Study Hall: Florida State 18, Notre Dame 14

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 29: Safety Lamarcus Joyner #20 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates a first-quarter interception against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Champs Sports Bowl December 29, 2011 at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

While quite a few games were notable for their offense, this one was fun simply because of the plot twists (and, I guess, famous helmets) involved.

Florida State 18, Notre Dame 14

FSU Notre Dame FSU Notre Dame
Close % 100.0% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 41.7% 44.3% Success Rate 31.7% 41.2%
Leverage % 68.3% 72.9% PPP 0.23 0.17
S&P 0.552 0.583
TOTAL
EqPts 15.2 9.5 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 35.0% 37.1% Success Rate 42.1% 26.3%
Close PPP 0.25 0.14 PPP 0.29 0.04
Close S&P 0.603 0.507 S&P 0.714 0.304
RUSHING TURNOVERS
EqPts 3.4 5.6 Number 1 3
Close Success Rate 29.2% 41.9% Turnover Pts 8.4 16.6
Close PPP 0.14 0.18 Turnover Pts Margin +8.2 -8.2
Close S&P 0.432 0.599
Line Yards/carry 2.94 2.94 Q1 S&P 0.235 0.435
Q2 S&P 0.409 0.133
PASSING Q3 S&P 0.797 0.939
EqPts 11.8 3.9 Q4 S&P 0.879 0.413
Close Success Rate 38.9% 33.3%
Close PPP 0.33 0.10 1st Down S&P 0.462 0.367
Close S&P 0.718 0.434 2nd Down S&P 0.945 0.596
SD/PD Sack Rate 9.5% / 20.0% 9.1% / 11.8% 3rd Down S&P 0.393 0.654
Projected Pt. Margin: Florida State +13.9 | Actual Pt. Margin: Florida State +4

Five Thoughts

  1. Fantastic recovery by Florida State. A lot was made out of the ridiculous youth of their offensive line in this game, and in the first quarter it looked like that was exactly what would doom them. They were absolutely dreadful out of the gates, but they recovered and played at a solid level in the second half. Three second-half drives generated 173 of their 290 yards. Of course...

  2. ...FSU still needed some serious assistance from turnovers.

  3. Sacks, sacks galore. Double-digit sack rates on both sides, nine sacks for the game.

  4. Notre Dame was actually rather efficient overall, especially on the ground. But against FSU's athletic defense, they just had no hope of generating easy scores with big plays. They made four trips inside FSU's 40, but the Seminoles' ability to force them to take more plays to score paid off with two interceptions and a missed field goal on those four trips.

  5. One day I will figure out why some teams are either quite a bit better on second downs or quite a bit worse. (I'm looking at you, FSU...)

Quick glossary (complete with national averages) 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.

Field Position %: The percentage of a team's plays run in their opponent's field position. National average: 43%.

Leverage Rate: A team's ratio of standard downs to passing downs. National average: 68%. Anything over 68% means a team did a good job of avoiding being leveraged into passing downs.

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. National average: 0.32.

S&P: Think of this as an OPS (the "On-Base Plus Slugging" baseball measure) for football. The 'S' stands for success rate. The 'P' stands for PPP, an explosiveness measure that stands for EqPts Per Play. 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. National average: 0.747. Standard downs S&P average: 0.787. Passing downs S&P average: 0.636.

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. National Average: 42%.

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