The Spread, Week Seven: Yo, VIP, Let’s Not Kick It

DROPPING SCIENCE

You’ve no doubt noticed The Best Damn Band In The Land getting tons of national (and international) love for their astounding tribute to video games (this link is HD and includes Script Ohio featuring Nebraska’s idiot kicker). You may have even noticed the two halves of football that surrounded this giant leap forward in the history of mankind. If so, you definitely enjoyed another game full of Buckeye touchdowns.

And no field goals.

Ohio State is currently ranked 124th (out of 124) in field goal attempts per game. We’ve lined up to kick just twice in six games. Both of those were situations when the game was tight and points appeared to be at a premium. Not surprisingly, they occurred in two of the Buckeyes’ lowest-scoring games of the year.

I did a little research and I feel comfortable in saying that I believe it is a goal of Urban Meyer and Tom Herman to eliminate field goals entirely at Ohio State. In his ten years as a head coach at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, Meyer’s teams averaged just under 15 FG attempts per season (teams for which Herman served as OC had 16). In those same ten years, Jim Tressel’s Ohio State teams averaged 24.5. And guess what? Meyer’s teams just over 55 TDs (Herman: 43) a year, while Tressel’s turned in 41.5. So what? Tressel and Meyer had virtually the same winning percentage during that span, so I’ve basically proven nothing, right?

You don’t really think that’s where this is going, do you?

I’ll admit that my research on this is in the early phases, but take a look at the top five teams in terms of TD/FGA differential from last year:

1. Houston

2. Oregon

3. Wisconsin

4. Boise State

5. Baylor

Those teams averaged nearly 12 wins in 2011. The top ten teams averaged almost 11 wins. The top 20 averaged ten. In contrast, the bottom 20 teams averaged around 4.5 wins. You may be tempted to argue that winning naturally produces this imbalance. After all, if you score more points, you’re more likely to win. But Northwestern and Hawai’i (6 wins each) are both in last year’s top 20, while Rutgers and Penn State (9 wins) are in the bottom 20. This seems to suggest (as the Tressel/Meyer comparison does) that there are many ways to win, but aggressively pursuing touchdowns over field goals is in your best interest, and there is a strong correlation between this practice and winning a lot of games.

It sounds obvious, but how many times have you seen a team settle for a field goal to take the lead late in a game and then watch helplessly as the other team marches toward the inevitable game-winning touchdown? Or kick a field goal on their first drive just to “get points on the board?” Or do the same going into halftime? These kicks almost always follow a time-out. What if they had used that time-out to find the perfect end zone play instead?

Here are the top five teams in TD/FGA differential this year:

1. Oregon

2. West Virginia

3. Ohio State

4. Georgia

5. Louisiana Tech

They have one total loss. It belongs to Georgia, who lost to South Carolina. The Gamecocks are #12 on this list.

ON YOUR TELEVISION

The Red River Rivalry could be interesting this year. Texas and Oklahoma are both top 15 teams with just one loss. Too bad the only Big 12 team anyone wants to talk about is West Virginia.

Wisconsin at Purdue is essentially the Leaders Division championship game and that should make every single one of us incredibly sad.

Notre Dame hosts Stanford and another win will solidify the Irish’s resurgence and you are going to really hate sports radio for another seven days.

West Virginia at Texas Tech is virtually guaranteed to be another shootout that the Mountaineers win and you are going to really hate ESPN for another seven days.

 

 

 

Trackbacks

  1. […] out. Last season, I discussed Urban Meyer and Tom Herman’s career-long tendencies to favor touchdowns over field goals. His best teams had a high TD/FG ratio. So far this year, we are again near the bottom of the […]

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