Last week, By the Advanced Numbers predicted a 27-10 Hokies victory over Boston College. Of the many people who felt the prediction was too generous, all thought Virginia Tech was getting too many points. Needless to say, even that rosy forecast turned out to be far short.
As promised in that column, irrational optimism may now be fully engaged.
The Hokies' struggles against East Carolina over the past decade are well-known by fans, but none of those teams featured the most dynamic offense in the country and a defense that has allowed 0 ppg over the past five days. The national championship is inevitable, but sometimes it takes some time for the numbers to catch up to the obvious, so let's see what the ever-rational statistics say about the contest.
Note: Detailed offense, defense, and special teams ratings are not available until midway through the season. Until that time, "By the Advanced Numbers" is an abbreviated column.
Where the Hokies Season Stands
Virginia Tech is currently 2-1. The actual and predicted score difference and odds of winning each game are:
The odds of each possible regular season win total are now:
In 10,000 simulated seasons, Virginia Tech finished 11-1 twenty-five times. Just sayin'.
Rankings and Computer Predictions
The computer rankings and predictions for each team:
Despite one computer apparently loving a healthy serving of short passes and ranking the Pirates much better than all others, every prediction has Virginia Tech winning the game. What could go wrong? The odds of a 11-point favorite winning are 79.0%.
Next is a look at any overall offensive or defensive advantages:
Somehow the offense's rating dropped this week, and I've been unable to get an answer from the creator of S&P+ on how that could be. The Football Study Hall Advanced Statistical Profile of Virginia Tech indicates that the Boston College game was the 86th percentile of all offense performances for the season. The good news is that the defense has moved up into elite territory, and the Hokies have a large overall advantage.
Who To Watch Out For Against East Carolina
Oh hey, Shane Carden is gone, so who is this year's high-percentage East Carolina passer:
- Senior QB Philip Nelson is completing 79.8% of his passes and has the 24th-highest passer rating in the country. 13 spots behind Jerod Evans. Oh, and he's not a runner either.
- WR Zay Jones had 22 (!) catches last week — many on screens — and leads the country with 24 receptions of 10+ yards.
BONUS! Who NOT to watch out for:
- WR Quay Johnson is 87th in the country in kick return average, but what does it matter because Joey Slye is No. 1 in the country with a 65.7-yard kickoff average and 90% of kicks going for touchbacks.
Statistical Key to the Game
Zay Jones is not the only WR who will get the ball, and as usual with ECU the key will be limiting big plays. The high completion percentage is manageable if the many screens are getting stopped at or near the line. So plays of 10+ yards by the Pirates will be the statistical key to the game.
The Stats that Define Virginia Tech's Season
Revisiting my column from this summer on the stats that will define the season, here is how the Hokies performed thus far (each listed as VT - Opponent):
|Liberty||.40 - .21||22.7 - 25.5||33:42 - 26:18|
|Tennessee||.33 - .71||26.1 - 26.1||31:44 - 28:16|
|Boston College||.64 - 0||27.5 - 26.1||35:15 - 24:45|
I will not value time of possession.
Let's see, how is it this is calculated? Oh yeah...
Computer prediction + emotion - East Carolina WTF factor = Virginia Tech 34, East Carolina 20.
As always a thanks to Football Outsiders, cfbstats.com, and Minitab Statistical Software.