Scoring Offenses and Defenses Ranked Better 2.0 – Pac-12 Edition

As I have thought more about how to better rank offenses and defenses other than just total yards or average points per game, I began to look at percentage of opponents average points scored and given up. I have two issues with my original method of calculating the expected points percentages: 1. the points per game number being used included defensive and special teams scores and 2. it did not take into account the number of plays used to score those points.

Regarding the second problem, if both the blue team and the red team average 45 points per game and their opponents give up an average of 30 points, they both will have an expected offensive scoring percentage of 150%. However, if the blue team runs an average of 85 plays per game and the red team delivers the same results while only running an average of 75 plays per game, we can now see that the red team has a more productive (i.e. better) offense.

Therefore, I have made two major changes to the calculations. First, only offensive points will be figured into the calculations (no defensive or special teams scores). That should have already been done; I just failed to realize it until now. Secondly, the figure will now be an expected percentage of points per play.

By figuring in the number of plays run in addition to the points scored, we’ll get a better idea of actual offensive production regardless of the style of offense. By nature, the fast-paced offenses being played today are going to run more plays and have more opportunities to score points (e.g. Arizona St. ranks 9th in the nation running average of 84 plays per game) while the more power-oriented, ground-and-pound offenses will not run as many plays, but can still be just as effective (e.g. Stanford ranks 115th out of 125 in number of plays run per game with 65).

Considering plays per game also adjusts for blowout wins. Many times, in very lopsided games, the winning team will score most of its points in the first half, then run a significantly fewer number of plays in the second half as they run the ball more often attempting to keep from running up the score.

Without further ado:

Percentage of Expected Points Scored Per Play (SCORING OFFENSE)

TEAM % OF EXP PTS/PLAY OLD METHOD CHANGE IN RK
1 Arizona St 150% 162%
2 Oregon 148% 149%
3 Stanford 123% 108% +6
4 UCLA 113% 115% -1
5 Utah 111% 110% +2
6 Oregon St 110% 112% -2
7 USC 108% 95% +4
8 Washington 104% 112% -3
9 Arizona 102% 110% -1
10 Washington St 92% 112% -4
11 Cal 81% 97% -1
12 Colorado 79% 76%

Percentage of Expected Points Given Up Per Play (SCORING DEFENSE)

TEAM % OF EXP PTS/PLAY OLD METHOD CHANGE IN RK
1 Stanford 60% 58%
2 USC 66% 61%
3 Oregon 71% 76%
4 Washington 74% 76%
5 Utah 78% 78%
6 UCLA 79% 81%
7 Arizona 94% 94%
8 Washington St 100% 103% +2
9 Arizona St 102% 99%
10 Oregon St 107% 99% -2
11 Colorado 121% 121%
12 Cal 122% 122%

I’m assuming that the reason there wasn’t as much change in the defensive numbers is that teams are facing different styles of offense and varying play counts which, by this point in the season, begin to balance each other out.

Combined Difference

TEAM % OF EXP PTS/PLAY OLD METHOD CHANGE IN RK
1 Oregon 77% 73%
2 Stanford 63% 50% +1
3 Arizona St 47% 63% -1
4 USC 42% 34% +2
5 UCLA 35% 35%
6 Utah 33% 32% +1
7 Washington 30% 37% -3
8 Arizona 8% 16%
9 Oregon St 3% 12%
10 Washington St -8% -5% -2
11 Cal -41% -25%
12 Colorado -42% -45%

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