionally, they'd have a lot more in common with those nine teams besides a trio of [when you get right down to it] meaningless statistics.  There's really only one statistic that counts...

As Bill Parcells says, "You are what you are," ...and the Bulldogs are currently a 5-5 team with mere hopes of going to a bowl game.


Anonymous said...


This is a thoughful and revealing post. It suggests that besides doing well in the standard indicators of accomplishments on the gridiron, a successful team has to get it share of "breaks." And lady luck has been an infrequent visitor as far as the Bulldogs have been concerned. She might be on Georgia's side this weekend. In fact, I predict that Georgia will defeat Auburn.
Old Dawg

thom said...