The Toolbox: Offensive PPP

Last week we took a look at success rates, our efficiency measure of choice (offense, defense).  Today, we move to the other side of the S&P coin, EqPts Per Play, the explosiveness measure of choice, the slugging percentage to success rates' on-base percentage.

First, we start with the official EqPts definition at Football Outsiders:

Equivalent Points (EqPts): Method used by our college football analyst Bill Connelly, giving each yard line a point value based on the average number of points a team can expect to score from that spot on the field. (This is similar to the method we use to measure NFL special teams.) From there, each gain or loss is given a point value based on the change in EqPts.

Here's what I said about the EqPts concept in my very first Varsity Numbers column at Football Outsiders way, way back in aught-eight:

I enjoyed having Jerome "2 carries, 3 yards, 2 TDs" Bettis on my fantasy team that last year of his career, but let's be honest: Just about anybody could have come in and plunged in from the 1. Getting the ball to the 1 was the much bigger accomplishment, no? In this way, touchdowns are basically the Runs Batted In of football -- get enough of them, and it's damn impressive, but you need quite a bit of help racking up a big number.

Case in point: November 10, College Park, Maryland. Tight end Jason Goode catches two touchdown passes (of ten and seven yards) from Chris Turner as Maryland upsets No. 8 Boston College, 42-35. Good for Mr. Goode. However, what contributed more to Maryland's touchdowns -- Goode's two receptions or the 43-yard catch by Darrius Hayward that set up the first score and the 45-yard catch by Isaiah Williams that set up the second? What if we could apply a point value to all four catches?

So that was the goal. I determined the points scored on every possession of every game and assigned those points to each play of the possession. From there I was able to assign a 'point value' to every yard line based on the average number of points you could expect to score from there. And with that I was able to assign an Equivalent Point Value (EqPt) to every play.

The EqPts concept is perhaps best described by the following graph:

Click to enlarge.

This shows you, basically, the point value of every yard line on the college football field.  Note the different slopes.  A five-yard gain from your own one is worth fewer EqPts than a five-yard gain at the opponent's 30.  And since you still aren't guaranteed points until the ball crosses the end zone, a touchdown is still worth much more than anything else (6.96 points, to be exact, since college kickers can be expected to make 96.3% of their PATs).

Baseball's slugging percentage calculates the number of bases you earned per at bat.  EqPts Per Play (PPP), therefore, calculates the number of approximate points you earned with every play you ran.  It is my favorite creation, honestly, both potentially elegant and powerful.  Now let's see what it can do.

As we did last week with success rates, the best way to get a feel for the PPP measure is to first look at some anchors.  And as with success rates, the single-game measures come only from plays run during non-garbage time.

Smallest Single-Game PPP Against a Non-FCS Opponent, 2005-10
1. Buffalo (2005, vs Miami-OH): -0.26
2. Mississippi State (2005, vs Arkansas): -0.21
3. Temple (2006, vs Minnesota): -0.15
4. Washington State (2009, vs UCLA): -0.13
5. Idaho (2010, vs Boise State): -0.12
6. New Mexico State (2005, vs UTEP): -0.11
7. Washington State (2009, vs Arizona): -0.11
8. Tulane (2010, vs Central Florida): -0.09
9. Western Kentucky (2009, vs Tennessee): -0.08
10. UTEP (2009, vs Texas): -0.08

Other Games of Note
12. Northwestern (2010, vs Wisconsin): -0.08
23. Boston College (2009, vs Virginia Tech): -0.05
25: Boise State (2005, vs Georgia): -0.05
34. Arizona (2009, vs Nebraska): -0.03

So on average, every time these teams ran a play under "close" circumstances, they lost ground.  It's hard to win like that.  And I almost hate to bring it up, but ... that 2009 Washington State team really was among the worst major conference teams of all-time.  What you thought was reasonable improvement from Wazzu in 2010 was actually rather significant improvement.

