2013: What should have happened in the Coastal

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We all know that Duke won the Coastal Division in 2013. But should that have ever happened? The advanced stats say no, and in fact, it should not have even been close.

Athlon Sports is using advanced stats in their preview this year. According to Athlon, there are five key factors to winning football games.

1: Field position. This is simply average starting field position for a team and their opponents.

2: Finishing drives: Points per trip inside the opponent’s 40, and vice versa.

3: Turnovers: Not just turnover margin, but as Athlon puts it, “you can also look into the right field position and points immediately created by those turnovers if you want to get a little bit more accurate.” Athlon also takes into account the “luck” factor in turnovers, such as what a team’s turnover margin would have been with an average number of fumble recoveries (50%, of course), and taking a closer view of interceptions (normally a team averages one interception for every four pass break-ups).

4: Efficiency: In short, efficiency is a team’s ability to pick up first downs in 3-4 plays.

5: Explosiveness: There are different levels of explosiveness, such as PPP, which measures the equivalent point value of every play by assigning a point value to every yard line. Isolated PPP “looks at the point value of a team’s successful plays.” Etc.

Does a lot of that sound complicated? Yeah. But since we don’t have to actually worry about doing the math ourselves, it’s a lot more fun. I look at advanced stats in baseball quite a bit, even though I don’t have a great understanding of them.

Once we look at the advanced stats, we’ll see that Duke had no business winning the Coastal Division last season.

Athlon gives each team in the country an offensive and defensive rank, and then a margin rank based on the difference between the offensive and defensive rank. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll just include each team’s margin rank in each category.

For example: Miami’s offense averaged starting on the 31.1 yard line. Their opponents averaged starting on the 27 yard line. That’s a +4.1 margin in field position for Miami, and that margin ranked #26 in the nation.

Got the idea? Let’s go. Here are the teams in the Coastal Division,