Compu-Picks: 2012 Spring Preview

Mr Pac Ten
Posted May 16, 2012


2012 Compu-Picks Spring Preview - Texas vs LSU, Part One: Turnover Margin

As you can see in the posted Compu-Picks 2012 spring top 25 list, the system projects Texas as not just being better than LSU, but being much better. Given that LSU is almost everyone's #1 team, and Texas is not at all a popular pick, I've put together a number of exhibits and analyses to help support this inevitably controversial projection.

One important piece of the projection is turnover margin. The below table shows the turnover margins enjoyed by both LSU and Texas over the past thirteen seasons:

Team Average 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999
LSU 3.46 20 8 4 -1 20 0 -9 -2 5 -1 4 4 -7
Texas 5.23 0 -12 9 2 1 9 7 5 2 17 10 5 13
Difference -1.77 20 20 -5 -3 19 -9 -16 -7 3 -18 -6 -1 -20

As you can see, for the past two years LSU has enjoyed a +20 turnover differential compared to Texas. This relative success has been a major historical aberration, as for the most part their turnover margins have fluctuated substantially but not typically in any lasting way (also worth noting: Football Outsiders did an analysis on NFL turnovers, and while that's not directly applicable to college, the same general point about turnovers, especially on defense, being largely luck do still apply; see also Phil Steele's note about turnover luck tending to indicate turnarounds). So just from looking at this chart it seems likely that this gap will substantially decline in 2012.

More specifically, it is especially likely that LSU's turnover margin will substantially decline in 2012. Their +20 turnover margin is a substantial outlier compared to their historical numbers, which suggests substantial decline is likely. In addition, looking at teams from 2000-2010 who have achieved similarly high turnover margins (based on this article) suggests the same conclusion. The below table shows the highest turnover margins from this time period, as well as the margins achieved the year before and the year after.

Essentially, the only program to sustain extremely high turnover margins over any sort of sustained time period was USC from 2002-2005. While there have been very occassional other instances of high margins in one year leading to the same in the next, the overall averages tell the final story. While it is certainly possible to repeat extreme turnover success, for the most part the expectation is substantial decline. This means that LSU, like any other program who achieves extreme turnover success in one season, is highly unlikely to repeat the same success, and highly likely to experience a turnover decline of more than 12, which translates to around one (or more) per game. That's a HUGE impact on success, as every turnover in a game is valuable, especially for a team who truly lived on huge defensive plays like LSU in 2011. If that success goes away (and history suggests that is quite likely), then LSU will need to succeed in a very different way in 2012 if they are to remain a top team.

TEAM NAME Year Next Year This Year Prev Year
MIAMI (FLA) 2001 -1 27 13
OKLAHOMA 2008 4 23 8
NEBRASKA 2003 -13 23 -3
AIR FORCE 2009 5 22 13
FLORIDA 2008 7 22 5
TULANE 2002 5 22 2
TOLEDO 2000 1 22 8
BOISE ST 2009 8 21 7
KANSAS 2007 4 21 -5
TCU 2005 7 21 4
USC 2005 4 21 19
USF 2002 -1 21 2
FRESNO ST 2001 6 21 0
RUTGERS 2009 7 20 1
LSU 2007 -1 20 0
MIAMI OH 2003 -10 20 7
USC 2003 19 20 18
VIRGINIA TECH 2010 5 19 9
ALABAMA 2009 11 19 6
BUFFALO 2008 -7 19 3
TULSA 2005 -5 19 -11
USC 2004 21 19 20
OKLAHOMA 2002 17 19 9
WEST VIRGINIA 2002 16 19 -8
FLORIDA ATLANTIC 2007 -9 18 1
MINNESOTA 2006 -15 18 -1
FLORIDA 2005 5 18 4
CALIFORNIA 2002 3 18 -18
USC 2002 20 18 16
WAKE FOREST 2002 7 18 -3
WISCONSIN 2002 -3 18 2
MARYLAND 2001 1 18 3
SYRACUSE 2001 2 18 -6
FLORIDA 2000 -6 18 -5
OREGON ST 2000 -7 18 7
TULSA 2010 -6 17 -2
OHIO STATE 2009 15 17 16
WAKE FOREST 2008 -4 17 9
BALL ST 2007 5 17 1
E CAROLINA 2007 5 17 4
OKLAHOMA 2003 4 17 19
ARKANSAS 2002 11 17 4
TEXAS 2002 2 17 10
BOWLING GREEN 2001 9 17 4
ARMY 2010 -9 16 5
BAYLOR 2008 -5 16 -18
OHIO STATE 2008 17 16 -3
CINCINNATI 2007 -8 16 -6
OKLAHOMA ST 2004 -15 16 -4
WEST VIRGINIA 2003 3 16 19
OREGON 2001 5 16 6
USC 2001 18 16 -19
MARYLAND 2010 4 15 -6
OHIO STATE 2010 5 15 17
ARKANSAS 2009 1 15 -9
CALIFORNIA 2008 4 15 -3
NAVY 2008 9 15 -2
RICE 2008 -9 15 -2
BOSTON COLLEGE 2006 6 15 -4
KENTUCKY 2006 -1 15 -9
BOWLING GREEN 2004 8 15 -6
UTAH 2004 -1 15 9
ALABAMA 2002 1 15 3
IOWA 2002 4 15 0
TCU 2002 4 15 -1
VIRGINIA 2002 5 15 4
Average - 15+ margin 2.94 18.02 2.47
Average - 18+ margin 3.06 19.94 3.63
Average - 20+ margin 3.00 21.59 5.82
Average - Exactly 20 margin 3.75 20.00 6.50

There are a few important notes and caveats I need to make about this model:

1) Compu-Picks does not endorse implicitly or explicitly any form of illegal gambling. Compu-Picks is intended to be used for entertainment purposes only.

2) No guarantee or warranty is offered or implied by Compu-Picks for any information provided and/or predictions made.

2012 Compu-Picks Blog

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at cfn_ms@hotmail.com

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Related Stories
Compu-Picks: 2012 Spring Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 15, 2012
Compu-Picks: 2012 Spring Top 25
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 15, 2012
Goodwin Wins Big 12 Long Jump ... Again
 -by LonghornDigest.com  May 14, 2012








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