Largest Single-Game PPP Against a Non-FCS Opponent, 2005-10
1. Cincinnati (2010, vs Miami-OH): 1.46
2. Miami (2005, vs Temple): 1.44
3. LSU (2006, vs Mississippi State): 1.31
4. Minnesota (2006, vs Indiana): 1.25
5. California (2009, vs Washington State): 1.19
6. Iowa (2005, vs Minnesota): 1.17
7. Hawaii (2006, vs Utah State): 1.15
8. Louisville (2010, vs Memphis): 1.13
9. Northern Illinois (2009, vs Eastern Michigan): 1.12
10. Colorado State (2010, vs UNLV): 1.10

Other Games of Note
16. USC (2005, vs Arkansas): 1.06
19. Alabama (2010, vs Duke): 1.04
23. Texas (2005, vs Kansas): 0.98
31. Missouri (2008, vs Nevada): 0.96

PPP is a pure measure of explosiveness and, indirectly, athleticism.  Teams with less athleticism than their opponents can outfox them into higher success rates ... but you really cannot fake explosiveness.  You either have it or you don't.  The teams on the above list bludgeoned their opponents with athleticism and big plays.  (And I think there's a pretty good reason why some of the same teams that are on the "Smallest" list were also victimized on the "Largest" list.)

I put the 2008 Missouri-Nevada game on there, simply because I cannot imagine 30 offensive performances better than it.  It was probably the most dominant offensive game I've witnessed in person.  Ten yards per play.  Touchdowns of 80, 59, 49, 32 and 27 yards. Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Derrick Washington (sigh), Chase Coffman, etc., were all at the top of their games.  It was so bad that my best friend and I turned to each other in the second quarter and said "It's never going to get better than this, is it?"  For that Missouri team, we were right -- it didn't.

Worst Single-Season PPP, 2005-10
1. Temple (2006): 0.11
2. Washington State (2009): 0.13
3. Temple (2005): 0.16
4. Florida International (2006): 0.16
5. New Mexico State (2009): 0.17
6. Stanford (2006): 0.17
7. Duke (2005): 0.17
8. Buffalo (2005): 0.17
9. Syracuse (2005): 0.17
10. North Texas (2006): 0.19

Other Teams of Note
14. Ole Miss (2005): 0.20
22. Notre Dame (2007): 0.21
28. Virginia (2009): 0.22
31. Washington (2008): 0.22
32. Kansas (2010): 0.23

At some point, I really need to dive into Notre Dame's 2007 collapse.  It was so, so stark.

Best Single-Season PPP, 2005-10
1. Oklahoma (2008): 0.57
2. Hawaii (2006): 0.57
3. Florida (2007): 0.53
4. West Virginia (2006): 0.53
5. Boise State (2010): 0.52
6. Texas (2005): 0.51
7. USC (2005): 0.51
8. Tulsa (2008): 0.51
9. Hawaii (2007): 0.50
10. Hawaii (2010): 0.50

Other Teams of Note
11. Florida (2008): 0.50
12. Cincinnati (2009): 0.50
13. Auburn (2010): 0.49
14. Oklahoma State (2008): 0.49
15. Stanford (2010): 0.49

So that 2006 Hawaii squad ended up at or near the top of the list of best 2005-10 success rates and PPP.  Proof that your best team doesn't always go the furthest.  The 2007 Hawaii team got the BCS bid thanks to a much easier schedule and close wins, but the 2006 team was better, especially on offense.

So there's your background.  Now here are your 2010 rankings.  Once again, teams are ranked in order of schedule-adjusted PPP; we will discuss the schedule-adjustment soon enough.

