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College football turnovers luck in 2014

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Once again, the ball does sometimes lie.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

By this point, we've talked a lot about turnovers luck through the years. I reference it each year in my preseason preview series, and I figure most of the concepts are pretty easy to understand.

The concepts are pretty simple: Over time, you're going to recover about 50 percent of all fumbles, but in a given year, you might recover 70 percent, or you might recover 30. The same goes with passes defensed; on average, you can expect to intercept about 22 percent of the passes you defense. (Passes defensed = interceptions + break-ups.) This is a bit mushier a concept ... but over time a particularly butter-fingered year will be balanced by a sticky one.

The way I measure turnovers luck is pretty simple: how far were you from 50% with your fumble recoveries? How far were you from ~21-22% in your interceptions-to-breakups, offensively and defensively? By looking at broader numbers, we can basically create an expected turnover margin (called Adj. TO Margin below) and compare it to the real margin. The difference becomes your Turnovers Luck for the season. On average, a turnover is worth about five points in terms of field position value, so I take the difference between turnovers and expected turnovers, multiply it by five, divide it by games played, and voila: Turnovers Luck Per Game.

In 2013, Houston nearly broke the scale, averaging more than eight points per game in turnovers luck. In 2014, the luck regressed, the results faded, and the head coach got fired.

In 2013, Oklahoma recovered 68.8% of all fumbles in their games and went 7-0 in games decided by 14 or fewer points. In 2014, the Sooners recovered 38.7% of fumbles and went 3-3 in such games. From the post linked above:

The Sooners were quite good (lucky) at falling on the bouncy, pointy ball this past season, and it helped them to win an improbable 11 games. They were 3-0 in one-possession games and 7-0 in games decided by 14 or fewer points. They recovered all three fumbles against Oklahoma State (two of theirs, one of OSU's) in a game in which they trailed until the final 20 seconds, and they recovered all four fumbles against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, taking one of Bama's back for a touchdown. OU played well in tight games, but the Sooners got help. (You might want to remember that when you're getting ready to put OU in your preseason top 5 this coming year. You know you're going to, and you know you're probably making a mistake.)

In 2013, Utah was waylaid by more than five points per game in bad turnovers luck and lost five games by 12 or fewer points. In 2014, the Utes' turnovers luck went back toward neutral, and they improved from 5-7 to 9-4.

These things don't always matter, but they can sometimes make the difference between an average season and a great/terrible one; they can get coaches raises, or they can get coaches fired. And heading into 2015, they might provide us with a pretty tenuous glimpse at TCU's potential national title hopes. The Horned Frogs are likely to be consensus top-5 picks next year, returning a ton of talent from a 12-1 team. But interceptions, caught by their defense and dropped by opposing defenses, may have gone a little too far in their favor to replicate next fall.

Meanwhile, teams like Washington, Michigan State, and Oregon may have been a little too fortunate in falling on fumbles, just as teams like Oklahoma State and West Virginia may have been a little too unfortunate in that regard.

Here's a look at 2014's turnovers luck, color-coded through each primary category -- fumble recovery percentage (mean = 50%), interception-to-PBU ratio for offense and defense, etc. -- and sorted by 2014 turnovers luck per game.

