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Study Hall: Mississippi State 38, Auburn 23

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State 38, Auburn 23

Confused? Visit the Advanced Stats glossary here.

Basics Auburn Mississippi State Nat'l Avg
Total Plays 78 79
Close Rate (non-garbage time) 94.3%
Avg Starting FP 32.7 31.5 29.8
Possessions 15 16
Scoring Opportunities*
7 7
Points Per Opportunity 3.29 5.43 4.70
Leverage Rate** 61.5% 76.0% 68.3%
Close S&P*** 0.500 0.549 0.507
* A scoring opportunity occurs when an offense gets a first down inside the opponent's 40 (or scores from outside the 40).
** Leverage Rate = Standard Downs / (Standard Downs + Passing Downs)
*** When using IsoPPP, the S&P formula is (0.8*Success Rate) + (0.2*IsoPPP)
EqPts (what's this?) Auburn Mississippi State
Total 24.9 31.1
Rushing 11.3 15.9
Passing 13.7 15.2
Success Rate (what's this?) Auburn Mississippi State Nat'l Avg
All (close) 43.5% 48.1% 42.0%
Rushing (close) 44.4% 48.8% 43.4%
Passing (close) 42.4% 47.2% 40.6%
Standard Downs 50.0% 50.0% 47.3%
Passing Downs 28.6% 42.1% 30.6%
IsoPPP (what's this?) Auburn Mississippi State Nat'l Avg
All (close) 0.76 0.82 0.85
Rushing (close) 0.66 0.76 0.73
Passing (close) 0.87 0.90 0.99
Standard Downs 0.60 0.71 0.77
Passing Downs 1.41 1.25 1.14
Line Stats Auburn Mississippi State Nat'l Avg
Line Yards/Carry (what's this?) 3.89 3.03 2.92
Std. Downs Sack Rt. 11.1% 0.0% 4.7%
Pass. Downs Sack Rt. 6.7% 7.1% 7.3%
Turnovers Auburn Mississippi State
Turnovers 4 4
Turnover Points (what's this?) 18.5 16.3
Turnover Margin +0
Exp. TO Margin Auburn +2.19
TO Luck (Margin vs. Exp. Margin) Mississippi State +2.19
TO Points Margin Mississippi State +2.2 points
Situational Auburn Mississippi State
Q1 S&P 0.472 0.628
Q2 S&P 0.516 0.655
Q3 S&P 0.511 0.342
Q4 S&P 0.512 0.492
1st Down S&P 0.500 0.606
2nd Down S&P 0.448 0.389
3rd Down S&P 0.616 0.651
Projected Scoring Margin: Mississippi State by 8.4
Actual Scoring Margin: Mississippi State by 15

What a hot, wet, delicious mess of a football game. Six first-half turnovers, stalled drives, punts ... and a hell of a defensive effort by Mississippi State.

Two specific things won this game for MSU: luck and finishing. The turnovers lucked skewed pretty hard in the Bulldogs' favor here; if the average turnover is worth about five points of field position, MSU benefited by about 11 points by, among other things, recovering six of the game's seven fumbles. Still, they won by 15 because, as I mentioned in the Numerical, they finished drives and Auburn didn't.

MSU turned the tables on Saturday and won the game because of it. Each team had seven scoring opportunities; with five touchdowns, a field goal, and a turnover, MSU averaged 5.4 points on its opportunities. With two touchdowns, four field goal attempts (one missed), and an interception, Auburn averaged just 3.3 points per trip. I'm not sure if "Turn your opponent's strength into your strength" comes directly from Sun Tzu or not, but it worked for Dan Mullen.

When you're the luckier AND better team, good things tend to happen to you.