Turnovers often transform seasons, in both good and bad ways.
Arizona State in 2010, for example. What if the Sun Devils get back one or two of their seven give-aways against Oregon? Or that goal line fumble against Stanford?
And for Oregon: What if Stanford receiver Chris Owusu didn't fumble in the third quarter, setting up the Ducks go-ahead touchdown?
Writes ESPN.com's Jeff Dooley: "In our Eliminator model (which tracks the conference and BCS races based on past statistical benchmarks), turnover margin has proven to be critical to teams' chances of winning. However, the stat is a unique one in that teams' numbers often fluctuate significantly in the category from season to season."
He then lists teams that might see turnover-margin swings, both positively and negatively. He finds that the Sun Devils might be in line for an uptick, while the Ducks could go the other direction.
Arizona State Sun Devils (88th nationally)
The Sun Devils showed flashes of being an impact defense in 2010, with a lockdown run defense and impressive tackles for loss numbers (eighth nationally).
It didn't translate into turnovers, however, as ASU forced just 17 (94th in the country).
Chances are good that this number could increase by a significant margin in 2011.
Oregon Ducks (seventh nationally)
The Ducks were the best BCS conference team in the country at forcing turnovers last season -- and below average in the turnovers lost category.
They'll likely have to do better in the latter, because several of the defensive playmakers responsible for wreaking havoc on offenses last season are no longer with the team.