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FSU Advanced Stats Preview

Taking an in-depth look at the stats behind this week's matchup.

Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State is 47-3 in their last 50 games. They haven't lost an ACC game since October 6th, 2012. They recruit lights out. They replaced a Heisman winning quarterback with a Heisman contending running back. Their turnover machine of a quarterback hasn't turned the ball over yet this season. And yet, the stats behind this week's offense somehow make Tech seem like even more of an underdog in this game. Take those shoes out for a run because they need to be tired for this.

Computer Models

Model GT Rank FSU Rank
S&P+ 55th 7th
FEI 59th 21st
FPI 28th 15th
MELLS 66th 4th

All the models favor FSU, by like, a lot. There really isn't any other way to slice it. FSU's offense and defense are rated better than either of Georgia Tech's units by every model as well, except FEI which rates GT's offense better than FSU's defense.

Model Predictions
Model GT Points FSU Points GT Win Probability
Vegas* 25 31.5 32.3%
S&P+ 25.8 34.8 30%
FEI 21 34 21%
FPI* - -2.8 43.8%
MELLS** 34.7 24.6 39%

(*) FPI predicts a point spread, Vegas is implied from the odds.

(**) MELLS has a quick explainer at the bottom of this post.

Needless to say, doesn't look so hot. Although, even at 30-40% Tech can still easily win this game. Quick, think of a number between 1 and 100; if it's less than 35 Tech just won the game, woohoo, Math!!

When Georgia Tech Has The Ball


  • Georgia Tech's rushing offense is still good, not great, but still good. We are ranked 25th in the country in rushing offense according to MELLS and 10th according to S&P+. We have done better than our opponent's average rushing performance allowed in every game but Notre Dame and UNC. And our passing offense is it's typical low-efficiency high-explosive offense, though a little less explosive than normal.
  • FSU's defense is doing pretty damn great this year. I have them top 20 in both passing and rushing defense this year. S&P+ is a little more sour on their passing defense (33rd in the country)
  • An area of concern for Tech is allowing sacks. Georgia Tech is 95th in adjusted sack rate while FSU's defense is 46th. While our offense ranks 10th in adjusted line yards (a measure of rushing consistency credited to the offensive line) we only rank 99th in gaining first downs on 3rd or 4th and short. FSU ranks 15th in that measure, so don't plan on consistently gaining short yardage against this defense.

When FSU Has The Ball


  • Those matchups where they talk about strength on strength? This ain't that. FSU's rushing offense is number 4 according to MELLS and number 1 according to S&P+. Half of S&P+'s rating and all of MELLS is based on an offense's expected points added per play. This is the expected point value gained on each play by how the offense moves the ball. Gaining 5 yards inside the redzone is worth more than gaining 5 yards on your own 20. Here is how FSU's rushing offense has played in each game (in garnett) compared to their opponent's average rushing EPA in their other games (in black):
    As you can see FSU has exceeded their opponent's average EPA allowed in every game played this year, except against Texas State, an FCS team.
  • Georgia Tech's rush defense. Oh man. An FSU fan said it best:
  • Our passing defense isn't much better, well, it's average so maybe that *is* a lot better than our rushing defense. It originally wasn't so bad, we played above average against Notre Dame and Duke. However UNC, Clemson, and Pitt all played basically lights out against us. FSU throws a lot of short passes and hopes for yards after the catch. Georgia tech is 90th in the country in allowing teams to successfully pass the ball, so that will go well.

There are plenty of ways that Georgia Tech wins this game. Dalvin Cook has been nursing a hamstring and could possibly not play if he aggravates it more. Everett Golson could revert back to his old ways with some timely fumbles. Georgia Tech's offense could suddenly start to click and this could turn into a shoot out. But if these teams play like they have played all season I just don't see anyway Georgia Tech can win this game. And that may be the best we can do this year.

** MELLS Explanation: MELLS (Multilevel Expected points - Linear Least Squares) is my predictive model that predicts the number of points scored in a given matchup and the variance of that prediction to generate the entire range of possible points scored by an offense. It does this using a team's opponent adjusted running and passing values for their offense and defense as well as their opponent's values. The opponent adjusted values are estimated by a multilevel (hierarchical) model that tries to separate the contribution of expected points added on each play by the offense and defense. In addition preseason estimates are given the weight of one game, so after 7 games for Georgia Tech the preseason projections are worth 12.5% (well, not exactly but close enough) of our values. I'll have a full explainer up in the offseason at the latest.