2011 Covariance Rankings, End Of Regular Season

It's time to update one of my favorite measures, Covariance; it is otherwise known as the "Playing Up To Your Competition" measure. Here's an explanation:

[Covariance is] a look at which teams play better against good teams and which teams play better against worse. The higher the COVAR figure, the more likely you are to rack up great numbers against lesser teams but perform at a lower level against good ones. I played with this a bit this summer, but I'm still figuring out what it could mean in terms of predictive value. Teams like No. 26 Ohio State and No. 43 Missouri are on the high side (meaning they dominate when they have an advantage but don't play up to a higher level of competition), while No. 22 Miami and No. 42 Texas Tech have tended to play better against better teams. This doesn't mean the "playing up to competition" teams are better -- it could mean you just end up with competitive losses against good teams and competitive wins/losses against lesser ones -- but it is interesting.

For your end-of-regular-season look at Covariance, I'm adding offensive and defensive ratings to this.

  • Covariance compares a team's Adj. Scoring Margin in a given game to its opponent's F/+ rating.
  • Off. Covariance compares an offense's Adj. Points in a given game to its opponent's Def. F/+ rating.
  • Def. Covariance compares a defense's Adj. Points Allowed in a given game to its opponent's Off. F/+ rating.

Off. and Def. Covariance won't add up to the total Covariance number because it is comparing different things.

Anyway, this really is an interesting way to look at teams. First, you've got teams like Army and SMU, which spent the season playing perfectly well against bad teams and laying down versus good ones. Then you've got Missouri, which played better defense against worse offenses ... and better offense against better defenses. (This may have had something to do with the fact that Henry Josey missed games versus two bad defenses in Texas Tech and Kansas.) Then you've got Mississippi State, the anti-Missouri.

Then you've got Northwestern, Clemson and Miami, which saved its best efforts for its best opponents and suffered some letdowns otherwise.

The higher the rank, the better a team played against poor competition. I'm still not sure the best way to "rank" these teams in this sense.

Team Covariance Rk Off. Covar Rk Def. Covar Rk
Army 411.0 1 145.8 5 -312.4 1
SMU 400.2 2 97.8 17 -272.5 2
Texas 358.0 3 181.4 3 -93.4 27
Penn State 262.9 4 37.5 39 -120.1 16
UL-Monroe 259.2 5 0.3 61 -151.6 9
Florida State 249.4 6 99.8 15 33.1 93
Temple 246.8 7 91.1 18 -139.2 11
Missouri 242.8 8 -87.4 104 -199.8 4
Mississippi State 238.2 9 297.5 1 73.3 105
Kansas State 224.5 10 -51.4 89 -201.2 3
Kentucky 211.1 11 127.0 9 -106.2 25
Michigan 209.1 12 114.8 11 -75.7 31
Nevada 206.7 13 58.1 29 -55.3 38
South Florida 206.5 14 106.1 13 -134.6 13
Western Michigan 205.3 15 41.0 35 -176.4 6
Virginia Tech 201.1 16 15.4 56 -35.4 49
Michigan State 200.3 17 -74.1 99 -94.8 26
Purdue 194.8 18 88.4 19 -113.2 21
Florida 190.2 19 185.1 2 9.8 78
Ohio State 189.4 20 55.7 30 -113.9 20

Full list, as always, after the jump.

