Stats & Info: Marshall Thundering Herd

The bowl winners will be ...

December, 19, 2013
With bowl season upon us, we can project the winners of the 35 Football Bowl Subdivision bowl games using the Football Power Index.

FPI is a predictive measure of team strength that uses the elements of team offensive, defensive and special-teams performance (adjusted for opponent) that correlate most with future results.

We can use each team’s FPI and the site of the game (all bowl games are treated as neutral) to calculate the expected point differential in a matchup and the percentage chance of each team winning.

In prior years, FPI has done reasonably well in projecting bowl winners (taking the team with the higher chance as the “winner”), getting about 65 percent of games right since 2004.

There have been some lean years in the past, but FPI has been quite good in the three most recent bowl seasons, accurately projecting 70 percent of winners in those games.

FPI takes into account only a team’s on-field performance to date in the given season. It doesn’t explicitly take into account players who are out with injuries or for other reasons, coaching movement before the bowls or differing levels of motivation that are sometimes thought to exist in bowl games.

In the 2013 regular season, starting with games on Sept. 26, FPI accurately projected 74 percent of winners.

FPI believes there to be a very clear favorite (80 percent or more to win) in four of the five BCS matchups, with Ohio State and Clemson as the most evenly matched BCS opponents.

The projections for all 35 bowl games this season are below. A couple of things that stand out:

The two most-lopsided matchups, according to FPI, involve a Pac-12 team facing a Big 12 opponent from Texas. FPI has Oregon as 91 percent likely to defeat Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl and Arizona State as 91 percent likely to beat Texas Tech in the National University Holiday Bowl.

The most-even matchup, according to FPI, is Kansas State versus Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, with the teams separated by a little more than a point in FPI (the Wildcats are 53 percent favorites). The closest “high-profile” bowl game is the AT&T Cotton Bowl between Oklahoma State and Missouri, with the Cowboys 54 percent likely to win, according to FPI.

The Vizio BCS National Championship is the only bowl game with both teams ranked in the top 10 in FPI. Three other games involve two FPI top-20 teams: Wisconsin-South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl; Oklahoma State-Missouri in the Cotton Bowl and Ohio State-Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl.

Thomas rides hot start to power Ohio St

November, 19, 2012
A look back at some of the more memorable college basketball performances this weekend:

Player of the Weekend – Deshaun Thomas

Deshaun Thomas scored 56 points in the span of two days, leading Ohio State to a pair of wins in the Hall of Fame Tip Off. On Saturday, the junior posted his fourth career double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds against Rhode Island. He followed that up by matching his career high with 31 points against Washington. Thomas connected on his first nine shots to reach 21 points in the first half alone.

Freshman of the Weekend – Marcus Smart

Oklahoma State got a huge boost from Marcus Smart in a 76-56 upset of No. 6 North Carolina State. Smart, who ranked 10th in the ESPN 100, put together perhaps the most complete game by a freshman this season. He scored 20 points and added seven rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and four steals. In fact, it’s been over 10 years since any player reached all five of those numbers in a single game. That was Arizona’s Luke Walton in 2002 against USC, his junior season.

Ugly Stat Line of the Weekend – NC State’s Big Three

On the other end of Oklahoma State’s upset was an erratic performance from NC State’s top three scorers from last season. Scott Wood went 1-for-11 from the field, arguably the worst shooting performance of his career. Lorenzo Brown had more turnovers (seven) than points (six), while managing just one assist. C.J. Leslie scored only two points in 17 minutes before fouling out. The trio, which combined to average 39 PPG last season, combined to score 14 points on 16.0 percent from the field.

Stat Sheet Stuffer – DeAndre Kane

DeAndre Kane went off for 33 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, though Marshall came up short against Hofstra 103-100 in double overtime. It marked the fourth triple-double in school history, with the previous three belonging to Hassan Whiteside. This was the first 30-point, 10-assist, 10-rebound game by a Division I player since Greivis Vasquez in 2009 against North Carolina, and just the fourth such game in the past 15 years.

Comeback of the Weekend – New Mexico

It’s not every day that a team wins a game despite trailing by five with less than 15 seconds remaining. But that’s exactly what happened Sunday at the Paradise Jam. New Mexico trailed George Mason 69-64 when Kendall Williams cut it to two points with a 33-foot prayer. He then stole the inbounds pass, which eventually led to Tony Snell’s game-winning three-pointer with two seconds to go. The final margin represented New Mexico’s only lead of the second half.

