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Georgia Tech Football: Advanced Stats Review - Ole Miss

Was it really as bad as the score indicated?

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Ed. Note: Once again, the ESPN play-by-play data screwed up, and the advanced stats are not available on Game on Paper. Because of this, we’re going to take a slightly different route with this review.

This past weekend, Georgia Tech fell to 1-2 after losing to Ole Miss 48-23. With the game as close as one possession in the fourth quarter, a lot of Tech fans (myself included) did not feel terrible about the game. Several thought the game was in reach, however briefly, but things just slipped away at the end.

But advanced stats have a way of shedding light on situations. This article is really inspired by a tweet from the guy who used to do these.

PGWE, or Post-Game Win Expectancy, is a rating that was created by Bill Connelly that is based on his “Five Factors.” In short, PGWE looks at the value of those five factors and generates a percentage based on them to determine the likelihood that your team won the game.

The five factors that go into this rating are explosiveness, efficiency, finishing drives, field position, and turnovers. From the man himself:

But over time, I’ve come to realize that the sport comes down to five basic things, four of which you can mostly control. You make more big plays than your opponent, you stay on schedule, you tilt the field, you finish drives, and you fall on the ball. Explosiveness, efficiency, field position, finishing drives, and turnovers are the five factors to winning football games.

- If you win the explosiveness battle (using PPP), you win 86 percent of the time.

- If you win the efficiency battle (using Success Rate), you win 83 percent of the time.

- If you win the drive-finishing battle (using points per trip inside the 40), you win 75 percent of the time.

- If you win the field position battle (using average starting field position), you win 72 percent of the time.

- If you win the turnover battle (using turnover margin), you win 73 percent of the time.

This is from 2013 college football game data. It’s very, very similar from year to year.

These are good odds. And they speak to the fundamentals of football itself. You want to be efficient when you’ve got the ball, because if you fall behind schedule and into passing downs, you’re far less likely to make a good play. You want to eat up chunks of yardage with big plays, because big plays mean both points and fewer opportunities to make mistakes. When you get the opportunity to score, you want to score. And when you give the ball back to your opponent, you want to give them to have to go as far as possible.

And you want that damned, pointy ball to bounce in a favorable way. Again, you control four of the five.

We’ll get to Georgia Tech’s PGWE in a bit, but let’s go through the game first and see if we can understand how close the game actually was. As an aside, I’ll be making some inferences since I don’t have the specific stats to point to for each category.


So in the Five Factors article linked above, Bill C mentions that he uses PPP (points per play). There are other ways to calculate more meaningful numbers, but as far as just straight points per play, Georgia Tech was at 0.258, and Ole Miss was at 0.857.

It’s easy to see that Ole Miss was the far more explosive team in Saturday’s match-up. Just reviewing the box score, Ole Miss rushers had longs of 68, 36, and 21. No Georgia Tech rusher had a run longer than 15. On the passing side, Dart averaged 25 yards a completion. He wasn’t the most efficient (55.6%), but when he made passes, he made them count. For comparison, Haynes King averaged 10.96 yards per completion.


Efficiency is calculated by success rate. A play is considered successful if it meets certain criteria based on the down:

  • 50% of needed yards on first down
  • 70% of needed yards on second down
  • 100% of needed yards on third or fourth down.

Overall, Georgia Tech did move the ball efficiently. I have the success rates calculated below by quarter (note: I hand-calculated these based on the play-by-play on Tech’s final stats PDF, so it may not be completely perfect).

1st Quarter: 44.4% (rushing), 33.3% (passing), 38.9% (total)

2nd Quarter: 47.1% (rushing), 37.5% (passing), 50% (total)

3rd Quarter: 41.7% (rushing), 42.9% (passing), 42.1% (total)

4th Quarter: 41.7% (rushing), 61.1% (passing), 53.3% (total)

Totals: 44.7% (rushing), 50% (passing), 47.1% (total)

Now, these numbers aren’t bad. The first quarter is a little low. But let’s compare those numbers to Ole Miss.

1st Quarter: 83.3% (rushing), 33.3% (passing), 73.3% (total)

2nd Quarter: 66.7% (rushing), 20% (passing), 37.5% (total)

3rd Quarter: 45.5% (rushing), 50% (passing), 46.2% (total)

4th Quarter: 50% (rushing), 75% (passing), 58.3% (total)

Totals: 62.2% (rushing), 35% (passing), 52.6% (total)

Ole Miss had a dominant first quarter rushing successfully on 10 or 12 plays. And then they started passing just as soon as they needed to. Overall, though, Ole Miss moved the ball more efficiently.

Drive Finishing

Drive finishing is pretty simple. Bill C looks at points per trip inside the 40-yard line (to better incorporate field goals). Going through the drive chart, I found something interesting. Georgia Tech and Ole Miss both have two drives where they got inside the 40 and did not score.

The difference comes from how many times each team got inside the 40. Georgia Tech got inside the 40 on 6 drives and scored on 4 (66.7% finish rate). Ole Miss got inside the 40 on 10 drives and scored on 8 (80% finish rate).

Field Position

Field position is also pretty simple. It just looks at the average starting field position on a drive.

On average, Georgia Tech started at its own 24.5-yard line and started 0 drives in Ole Miss territory. Ole Miss started on its own 39-yard line and started 3 drives in Georgia Tech territory. So on average per drive, Ole Miss had about a 15-yard advantage.


Georgia Tech had one fumble in the game, but recovered it, so there were no turnovers in the entire game (aside from turnover on downs or blocked field goals).

Post-Game Win Expectancy

So Georgia Tech did not have a single advantage in any of the five factors that go into Post-Game Win Expectancy. Now, I’m certain it’s more complicated than this, but based on this, I believe it’s reasonable to assume that Georgia Tech would not perform well in PGWE. If you thought the same thing, well, you would be right.

Georgia Tech finished with a PGWE of 0%. Obviously, that’s not great. But I don’t think that means that all hope is lost. There are a few things we can point to that we can see where things went wrong.

First of all, allowing a team to pass your 40-yard line almost twice as many times as you cross theirs is a problem that is indicative of both the offense and the defense. Sure, Tech’s defense could have prevented them more, or Tech’s offense could have done more. Well, it’s both, but I want to focus on the offense. I’m typing this before I calculate the numbers, but I would be willing to guess that Georgia Tech’s offensive failings are due to a low success rate after 1st down.

Now, let me crunch some numbers.

[Insert Rocky-style training montage]

Although it isn’t as drastic as I expected, Georgia Tech’s offense did struggle slightly on later downs. From watching the game and now looking through the drive chart, it seems like Tech just kept stalling out before they could move the ball. As shown by the success rate, they didn’t do a poor job of moving the ball efficiently (i.e., successful plays), but there were certain times they struggled, specifically with 3rd downs in the 4th quarter. They didn’t convert a 3rd down in the 4th until the second-to-last play of the game.

The other main issue comes from explosive plays. Sure, Tech did well moving the ball, but they weren’t able to get big chunks of yardage.

So was the game as close as it seemed to be when Tech was within a score? Although it seems like things got away from Tech in the 4th quarter, they also didn’t play poorly (outside of 3rd downs). What I will say is this: I think the game was certainly closer at the beginning of the 4th quarter, but I don’t think I would say that it was close enough, though. Georgia Tech still has a lot of work to do, especially on defense, but I think this team has also made a lot of progress over the last few years.