Filed under:

# How do we know Baylor's offense is good? Rethinking total offense and defense rankings

or is Michigan State the #1 defense in the country because it's the best, or because it hasn't played an offense worth a darn yet?

discussion on this thread this week got me thinking about whether there might be a better way to rank teams when we talk about offense and defense.  Here's the posts that did it.

So, a hat tip to SJD183 for inspiring this post.

Here's the problem.  Just as the posters pointed out above, Michigan State's #1 total defense ranking hasn't exactly come against Baylor.  And Baylor's #1 total offense ranking wasn't achieved by playing Michigan State.  It's reasonable to think that Michigan State's and Baylor's #1 rankings are just as much a result of the caliber of offense and defenses they've faced as the actual caliber of their teams.

If only there were a way to go beyond just an yards per game average in a way that might account for the quality of offense or defense a team faced.

### Advanced Stats to the Rescue

Dividing a team's total yards of offense and defense by the opponent's season average yards of defense or offense gives a percentage that shows how many more or fewer yards a team was able to generate (or keep and opponent from generating) in a way that indexes for an opponent's offense or defense quality.

For instance, if Team A generates 500 yards of offense vs Team B, and Team B's season average defense is 300 yards per game, 500/300 = 1.67.  In this case, Team A generated 167% of the expected offense.  If Team C generates 400 yards of offense vs Team D, and Team's D's season average defense is 200 yards per game, Team C generated 200% of the expected offense.

Team A's YPG is 500 and Team C's is 400.  Is Team A's offense better?

Team C generated 200% of expected offense.  Team A generated 167% of expected offense.  Is Team A still better?

By averaging out these percentages for a team's offense and defense, we get a clearer picture of which team's are making the most of the opportunities presented to them regardless of quality of opponent.  Generating the same amount of offense vs a good defensive team will result in a higher percentage than vs a bad defensive team.

The next table ranks the offenses and defenses, thru Week 8, in this way.  Obviously, a higher number is better on offense, and a lower number is better on defense.

Team Offense Team Defense
Baylor 168% Michigan State 60%
Texas A&M 152% Louisville 66%
Oregon 148% Alabama 66%
Indiana 146% Florida 71%
Arizona State 142% Oklahoma 72%
Florida State 141% Cincinnati 72%
Miami (Florida) 132% Florida State 74%
Fresno State 131% Virginia Tech 77%
Clemson 130% UCLA 80%
BYU 126% Memphis 80%
Georgia 126% Oregon State 80%
Missouri 125% Baylor 81%
Illinois 125% Wisconsin 81%
Wisconsin 124% Penn State 81%
Texas Tech 124% Bowling Green 84%
Ohio State 123% East Carolina 86%
UCF 123% South Carolina 86%
North Carolina 121% Western Kentucky 87%
Louisville 121% Texas Tech 87%
Boise State 119% Oregon 88%
Northern Illinois 119% USC 88%
South Carolina 119% Michigan 89%
SMU 118% San Diego State 91%
Marshall 118% North Carolina State 92%
LSU 118% Utah State 93%
Duke 118% Rice 93%
Oklahoma State 116% Stanford 93%
Washington 116% Marshall 93%
Utah 115% BYU 93%
South Alabama 114% Florida Atlantic 94%
San Jose State 114% North Texas 95%
California 114% TCU 95%
Oregon State 114% Georgia Tech 96%
Ball State 114% LSU 96%
Wyoming 113% Boise State 97%
Arizona 112% Iowa 97%
East Carolina 112% Fresno State 97%
Texas 112% Missouri 98%
Troy 112% Oklahoma State 98%
Georgia Tech 112% Minnesota 98%
Western Kentucky 111% Army 98%
Mississippi State 111% Navy 99%
West Virginia 111% Tulane 100%
Kansas State 110% UTSA 101%
Alabama 110% Northern Illinois 101%
Auburn 110% Kansas State 102%
Michigan 110% Arizona 102%
Mississippi 109% Maryland 102%
Maryland 109% Wyoming 102%
Northwestern 108% Buffalo 102%
UCLA 107% Ball State 102%
Notre Dame 107% Texas State 102%
Utah State 106% UTEP 103%
North Carolina State 106% Southern Mississippi 103%
Iowa 105% Vanderbilt 103%
Louisiana-Lafayette 105% Georgia 104%
Oklahoma 105% South Alabama 104%
Penn State 104% Akron 105%
Kentucky 104% Wake Forest 105%
Cincinnati 103% Mississippi State 106%
Stanford 103% Miami (Florida) 107%
Ohio 103% Tulsa 107%
USC 103% Texas 108%
Arkansas State 102% Louisiana Tech 108%
Washington State 102% Notre Dame 109%
Bowling Green 101% Central Michigan 109%
Pittsburgh 101% Arizona State 109%
UTSA 101% Louisiana-Lafayette 110%
Vanderbilt 100% Mississippi 110%
Toledo 99% Duke 110%
Rutgers 99% Washington 110%
UNLV 99% Pittsburgh 111%
Tennessee 99% Connecticut 111%
Colorado State 98% South Florida 111%
Army 98% UNLV 112%
Boston College 97% UCF 112%
Syracuse 96% Clemson 112%
Florida Atlantic 96% SMU 113%
Louisiana Tech 95% Auburn 113%
New Mexico 95% Virginia 113%
Arkansas 94% New Mexico 114%
Temple 94% Hawai'i 114%
Eastern Michigan 93% San Jose State 115%
Tulsa 92% Northwestern 115%
North Texas 92% Ohio 115%
UAB 92% Washington State 115%
Rice 91% Arkansas 118%
Iowa State 91% Western Michigan 119%
UTEP 91% Arkansas State 119%
Connecticut 90% Miami (Ohio) 119%
Virginia 90% Houston 119%
San Diego State 89% Kansas 119%
Virginia Tech 87% Massachusetts 121%
Hawai'i 86% Utah 122%
TCU 86% Florida International 123%
Florida 86% Syracuse 123%
Navy 86% Middle Tennessee 124%
Memphis 86% Idaho 125%
Kent State 86% Troy 125%
Akron 85% Air Force 126%
New Mexico State 85% Tennessee 126%
Michigan State 85% UAB 126%
Middle Tennessee 84% Boston College 127%
Air Force 84% Eastern Michigan 128%
Louisiana-Monroe 84% Kent State 128%
Idaho 82% Purdue 129%
Purdue 82% Georgia State 133%
Tulane 80% Illinois 134%
Wake Forest 80% Temple 134%
Central Michigan 79% Louisiana-Monroe 135%
Western Michigan 76% North Carolina 135%
South Florida 76% California 136%
Minnesota 76% Texas A&M 137%
Southern Mississippi 75% New Mexico State 138%