Big Ten teams FEI

I wrote a script to collect Football Insider's FEI data for all Big Ten teams and thought I would post it on OTE each week for y'alls perusal.

If you aren't familiar with FEI, it is an opponent adjusted estimate of per-possession efficiency.  Basically, given the circumstances of the possession, what were you expected to get out of it, and what did you actually get out of it.  You can read more about it here:

A few notes on the data:

  • Note that the third column is "FBS" wins/losses, not total wins/losses, so games against FCS chumps aren't even considered in the data.
  • The GE column is basically FEI without adjusting for opponent strength.  The difference is most apparent in MSU's column with their blowout win against their one FBS opponent (who happens to rank 114 out of 120 FBS schools in terms of FEI).
  • SOS is strength of schedule of course, but they calculate it a bit differently than you may be used to.  You can read more about that here.
  • FBS MW is the number of games in theory that the team is expected to win if it plays all it's games.  NOTE: This does NOT take existing results into consideration, it just compares FEI between all opponents, so at the end of the season a team's FBS MW can often be different than their actual number of wins.
  • FBS RMW is the number of remaining games they are expected to win.  If you trust FEI as a good metric, then you could estimate a team's expected wins as their current number of actual wins plus their number of expected remaining wins.  Like FBS MW, this seems to be a straight head-to-head comparison of FEI against the remaining teams on their schedule.
And now for the data!
8 Wisconsin 2-0 .216 11 .730 2 .331 68 9.3 7.3
12 Ohio State 2-0 .205 6 .248 20 .238 38 9.7 7.7
18 Michigan 2-0 .149 23 .190 25 .304 62 9.0 7.4
23 Nebraska 1-0 .130 28 .133 36 .220 32 7.3 6.3
31 Iowa 0-1 .108 29 -.032 67 .395 80 7.5 6.6
32 Michigan State 1-0 .089 43 .648 4 .160 20 6.0 5.0
33 Penn State 0-1 .089 31 -.243 97 .128 14 6.1 6.0
45 Illinois 1-0 .050 45 .314 14 .345 72 6.0 5.1
49 Northwestern 1-0 .043 47 .080 44 .362 74 6.0 5.4
70 Minnesota 0-2 -.048 59 -.058 73 .243 40 3.3 2.4
84 Purdue 1-1 -.086 72 .005 59 .210 30 3.1 1.8
101 Indiana 0-2 -.118 102 -.062 74 .204 28 2.6 1.8


Some notes on the data:


It's no surprise that Wisconsin takes the top position, as they've had two blowout wins (one of which was a pretty bad BCS school, but still a BCS school).  OSU coming so close behind is a bit strange since the only team they blew out (Akron) has the 5th worst FEI in the FBS, and their FEI numbers could not have been good against Toledo.  I think it is best explained by the fact that until week 7, data from last years FEI ratings is mixed in with the current year to provide some kind of continuity.

WTF is Michigan doing rated so high?  They were top 25 after Week 1 as well, when they had three lackluster quarters against a truly awful opponent?  They've got the only win against a team currently in the top 25 so I guess that could explain it, but we'll see how things play out for them from here.

Iowa's loss to a crappy Big Twelve team is apparently worth more than Michigan State's evisceration of an injured kitten.  It's difficult to compare those things, which is why we use data like this in the first place but that definitely smells a bit fishy.  If MSU pulls out the win against ND this weekend, they will probably move up considerably.

Strength of Schedule

Penn State has the toughest SOS at #14, probably due entirely to their sacrifice to Alabama last weekend.  MSU follows close behind ranked at #20, and I suspect if there were a conference-only SOS rank they would have the toughest for sure.  Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa all have ridiculously easy SOSes.

Expected Wins

This is where things get murky at this point.  According to this data, Michigan will dominate the Legends division while analyst favorites Nebraska and MSU will go 7-5 and 6-6 respectively.  

What does it all mean?

Not much really, but it is much better than discussing silly stats like total yards gained, etc.  It is especially not very useful when half the conference has only one game's worth of data to go by.  Hopefully we'll get a clearer picture in the next couple weeks, and by mid-season they start releasing Offensive/Defensive FEI numbers that will provide a little more detail.

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