Study Hall: Auburn 41, Mississippi State 34

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 10: Running back Vick Ballard #28 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs dives for the endzone, but is ruled out of bounds at the one yard line in the fourth quarter against the Auburn Tigers on September 10, 2011 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)

Ballard was sooooooooo close to scoring on that dive toward the pylon, wasn't he...

Auburn 41, Mississippi State 34


Auburn Miss. St.
Auburn Miss. St.
Close % 100.0% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 49.2% 32.0% Success Rate 55.3% 56.7%
Leverage % 79.7% 69.1% PPP 0.42 0.37
S&P 0.975 0.935
TOTAL
EqPts 25.1 29.4 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 45.8% 47.4% Success Rate 8.3% 26.7%
Close PPP 0.43 0.30 PPP 0.44 0.16
Close S&P 0.883 0.777 S&P 0.525 0.423
RUSHING TURNOVERS
EqPts 15.0 19.7 Number 1 1
Close Success Rate 54.3% 51.6% Turnover Pts 8.1 3.1
Close PPP 0.43 0.32 Turnover Pts Margin -5.0 +5.0
Close S&P 0.971 0.834
Line Yards/carry 3.42 3.49 Q1 S&P 0.713 1.024
Q2 S&P 1.230 0.371
PASSING Q3 S&P 0.782 0.768
EqPts 10.1 9.7 Q4 S&P 0.731 0.929
Close Success Rate 33.3% 40.0%
Close PPP 0.42 0.28 1st Down S&P 1.081 0.816
Close S&P 0.756 0.676 2nd Down S&P 0.550 0.674
SD/PD Sack Rate 7.1% / 0.0% 5.3% / 0.0% 3rd Down S&P 0.865 0.842
Projected Pt. Margin: Mississippi State +9.3 | Actual Pt. Margin: Auburn +7

Five Thoughts

  1. I give up trying to figure out Auburn. I've decided our preseason projections, ones I thought were far too optimistic, are going to be correct, not because the Tigers are going to play like a Top Five team, but because they're going to continue winning every single close game between now and next decade. (And then they're going to lose them all.) Teams aren't supposed to win 10 straight one-possession games, especially when they are outplayed as AU was at Jordan-Hare this weekend. The play-by-play suggests a nine-point MSU win. Not so much.

  2. On a play-for-play basis, however, Auburn's offense was a decent amount better than MSU's. MSU made up ground with ball control, running 97 plays to AU's 59. The Auburn run game was outstanding, as Michael Dyer (150 yards, 8.3 per carry) provided a big-play capability that the great Vick Ballard (135 yards, 6.4 per carry) evidently lacked. Both rushing attacks were good, and both offensive lines had their way in terms of run blocking, but Dyer gave Auburn a slight advantage. You're not going to see a single-game leverage rate much higher than Auburn's 80%, and Dyer was the primary reason why.

  3. Actually, along those same lines, the pass rushes for both teams were mostly ineffective as well. Both offensive lines had a significant overall advantage.

  4. At the same time, neither offense could do anything whatsoever on passing downs. Auburn is still breaking in quarterback Barrett Trotter, and Mississippi State probably doesn't trust Chris Relf's arm as much as his legs, and neither team either took chances or succeeded once they fell off schedule.

  5. Auburn did most of their damage in the second quarter, exploding for 17 points. Their last 16 plays of the second quarter (following a Mississippi State pick six) went for 167 yards and 17 points to give AU a 31-24 lead. From there, they basically held on for dear life.

Quick glossary after the jump...

A Quick Glossary

F/+ Rankings: The official rankings for the college portion of Football Outsiders. They combine my own S&P+ rankings (based on play-by-play data) with Brian Fremeau's drives-based FEI rankings.

Passing Downs: Second-and-7 or more, third-and-5 or more.

PPP: An explosiveness measure derived from determining the point value of every yard line (based on the expected number of points an offense could expect to score from that yard line) and, therefore, every play of a given game.

S&P+: Think of this as an OPS (the "On-Base Plus Slugging" baseball measure) for football. The 'S' stands for success rates, a common Football Outsiders efficiency measure that basically serves as on-base percentage. The 'P' stands for PPP+, an explosiveness measure that stands for EqPts Per Play. The "+" means it has been adjusted for the level of opponent, obviously a key to any good measure in college football. S&P+ is measured for all non-garbage time plays in a given college football game. Plays are counted within the following criteria: when the score is within 28 points in the first quarter, within 24 points in the second quarter, within 21 points in the third quarter, and within 16 points (i.e. two possession) in the fourth quarter. For more about this measure, visit the main S&P+ page at Football Outsiders.

Standard Downs: First downs, second-and-6 or less, third-and-4 or less.

Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.

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