CFB fans asked, we answered

September, 28, 2012
Each week, ESPN Stats & Information will answer statistical-related college football questions posed via Twitter (use the hashtag #AskESPNStats). Feel free to send your questions along.

What team has the largest differential between its offensive team rank and defensive team rank? – asked by @SteveGGerken

Marshall is ranked 7th offensively (gaining 561 YPG) and 117th defensively (allowing 509 YPG). The 110 rank difference is the largest in FBS. The 2nd largest differential is Maryland (ranks 116th offensively and 8th defensively in terms of YPG).

What defense has the most red zone stops? – asked by @Ksstl227

BYU has allowed opponents to score on just 37.5 percent of their trips into the red zone, lowest percentage in FBS. In terms of touchdowns, South Carolina has allowed opponents to score a touchdown on 1-of-8 red zone drives (12.5 percent), the lowest percentage in FBS.

What quarterback has the largest increase in completion percentage this year? – asked by @MartyBad

Among quarterbacks that attempted at least 50 passes in 2011, Texas' David Ash has the largest increase in completion percentage from 56.9 percent in 2011 to 76.4 in 2012.

What CFB team has the longest current streak of scoring 40 or more points? – asked by @McNamaraUO

Perhaps it is no coincidence that this question comes from Oregon's assistant athletic director, because the Ducks are indeed tied for the longest active streak of 40-point games. Both Oregon and Baylor are riding seven-game streaks. The longest streak in the BCS era is 12 straight by Texas over 2005 and 2006.

Who was the last college QB to win national championship in his last year, then become the #1 overall draft pick in the spring? – asked by @OneManWarrior12

Just two years ago, Cam Newton pulled off that double. Before him, you have to go back to Notre Dame's Angelo Bertelli in 1944. Also of note, 2005 No. 1 pick Alex Smith led Utah to an undefeated record in his final season.

What is the longest a CFB team has ever gone without being shut out? – asked by @William_2512

BYU holds this honor, going an amazing 361 straight games without being shut out. The streak began in 1975 and lasted 28 years before coming to an end when Utah blanked the Cougars 3-0 in the Holy War.

But Michigan is creeping up on the streak. The Wolverines have the longest active streak at 342 games. It's a streak that began in 1984.

Top NCAA tournament tidbits

March, 11, 2012
The NCAA field of 68 is out and there are plenty of storylines. Let’s take a snapshot look at some of the most interesting nuggets that we compiled today.

On the seedings

  • This is the fourth time Tom Izzo has had a team that is a No. 1 seed. The three previous times, he reached the Final Four (1999-2001). In all, Michigan State has been a No. 1 seed five times (also in 1990)
  • This is the sixth time that Texas has been a double-digit seed in the men's basketball championship. Each of the previous five times, the Longhorns won at least one game in the NCAA tournament.

  • This is the 1st time since 1992 that Connecticut has been seeded ninth or worse in the tournament (No. 9 seed in 1992). The Huskies had played in 14 tournaments since then seeded eighth or better.
Next Level

  • Six of the top 12 teams in tempo (possessions per game) in the NCAA tournament are in the West Region. Brigham Young and Iona play in the first round. Seven teams that led their conference in transition points per game are in that region (Michigan State, Missouri, Marquette, Murray State, Memphis, and Iona).
  • Creighton's matchup with Alabama in the Midwest Region will be a contrast between offensive and defensive efficiency. Creighton averages 117.8 points per 100 possessions, which is second in the nation, while Alabama allows 91.4 points per 100 possessions, which is second in the SEC and 16th in the nation.
  • Virginia Commonwealth forces a turnover on 27.4 percent of its possessions and forces 17.9 turnovers per game this season, both of which are first in the nation. The Rams average 20.4 points per game off turnovers, which is identical to the number of points per game off turnovers that Syracuse scores this season. Syracuse is first among power six conference teams in points per game off turnovers.

  • Florida averages 1.16 points per possession this season (tied for-fourth-highest in nation); Virginia allows 0.88 points per possession (second-lowest in nation).


  • Washington became the first regular-season conference champion from a Power Six conference to not be selected to the NCAA tournament field. The Huskies 14 conference wins are the most of any Power Six team to miss the tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
  • Drexel and Oral Roberts each won 27 games, tied for the second-most by a team that didn’t make the tournament field, since it expanded to 64 teams, one behind Coastal Carolina (28 wins in 2010-11).
  • Marshall had the best RPI for a team that didn’t make the NCAA tournament-- 43.