The Scuzz Model: Bowl Week
Since last week’s post regarding the impact of coaching changes on bowl performance we’ve had several additional examples of these bowl situations play out…
Arizona State, Southern Mississippi, & UNC all have coaching “issues”. Most interesting is UNC with their lame-duck /interim coach Everett Withers. He held the “interim coach” position this entire season and is now leaving to be DC at Ohio State, yet stayed on to coach the bowl. This is the situation most closely resembling Texas A&M, in my opinion. If you were watching earlier this evening, you saw UNC get smoked by Missouri.
I’ve updated the chart from last week, adding in these new results and clarifying the buckets a little bit… now you can see the Lame Duck and Promoted categories on their own (rather than mixed with the fired coaches).
As a couple of our readers pointed out, the Football Outsiders also tackled this question last week using a longer time horizon. It’s a great read and worth checking out. The biggest differences are my willingness to include situations like Rich Rod (who wasn’t actually fired yet) and Bill Stewart at WVU (who wasn’t fired, but the next HC had already been hired). They also use their FO expected scoring to measure performance, whereas I’m comparing to the Vegas line, which presumably already factors in some impact of the coaching upheaval (example – the line for the Pitt-SMU game this year has dropped 2 points in SMU’s favor, due to the coaching issues at Pitt).
My numbers still show a big difference in how teams perform with a lame duck coach (the FO crew showed positive scoring margin in this bucket, but suggested it was skewed by the Ralph Freidgen game at Maryland… I categorized that as a “send off” game, given that everybody but the Maryland AD thought Freidgen didn’t deserve to be fired). The UNC game from tonight and ASU game from earlier in the week bolstered both the number of games and the negative trend in the lame duck category, as both those teams were hammered by their opponents.
Additionally, I took a look at teams playing bowl games close to home. This was a pretty loose analysis – I didn’t calculate actual milage distances – but considered anything played about a 1-2 hour drive of a team’s home field; this is similar to the distance A&M will travel for Saturday’s game. Across the 9 games I found since 2009, the “home team” out-performed the spread by about 1.8 points.
So given the spread for the NU game is A&M by 10… if we boldly adjust for both the coaching situation (I’ll use the fired+lame duck value of negative 10.6) and the home field advantage, that leaves A&M as about a 1.2 point favorite… lets call it Texas A&M -1.5.
Barring the adjustment discussed above, the Scuzz Model doesn’t like NU’s chances in the bowl game, giving only a 25% chance for a Wildcat win. But the model was wrong about most of A&M’s losses this year, including against Missouri where the Aggies were 80% favorites. As we tried to highlight in this week’s forthcoming podcast, the Cats really have their work cut-out for them in this game, but A&M has some definite weak spots that we will hopefully see NU exploit. I am confident (as always) the Cats can win this one, but the margin for error is very slim.
Some bold bowl predictions… I won’t lie, I’m going out on a limb with a number of these (MSU and Wisc for sure), but here are some bowl picks from the Scuzz Model:
Western Michigan +3 over Purdue
Louisville +1.5 over NC State
Toledo -3 over Air Force
Tulsa +1 over BYU
Michigan State +3.5 over Georgia
Wisconsin +4.5 over Oregon
West Virginia +3 over Clemson
Arkansas State -1.5 over NIU
Scuzz Model Bowls Straight up 6-2
Scuzz Model Bowls ATS 6-1
(games where Scuzz Model and Vegas show identical lines are excluded)