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Advanced Stat Preview: Duke

Duke started off the year on a tear, winning 4 straight until they lost to Virginia Tech. At 7-3, it’s a good year for Duke. They are going bowling and have a chance to go 8-4 with a win over Wake Forest. I’m trying to find a way to work up fear of this Duke team, but can’t do it. Of course, like every week, we can say crazy things happen. We can talk up FEI liking them, ranking them 21st. But that’s an outlier. They probably fall in the 35-40 range. Pretty much any way you slice it they are a decent but not great team.

Daniel Jones is a decent QB but keeps it short. Their WR’s are reliable seniors: they catch the ball but aren’t explosive. They have a good running back in Deon Jackson with 5.5 yards per carry. Their TE’s and RB’s catch the ball, but aren’t lighting the world on fire.

Even their defense is mediocre, ranking around the 40 mark. They don’t have players with eye popping statistics. S&P+ really doesn’t like their rushing efficiency, ranking it 86th. We should be able to run and pass on them.

I’m expecting a fun game for the players with senior day and military appreciation day. We should empty the bench for this one.

2018 vs. 2017

This year seems very top end heavy, so I compared F/+ ratings from 2018 to 2017. I expected F/+ to even out the results and the data to not be too useful comparing years to each other, but there are some interesting takeaways.

The top ten teams from 2017 did not have much separation. The best rated 53.4% while number 10 rated 49.3%. 2018 is a completely different story with a huge drop-off. The best rates 53.0% and number 10 rates 42.8%. You can see the top 5 teams right inline, then a fast decrease in quality to where number 10 in 2017 rated higher than number 6 in 2018.

If you ask me, the best teams in 2018 are much better than 2017. Alabama and Clemson are better this year. Michigan is better than Ohio State and arguably Georgia. What I think we’re seeing in the ratings is that there wasn’t substantial separation at the top in 2017, but we are seeing it in 2018. It’s hard to compare years, but the ratings are good to compare teams relatively to each other. We’re seeing a big drop off after the top 5 teams. Per F/+, those teams are Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, and Oklahoma. Notre Dame is a step behind at 6, then we have UCF at number 7.

We’re sitting around enjoying the last couple regular season weekends of the year, but we have a good time coming with the best teams in college football facing off. Alabama – Georgia will be worth watching, as will the teams in the Playoff. Enjoy college football before it’s over.


Stats via SBNation and Bill Connelly.

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