2010 FBS Offenses, Ranked by PPP+
Rk Offense ClosePPP+ Raw PPP Rk Rushing PPP Rk Passing PPP Rk
1 Auburn 174.6 0.49 3 0.40 8 0.65 1
2 Arkansas 160.4 0.45 9 0.34 34 0.53 7
3 Michigan 155.0 0.43 15 0.37 17 0.52 11
4 Alabama 153.1 0.47 5 0.42 4 0.52 10
5 Stanford 153.0 0.49 4 0.39 13 0.60 3
6 Boise State 149.5 0.52 1 0.42 5 0.61 2
7 Florida State 141.0 0.38 29 0.37 19 0.39 49
8 Ohio State 140.7 0.45 10 0.39 15 0.53 8
9 Virginia Tech 137.6 0.41 19 0.37 18 0.47 19
10 Nevada 136.1 0.46 8 0.44 2 0.49 15
11 Michigan State 135.6 0.43 17 0.39 12 0.46 21
12 Oregon State 133.1 0.35 57 0.34 36 0.35 72
13 TCU 133.1 0.47 6 0.40 9 0.55 5
14 Oregon 132.4 0.45 11 0.40 10 0.50 13
15 Wisconsin 132.2 0.44 12 0.43 3 0.45 24
16 Washington 132.0 0.36 47 0.33 42 0.39 51
17 Oklahoma State 130.7 0.44 14 0.39 14 0.48 18
18 Utah 130.6 0.39 26 0.30 65 0.46 23
19 South Carolina 130.1 0.39 23 0.34 33 0.45 25
20 Hawaii 129.5 0.50 2 0.49 1 0.51 12
21 Oklahoma 128.9 0.36 40 0.26 95 0.44 28
22 Pittsburgh 127.6 0.36 44 0.35 30 0.38 62
23 Baylor 127.1 0.42 18 0.34 31 0.48 17
24 East Carolina 126.0 0.39 22 0.36 23 0.41 36
25 Cincinnati 126.0 0.36 50 0.33 46 0.38 61
26 Notre Dame 125.6 0.35 55 0.28 82 0.40 45
27 Georgia 124.5 0.40 21 0.33 45 0.47 20
28 San Diego State 123.4 0.46 7 0.37 22 0.54 6
29 Missouri 122.8 0.36 39 0.40 11 0.34 82
30 Kansas State 120.4 0.37 33 0.36 25 0.39 48
31 USC 120.3 0.38 31 0.37 20 0.39 55
32 Iowa 119.4 0.39 24 0.30 69 0.49 14
33 Miami-FL 118.3 0.32 81 0.28 79 0.35 78
34 Maryland 117.2 0.35 53 0.28 78 0.42 35
35 LSU 115.8 0.33 66 0.33 43 0.34 81
36 Kentucky 115.6 0.37 34 0.33 47 0.41 37
37 Nebraska 115.2 0.37 35 0.38 16 0.35 75
38 Ole Miss 115.0 0.38 32 0.37 21 0.39 52
39 Texas A&M 114.9 0.33 68 0.33 44 0.34 83
40 Arizona 114.8 0.35 56 0.30 66 0.38 60
41 Florida 114.3 0.32 79 0.33 37 0.30 101
42 NC State 114.2 0.32 76 0.26 97 0.37 66
43 Tennessee 114.2 0.36 46 0.27 88 0.43 31
44 Northern Illinois 114.0 0.44 12 0.41 6 0.48 16
45 Navy 112.8 0.40 20 0.36 24 0.56 4
46 Texas Tech 111.6 0.35 52 0.29 77 0.40 44
47 Louisville 111.5 0.36 45 0.32 53 0.40 39
48 Minnesota 110.1 0.31 83 0.25 101 0.38 59
49 Arizona State 109.2 0.36 42 0.31 59 0.40 40
50 Tulsa 108.1 0.43 16 0.40 7 0.45 26
51 Clemson 107.7 0.30 87 0.28 83 0.32 90
52 Illinois 107.2 0.36 49 0.34 35 0.39 46
53 Air Force 106.8 0.38 27 0.35 29 0.52 9
54 Colorado 106.1 0.34 63 0.27 91 0.42 34
55 Florida International 105.2 0.35 51 0.35 28 0.36 70
56 Indiana 105.1 0.34 59 0.24 103 0.40 42
57 Penn State 104.2 0.32 78 0.26 94 0.38 58
58 Duke 104.0 0.32 80 0.32 50 0.31 98
59 North Carolina 103.7 0.33 64 0.29 71 0.37 64
60 Georgia Tech 103.5 0.34 62 0.34 32 0.31 97
61 Houston 102.9 0.38 28 0.33 41 0.42 33
62 Toledo 102.8 0.34 58 0.29 72 0.41 38
63 Troy 101.9 0.38 30 0.30 63 0.44 29
64 West Virginia 101.8 0.31 84 0.24 107 0.39 54