Team FR% Off %INT Def %INT TO Margin Adj. TO Margin Diff. 2014 TO Luck
(Per Game)
2013 TO Luck
(Per Game)
Change
TCU 56.0% 15.3% 33.3% 18 1.5 16.5 6.34 0.85 5.48
Florida International 63.3% 17.5% 29.8% 11 -1.4 12.4 5.15 -1.39 6.54
Arizona State 64.9% 15.3% 28.0% 14 1.8 12.2 4.69 3.03 1.67
Louisiana Tech 54.7% 17.1% 28.3% 16 4.2 11.8 4.23 0.61 3.62
Washington 64.4% 12.8% 20.3% 12 0.4 11.6 4.14 -0.93 5.07
Michigan State 65.7% 18.8% 26.9% 19 8.7 10.3 3.95 1.39 2.57
Louisville 36.1% 14.1% 33.8% 4 -5.6 9.6 3.69 2.44 1.26
Ball State 55.3% 11.7% 23.3% 9 0.6 8.4 3.49 5.21 -1.71
Georgia 58.7% 17.6% 28.6% 16 6.9 9.1 3.49 -1.58 5.08
Kentucky 54.5% 14.9% 24.2% 8 -0.3 8.3 3.46 1.34 2.13
Ole Miss 51.4% 21.7% 35.5% 7 -1.8 8.8 3.39 2.42 0.97
Miami-OH 52.6% 13.9% 22.9% 2 -4.9 6.9 2.87 2.41 0.47
Duke 56.8% 13.3% 20.0% 6 -0.8 6.8 2.63 -1.76 4.39
Oregon 68.1% 10.3% 15.5% 23 15.3 7.7 2.57 2.25 0.31
Baylor 58.5% 15.4% 21.3% 13 6.6 6.4 2.45 2.32 0.12
California 45.5% 13.2% 23.5% -3 -8.7 5.7 2.36 -0.88 3.24
Northern Illinois 43.9% 6.0% 24.1% 12 5.4 6.6 2.35 0.03 2.32
Western Kentucky 51.3% 16.7% 27.7% 5 -1.0 6.0 2.33 -2.18 4.51
Troy 48.1% 13.8% 32.4% 4 -1.3 5.3 2.21 -4.72 6.93
Iowa State 60.9% 14.3% 16.4% 0 -4.8 4.8 2.00 -2.62 4.63
South Florida 62.2% 22.4% 21.4% 0 -4.7 4.7 1.96 0.43 1.54
Northwestern 52.6% 19.4% 25.4% 4 -0.6 4.6 1.90 -1.04 2.94
Texas State 53.6% 23.3% 31.7% 7 2.5 4.5 1.89 1.03 0.86
Utah State 55.8% 19.3% 23.2% 9 4.0 5.0 1.79 2.30 -0.51
Georgia Southern 53.8% 19.0% 26.0% 8 3.8 4.2 1.73 0.43 1.31
Team FR% Off %INT Def %INT TO Margin Adj. TO Margin Diff. 2014 TO Luck
(Per Game)
2013 TO Luck
(Per Game)
Change
South Carolina 52.8% 17.7% 23.9% -2 -6.2 4.2 1.63 3.54 -1.91
North Carolina 61.5% 22.0% 21.8% 0 -4.2 4.2 1.60 -1.07 2.67
Kansas State 50.0% 17.4% 25.0% 8 4.1 3.9 1.50 -3.02 4.52
Arkansas 55.3% 12.2% 16.7% 7 3.6 3.4 1.31 -2.14 3.44
Tulane 51.4% 24.7% 30.9% 3 -0.1 3.1 1.30 0.38 0.93
Arkansas State 44.4% 15.7% 26.7% 6 2.6 3.4 1.29 -1.76 3.05
Ohio State 41.9% 22.2% 31.3% 7 3.2 3.8 1.26 -1.28 2.55
Kansas 68.9% 25.0% 15.5% 3 0.0 3.0 1.25 0.91 0.35
Nevada 60.7% 20.0% 20.6% 11 7.9 3.1 1.21 2.85 -1.64
Clemson 52.6% 18.8% 22.6% 6 2.9 3.1 1.20 1.54 -0.34
Minnesota 51.0% 18.0% 23.1% 10 7.0 3.0 1.17 -0.77 1.94
North Texas 52.5% 23.2% 28.6% 0 -2.8 2.8 1.15 1.35 -0.20
East Carolina 40.5% 13.8% 22.2% -4 -6.9 2.9 1.13 3.14 -2.01
Southern Miss 61.0% 20.8% 16.7% -10 -12.7 2.7 1.12 -4.27 5.39
Colorado State 50.0% 13.5% 19.7% 2 -0.9 2.9 1.10 -1.26 2.36
Memphis 49.0% 18.4% 24.3% 11 8.2 2.8 1.06 -1.51 2.57
Bowling Green 56.5% 18.8% 19.3% 10 7.2 2.8 1.00 2.53 -1.54