Team Covariance Rk Off. Covar Rk Def. Covar Rk
Ball State 180.9 21 144.6 6 -1.9 70
Georgia 175.4 22 -93.0 109 -175.1 7
North Texas 165.4 23 21.4 50 -144.2 10
Memphis 158.6 24 110.2 12 2.1 71
Illinois 157.8 25 41.0 34 -51.5 40
Kansas 157.7 26 41.1 33 -26.8 53
Bowling Green 153.9 27 87.2 20 -53.4 39
Tulsa 152.0 28 84.7 22 -25.3 54
California 145.4 29 23.6 46 -115.8 19
New Mexico 135.0 30 136.6 7 29.6 91
Wake Forest 132.5 31 -55.5 90 -197.3 5
Tennessee 125.7 32 -0.4 62 -51.1 41
Connecticut 124.2 33 38.4 38 -75.0 32
Duke 120.4 34 98.4 16 -13.3 61
Kent State 117.8 35 115.5 10 -12.3 63
Texas A&M 117.0 36 19.6 51 45.7 99
LSU 115.6 37 23.3 47 -108.2 23
Colorado 112.7 38 85.0 21 -20.9 59
Georgia Tech 110.8 39 146.3 4 -59.7 36
Notre Dame 105.5 40 29.2 41 -5.9 65
Team Covariance Rk Off. Covar Rk Def. Covar Rk
Arkansas State 105.1 41 78.1 24 -107.2 24
UCLA 103.0 42 -75.4 100 -89.7 28
TCU 99.2 43 -40.2 84 -116.1 18
BYU 98.6 44 40.3 36 -33.2 51
Eastern Michigan 89.9 45 38.7 37 -124.4 14
Houston 87.5 46 71.8 27 6.8 76
Central Florida 87.3 47 -41.9 85 -87.4 29
Miami-OH 86.4 48 29.0 42 2.7 73
Akron 85.9 49 82.1 23 -24.9 56
Virginia 85.4 50 -102.6 113 -117.8 17
Central Michigan 74.7 51 -4.7 64 -163.3 8
Buffalo 72.6 52 15.9 54 -44.4 45
Stanford 63.5 53 -13.7 72 -35.0 50
Idaho 61.8 54 2.0 59 -2.3 69
Vanderbilt 55.0 55 -12.6 68 -40.4 47
Wyoming 52.8 56 15.4 55 -55.4 37
Rice 51.8 57 -77.6 102 -63.2 35
Cincinnati 51.7 58 28.6 43 16.3 83
Washington State 51.2 59 104.5 14 40.5 97
Utah State 49.9 60 48.3 32 -21.0 58
Team Covariance Rk Off. Covar Rk Def. Covar Rk
Florida Atlantic 49.9 61 25.7 45 6.8 75
San Jose State 43.9 62 71.4 28 -13.3 62
Florida International 43.8 63 16.3 53 22.5 87
Tulane 36.9 64 32.9 40 8.7 77
Fresno State 25.3 65 78.1 25 20.7 86
UL-Lafayette 23.6 66 -13.1 69 92.5 110
Middle Tennessee 21.7 67 -13.5 71 12.9 81
New Mexico State 21.2 68 -44.2 86 -18.3 60
Oklahoma 15.4 69 -21.2 73 15.4 82
North Carolina 10.4 70 21.6 49 20.5 85
San Diego State 8.2 71 -32.2 80 -30.5 52
Oregon 6.7 72 -30.6 78 -21.8 57
UTEP 6.3 73 -122.3 117 -108.9 22
Rutgers 5.5 74 -61.6 91 -82.2 30
Ole Miss 4.6 75 -26.9 74 19.0 84
Oregon State 2.9 76 -3.3 63 -4.9 67
Indiana 2.3 77 -36.8 81 44.2 98
Navy 2.1 78 -27.1 75 -46.6 43
Iowa -6.5 79 17.0 52 84.5 108
Hawaii -7.6 80 -37.3 83 -37.5 48
Team Covariance Rk Off. Covar Rk Def. Covar Rk
Minnesota -7.6 81 53.0 31 106.0 112
East Carolina -8.7 82 28.4 44 38.4 96
Washington -8.9 83 22.5 48 11.3 80
Marshall -11.8 84 -48.6 88 11.2 79
Alabama -13.7 85 135.2 8 214.5 118
South Carolina -13.7 86 74.5 26 271.2 119
Texas Tech -17.1 87 -31.2 79 -42.7 46
Boise State -20.1 88 -62.7 92 -137.4 12
Boston College -22.4 89 -5.6 66 29.2 90
Toledo -23.2 90 -10.1 67 105.0 111
Auburn -34.2 91 7.1 58 79.3 107
Air Force -37.6 92 -29.6 76 -45.4 44
Arizona -48.3 93 -5.6 65 -25.3 55
Wisconsin -50.0 94 -139.0 120 -124.4 15
Arkansas -56.1 95 -85.3 103 -50.1 42
Pittsburgh -57.1 96 -37.1 82 85.7 109
Western Kentucky -58.7 97 -45.3 87 128.8 115
Troy -61.0 98 9.0 57 2.3 72
Louisiana Tech -69.0 99 -76.4 101 56.7 102
Southern Miss -74.6 100 -64.6 93 48.3 101
Team Covariance Rk Off. Covar Rk Def. Covar Rk
Nebraska -83.6 101 -29.7 77 71.2 104
Utah -83.8 102 1.6 60 166.8 117
NC State -89.1 103 -13.5 70 135.3 116
Syracuse -94.8 104 -88.6 106 -5.5 66
Ohio -100.0 105 -126.3 119 -69.7 34
Baylor -101.1 106 -94.6 111 -72.9 33
Louisville -108.7 107 -91.9 108 -4.4 68
USC -111.6 108 -65.7 95 77.6 106
Oklahoma State -117.8 109 -65.5 94 4.7 74
Northern Illinois -118.6 110 -67.3 96 276.7 120
Maryland -125.5 111 -106.8 115 -8.3 64
Arizona State -130.2 112 -73.9 98 38.4 95
Colorado State -142.5 113 -99.7 112 48.2 100
UNLV -159.2 114 -88.7 107 30.5 92
Iowa State -163.7 115 -104.3 114 23.9 88
West Virginia -168.0 116 -126.0 118 28.9 89
UAB -188.9 117 -88.4 105 61.0 103
Northwestern -192.3 118 -109.7 116 35.8 94
Clemson -230.9 119 -70.6 97 122.7 114
Miami -237.6 120 -93.8 110 108.0 113

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