Spiff’s Sidebar: BYU vs Opponent Averages

Scotten H. Whaley
Staff Writer
Loyal. Strong. True.

OREM, UTAH – One critique that is routinely thrown at BYU – even by some of its fans – is that the Cougar schedule is chock full of bad teams. And because of these bad teams, it is impossible for BYU to be considered a good team – since all they do is play poor teams.

 

Of course, these same critics seem to also have a tendency to discount any team BYU plays and beats as a good team. Why? Well, we simply cannot disrupt the narrative that BYU only feasts on patsies, can we?

 

Case in point, in 2012, BYU beat a Utah State team 6-3. Sure, the Aggies were 11-2 that season and finished ranked No. 16. But come on. It’s Utah State, they can’t possibly be a good team, especially if they lose to BYU.

 

Critics also like to claim that BYU racks up most of its stats against these lowly opponents. Therefore any prolific statistic or national ranking within a category can be summarily dismissed as an accurate reflection of the quality of a Cougar team or season. Unless of course that is if BYU is ranked poorly in one stat or another, for then this stat can be heavily relied upon to demonstrate the truth we all know. The truth that BYU is not and cannot be considered a good team.

 

So a few years, I began looking at how BYU performs against an opponent’s season averages. What I also do is remove the BYU game from the calculations of the BYU so that it can be compared independent of the other games on an opponent’s schedule. I think this also helps to discount complaints about a weak strength of schedule.

 

For instance, at CougarCorner.com we have set a passer efficiency rating (PER) standard of 135 points. When BYU hits that standard, since 2005 the Cougars are 67-5 (.931) when they hit that standard. When they don’t hit it, they are 25-35 (.417). But if BYU is going up against a team with a PER defense of 145, barely reaching the 135 PER Standard would actually be a worse game than if the Cougars’ PER was 120 against a defensive PER average of 115.

 

Now that the season is three weeks old, I think we can start looking at some of the data. As the season progresses, the data will change and new opponents will be added to the list. The ten categories I look at are scoring offense and defense, total offense and defense, rushing offense and defense, passing offense and defense and PER offense and defense.

 

So here is how BYU performed in each of their first three games when compared to their opponent’s season averages. Season averages are listed in parentheses. Categories in blue are those in which BYU outperformed the average; while those in red are where BYU underperformed. It’s not a perfect metric, but I think it shows, to a degree, how good or bad of a team the Cougars are.

 

Nota bene: Remember the season averages listed are those WITHOUT the BYU game factored into the calculations.

Nebraska

BYU held Nebraska 12.5 points below their scoring offense average (40.5).

BYU held Nebraska 66.5 yards below their total offense average (511.5).

BYU held Nebraska 79.5 yards below their rushing offense average (205.5).

BYU allowed Nebraska 13 more yards above their passing offense average (306.0).

BYU allowed Nebraska 6.4 more points above their PER offense average (138.9).

 

BYU scored 10.5 more points than the Huskers’ scoring defense average (22.5).

BYU gained 89.5 more yards than the Huskers’ total defense average (421.5).

BYU gained 56.5 more yards than the Huskers’ rushing defense average (75.5).

BYU gained 33 more yards than the Huskers’ passing defense average (346.0).

BYU was 7.9 points above the Huskers’ PER defense average (132.2).

 

Boise St

BYU held Boise St 10 points below their scoring offense average (34).

BYU held Boise St 99.5 yards below their total offense average (460.5).

BYU held Boise St 193.5 yards below their rushing offense average (257.5).

BYU allowed Boise St 10.5 more yards above their passing offense average (203).

BYU held Boise St to 10.9 fewer points above their PER offense average (135.3).

 

BYU scored 28.5 more points than the Broncos’ scoring defense average (22.5).

BYU gained 142.5 more yards than the Broncos’ total defense average (421.5).

BYU gained 39.5 more yards than the Broncos’ rushing defense average (75.5).

BYU gained 103 more yards than the Broncos’ passing defense average (346.0).

BYU was 71.3 points above the Broncos’ PER defense average (132.2).

 

UCLA

BYU held UCLA 11.5 points below their scoring offense average (35.5).

BYU held UCLA 112.5 yards below their total offense average (514.5).

BYU allowed UCLA 83.5 more yards than their rushing offense average (212.5).

BYU held UCLA 196 yards below their passing offense average (302).

BYU held UCLA to 50.1 fewer points above their PER offense average (124.9).

 

BYU scored 13.5 more points than the Bruins’ scoring defense average (9.5).

BYU gained 118.5 more yards than the Bruins’ total defense average (286.5).

BYU gained 21.5 more yards than the Bruins’ rushing defense average (139.5).

BYU gained 97 more yards than the Bruins’ passing defense average (147).

BYU was 22.3 points above the Bruins’ PER defense average (87.9).

 

Through Game 3

BYU has held all three opponents below their scoring offense averages.

BYU has held all three opponents below their total offense averages.

BYU has held two of three opponents below their rushing offense averages.

BYU has held one of three opponents below their passing offense averages.

BYU has held two of three opponents below their PER offense averages.

 

BYU has scored more points against all three opposing scoring defense averages.

BYU has gained more yards against all three opposing total defense averages.

BYU has gained more yards against all three opposing rushing defense averages.

BYU has gained more yards against all three opposing passing defense averages.

BYU has had a higher PER than all three opposing PER defense averages.

 

As the data continues to accumulate, turn to www.LoyalStrongTrue.com or www.CougarCorner.com for analysis can find here.
Follow me on Twitter @SpiffCoug or find me at www.LoyalStrongTrue.com or www.CougarCorner.com.

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