UCLA 50.0% 13.6% 19.6% 0 -2.3 2.3 0.89 2.03 -1.14
Georgia Tech 47.5% 23.1% 27.3% 11 8.7 2.3 0.83 -1.11 1.94
UTEP 51.4% 16.7% 21.6% 9 6.9 2.1 0.81 -1.46 2.28
Temple 63.5% 28.6% 20.0% 3 1.1 1.9 0.81 -0.78 1.59
Houston 50.0% 28.8% 31.7% 8 5.9 2.1 0.80 8.16 -7.36
UL-Monroe 41.7% 14.0% 23.9% -1 -2.7 1.7 0.70 -2.23 2.92
Boise State 52.6% 30.6% 28.6% 7 5.1 1.9 0.67 0.38 0.29
Auburn 25.0% 13.2% 31.9% 7 5.6 1.4 0.54 -0.19 0.73
Team FR% Off %INT Def %INT TO Margin Adj. TO Margin Diff. 2014 TO Luck
(Per Game)
2013 TO Luck
(Per Game)
Change
San Diego State 58.1% 25.9% 24.1% 4 2.7 1.3 0.51 -1.57 2.08
Stanford 45.2% 17.4% 24.5% -5 -6.2 1.2 0.46 -2.13 2.59
Toledo 56.3% 17.0% 16.4% -3 -4.2 1.2 0.46 0.41 0.05
Indiana 48.3% 18.4% 21.7% -2 -3.1 1.1 0.44 -3.99 4.43
Texas 39.5% 18.3% 27.8% -3 -4.1 1.1 0.42 -0.62 1.04
Oregon State 41.2% 14.5% 22.0% 4 3.1 0.9 0.36 4.25 -3.89
Tennessee 48.6% 24.6% 27.1% 2 1.1 0.9 0.34 -0.25 0.59
Ohio 47.2% 15.0% 18.5% -4 -4.8 0.8 0.33 -0.30 0.64
Akron 45.2% 18.7% 22.8% -2 -2.6 0.6 0.25 -0.24 0.49
LSU 61.0% 19.6% 14.7% 3 2.4 0.6 0.25 -2.73 2.97
NC State 50.0% 13.3% 16.7% 5 4.4 0.6 0.24 0.69 -0.45
Notre Dame 50.0% 28.6% 29.1% -3 -3.6 0.6 0.22 -0.15 0.38
Utah 52.5% 17.8% 18.5% 5 4.4 0.6 0.22 -5.26 5.47
UTSA 58.1% 21.4% 16.4% -3 -3.5 0.5 0.21 -1.77 1.98
UL-Lafayette 51.9% 20.5% 20.6% 3 2.5 0.5 0.18 0.53 -0.36
Air Force 44.1% 14.3% 22.7% 1 0.6 0.4 0.17 -1.97 2.14
Iowa 28.1% 12.7% 27.1% -6 -6.4 0.4 0.14 -1.14 1.27
Idaho 54.2% 27.0% 36.4% -11 -10.9 -0.1 -0.04 -0.07 0.03
Hawaii 36.6% 17.3% 26.8% -7 -6.8 -0.2 -0.09 -1.03 0.94
Western Michigan 63.2% 22.7% 15.7% 3 3.4 -0.4 -0.16 -2.43 2.26
USC 47.1% 12.5% 17.7% 11 11.4 -0.4 -0.17 0.88 -1.05
Cincinnati 59.5% 20.9% 14.0% 2 2.6 -0.6 -0.23 -2.84 2.61
Army 40.7% 18.2% 25.0% 2 2.6 -0.6 -0.25 -0.03 -0.23
Rice 58.6% 16.0% 13.0% 8 8.7 -0.7 -0.26 0.34 -0.60
New Mexico 47.7% 23.1% 23.4% 1 1.7 -0.7 -0.28 -1.99 1.71
Team FR% Off %INT Def %INT TO Margin Adj. TO Margin Diff. 2014 TO Luck
(Per Game)
2013 TO Luck
(Per Game)
Change
Massachusetts 42.4% 18.3% 20.7% -6 -5.1 -0.9 -0.37 -1.02 0.65
Kent State 56.7% 27.0% 23.5% -4 -3.0 -1.0 -0.46 0.59 -1.05
Missouri 47.6% 20.0% 19.7% 9 10.4 -1.4 -0.51 3.64 -4.15
Boston College 61.9% 34.5% 21.4% 1 2.4 -1.4 -0.52 -1.99 1.47
Virginia 54.8% 22.2% 18.3% 5 6.3 -1.3 -0.56 0.00 -0.56
BYU 51.9% 19.0% 16.9% -1 0.5 -1.5 -0.57 -1.15 0.58
Wyoming 54.3% 19.6% 9.7% -2 -0.5 -1.5 -0.61 -0.09 -0.52
Florida Atlantic 41.9% 11.6% 15.1% -3 -1.2 -1.8 -0.73 -0.72 -0.01
Arizona 42.2% 18.2% 21.3% 8 10.0 -2.0 -0.73 2.17 -2.90
Nebraska 51.1% 25.5% 20.3% -2 0.3 -2.3 -0.89 -2.56 1.66
Navy 33.3% 22.7% 30.2% -4 -1.4 -2.6 -1.00 2.84 -3.84
