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Football: Pittsburgh Advanced Stats Preview

Taking an in-depth look at this week's matchup between Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh through the eyes of advanced statistics.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Well, here we are. 2-4 and fighting for bowl eligibility. My model gives us about a 30-40 percent chance of making a bowl game right now. Lose another home game, especially to a team other than FSU or UGA, and our bowl streak is basically over.

Computer Ranks

Model GT Rank Pitt Rank
S&P+ 43rd 38th
FEI 36th 39th
FPI 23rd 47th
MELLS 61st 48th

Much more disagreement about the quality of Georgia Tech than Pitt. Why that is? It's probably the difference in how the different models filter out garbage time and adjust for opponent. Tech's raw stats are pretty terrible, but as David Hale points out we have done decently compared to how tough are opposition is:

And in two of our games almost all of our success came when the game was basically out of reach (Clemson and ND).

Model Predictions
Model GT Points Pitt Points GT Win Probability
Vegas 25.5 22 62%
S&P+ 28.2 22.3 63%
FEI 27 25 56%
FPI -9.4 76%
MELLS 30.7 28.3 53%

Make sure your shoes are tired, it's gonna be a close one.

When Georgia Tech Has The Ball


  • Somehow our passing and rushing offense are still supposedly better than average. This is where opponent adjustments come in to play. The following chart shows the percentile of each of our rushing performances this year as ranked by Expected Points Added per Play, which makes up my MELLS model. Georgia Tech's rushing performance is in gold. The black-dashed line is the average Expected Points Added Allowed by the opponent in all games not against Tech. For example our performance against Duke was pretty much crap, ranking as near the 25th percentile of all single game rushing performances this year. Meanwhile Duke's season long rushing EPA allowed is in the top 5% of all defenses this year. This is basically a first order approximation of opponent adjustments. Basically, even though our performance was crap we actually did better than average against Duke.
  • By the same token Pitt's pass defense has been pretty great. My model has them 22nd in the country but they rank 2nd in S&P+ passing defense. It's gonna be tough to get our passing game back on track (currently 39th in the country in S&P+ and 33rd in MELLS) this may not be the game to do it.

When Pitt Has The Ball


  • That rushing I have us as 110th worst in the country. S&P+ has us as the 106th worst rushing defense overall, but 121st in allowing big plays. I'll just remind everyone there are only 127 teams in the FBS this year. We actually have a decent rating in stuffing opponent runs (holding them to 0 or less yards on runs) ranking only 57th in that category. But we are 122nd in Power Success Rate, which measures how often we stop teams form converting 2nd and 3rd and short.
  • Pitt's offense is just, average. Not great at anything, not terrible at anything. Has some good things and some bad.  I wish I had more to offer here but they are just, average.
That's this week. There isn't much to say. Right now our offense is struggling compared to what our expectations were coming in to the season but we aren't playing terrible. Our defense has regressed from how we started but we are playing about where I thought we would coming in to the season. At this point, I'm not sure it's gonna get any better.