65 South Florida 101.7 0.29 96 0.27 91 0.32 91
66 Wake Forest 101.1 0.30 91 0.31 57 0.27 107
67 Fresno State 101.0 0.36 43 0.31 60 0.43 30
68 UAB 99.8 0.36 38 0.30 68 0.42 32
69 Central Florida 99.8 0.39 25 0.35 26 0.46 22
70 Virginia 99.7 0.33 73 0.30 64 0.35 79
71 Connecticut 99.7 0.29 94 0.29 75 0.30 102
72 Temple 99.3 0.34 60 0.33 40 0.35 76
73 Western Michigan 98.8 0.36 41 0.32 49 0.39 56
74 SMU 97.3 0.36 47 0.31 58 0.39 50
75 Wyoming 97.1 0.31 82 0.31 62 0.32 92
76 Mississippi State 96.7 0.33 65 0.30 67 0.40 41
77 Ohio 96.5 0.37 36 0.32 54 0.44 27
78 Eastern Michigan 96.4 0.32 75 0.29 74 0.39 53
79 Iowa State 95.2 0.27 105 0.27 89 0.28 104
80 Louisiana Tech 94.9 0.33 67 0.32 51 0.34 80
81 Southern Miss 94.9 0.37 37 0.33 39 0.40 43
82 Washington State 93.8 0.28 101 0.24 105 0.32 94
83 UNLV 93.1 0.27 109 0.22 113 0.32 96
84 Northwestern 92.1 0.33 72 0.28 84 0.38 57
85 BYU 91.5 0.31 85 0.28 81 0.33 85
86 Arkansas State 90.7 0.35 54 0.32 52 0.38 63
87 California 90.2 0.30 89 0.32 48 0.27 108
88 Army 89.7 0.32 74 0.32 55 0.36 69
89 UCLA 89.3 0.29 98 0.33 38 0.21 119
90 Marshall 88.9 0.29 95 0.20 116 0.37 66
91 Syracuse 88.6 0.28 100 0.26 98 0.31 99
92 Rice 88.6 0.33 70 0.28 80 0.39 47
93 Colorado State 87.4 0.28 99 0.26 96 0.30 100
94 Rutgers 85.7 0.27 108 0.21 115 0.32 95
95 Miami-OH 85.4 0.30 90 0.26 99 0.33 87
96 Idaho 84.6 0.33 71 0.27 93 0.37 66
97 Boston College 84.2 0.25 113 0.22 112 0.28 105
98 North Texas 84.0 0.33 69 0.32 56 0.35 74
99 UL-Lafayette 84.0 0.30 88 0.24 108 0.35 76
100 San Jose State 83.1 0.29 93 0.24 104 0.33 88
101 Kent State 80.9 0.28 102 0.29 72 0.27 106
102 Texas 80.8 0.26 112 0.27 90 0.25 111
103 UTEP 80.2 0.34 61 0.31 60 0.37 65
104 Central Michigan 80.0 0.30 86 0.27 86 0.32 93
105 Purdue 78.6 0.27 107 0.27 85 0.27 109
106 Vanderbilt 78.5 0.26 110 0.29 70 0.23 116
107 Utah State 78.1 0.27 106 0.29 76 0.25 115
108 Tulane 77.2 0.29 92 0.25 102 0.33 84
109 Florida Atlantic 76.4 0.27 104 0.19 117 0.35 71
110 UL-Monroe 74.5 0.29 97 0.23 110 0.35 73
111 Ball State 71.6 0.28 103 0.24 109 0.33 86
112 Western Kentucky 71.5 0.26 111 0.27 87 0.25 114
113 Middle Tennessee 70.1 0.32 77 0.35 27 0.28 103
114 Bowling Green 67.7 0.23 117 0.23 111 0.23 117
115 Akron 66.6 0.23 115 0.24 106 0.23 118
116 Kansas 65.9 0.23 118 0.26 100 0.19 120
117 Memphis 65.9 0.22 119 0.17 119 0.27 110
118 New Mexico State 64.0 0.23 116 0.22 114 0.25 113
119 Buffalo 63.5 0.24 114 0.15 120 0.33 89
120 New Mexico 60.9 0.21 120 0.18 118 0.25 112

I'd have been quite interested to see what Rich Rodriguez would have done in Ann Arbor in 2011 -- albeit with a different defensive coordinator. The Wolverines had a really, really strong offense in 2010, even though Denard Robinson predictably couldn't keep up his hilarious early pace.

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