Mississippi State 44.7% 17.6% 18.0% 0 2.6 -2.6 -1.01 4.60 -5.61
Tulsa 44.0% 21.7% 20.0% -8 -5.5 -2.5 -1.05 -2.01 0.96
Appalachian State 41.2% 27.5% 27.9% -2 0.8 -2.8 -1.17 3.37 -4.54
Central Florida 42.2% 23.1% 23.7% -1 2.1 -3.1 -1.17 -1.28 0.10
Virginia Tech 50.0% 24.2% 19.4% -4 -0.8 -3.2 -1.23 0.39 -1.61
Wake Forest 56.8% 22.2% 12.0% -2 0.9 -2.9 -1.23 -2.63 1.40
New Mexico State 57.6% 37.5% 39.3% -13 -10.0 -3.0 -1.26 0.86 -2.12
UNLV 54.8% 25.3% 18.4% -8 -4.7 -3.3 -1.27 -1.70 0.43
Illinois 50.0% 22.2% 15.6% -3 0.3 -3.3 -1.27 -2.20 0.94
Purdue 52.9% 26.2% 19.6% -5 -2.0 -3.0 -1.27 1.19 -2.46
SMU 47.5% 20.9% 15.4% -14 -10.8 -3.2 -1.35 -0.59 -0.76
Old Dominion 55.6% 26.7% 15.2% -1 2.5 -3.5 -1.46
Penn State 32.1% 23.1% 25.0% -5 -1.1 -3.9 -1.50 -1.49 -0.02
Central Michigan 39.0% 21.7% 22.6% -5 -0.9 -4.1 -1.58 -1.55 -0.03
Team FR% Off %INT Def %INT TO Margin Adj. TO Margin Diff. 2014 TO Luck
(Per Game)
2013 TO Luck
(Per Game)
Change
Florida State 50.0% 26.3% 20.6% -6 -1.5 -4.5 -1.62 3.92 -5.54
Maryland 59.0% 25.0% 13.2% 0 4.2 -4.2 -1.63 0.97 -2.61
Pittsburgh 40.0% 20.0% 18.9% -5 0.0 -5.0 -1.92 -3.17 1.24
Syracuse 61.8% 36.2% 17.4% -1 4.0 -5.0 -2.08 0.05 -2.12
Texas A&M 56.3% 24.2% 10.2% -7 -1.6 -5.4 -2.08 -0.17 -1.91
Michigan 50.0% 26.5% 15.6% -16 -10.5 -5.5 -2.28 3.12 -5.40
Fresno State 51.4% 27.6% 17.3% -7 -0.4 -6.6 -2.36 0.65 -3.01
Wisconsin 55.8% 34.0% 13.6% -9 -1.9 -7.1 -2.53 -0.34 -2.19
Rutgers 48.6% 29.5% 15.9% -2 4.7 -6.7 -2.58 -4.96 2.38
West Virginia 26.8% 17.9% 22.2% -15 -7.8 -7.2 -2.79 0.86 -3.65
Florida 47.9% 32.6% 20.5% 6 12.7 -6.7 -2.79 -0.07 -2.72
UAB 48.3% 27.9% 15.5% -2 4.8 -6.8 -2.84 0.47 -3.31
Buffalo 63.3% 23.1% 3.6% -3 3.8 -6.8 -3.09 3.44 -6.53
Marshall 43.2% 28.9% 18.3% -2 6.7 -8.7 -3.12 0.68 -3.80
Alabama 39.5% 22.7% 15.3% -2 7.1 -9.1 -3.26 -2.85 -0.41
Miami-FL 42.6% 25.0% 16.1% -1 7.7 -8.7 -3.36 0.67 -4.03
Washington State 48.0% 23.1% 6.8% -17 -8.6 -8.4 -3.50 0.58 -4.08
San Jose State 48.6% 31.8% 14.0% -12 -3.5 -8.5 -3.53 -2.25 -1.27
Colorado 53.8% 24.6% 6.1% -10 -1.4 -8.6 -3.58 -2.30 -1.27
Texas Tech 46.2% 22.0% 10.2% -13 -4.2 -8.8 -3.67 -1.69 -1.99
Middle Tennessee 42.1% 38.2% 21.0% -4 5.1 -9.1 -3.80 2.16 -5.96
Oklahoma State 34.8% 32.7% 19.7% -8 2.5 -10.5 -4.04 1.68 -5.73
Eastern Michigan 37.2% 26.2% 14.3% -18 -7.3 -10.7 -4.45 -0.80 -3.66
Oklahoma 38.7% 33.3% 18.2% -5 6.8 -11.8 -4.56 2.71 -7.27
South Alabama 52.8% 36.2% 10.5% -7 5.3 -12.3 -4.74 1.07 -5.81
Vanderbilt 41.7% 29.7% 14.0% -16 -4.3 -11.7 -4.89 -2.94 -1.95
Connecticut 28.6% 32.4% 19.5% -13 -0.5 -12.5 -5.22 -1.16 -4.06
Georgia State 41.7% 36.0% 10.0% -22 -8.1 -13.9 -5.80 1.53 -7.34