The 1,000 play club in college football

There has been a lot of conversation throughout the 2012 season about the rising tempo throughout football. And not just in the college game, either. See this note in Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback: "Another sign of the times that the NFL game is changing before our eyes: The Patriots ran 205 more plays in the regular season this year than they did in 2010 -- an increase of 13 offensive snaps per game.play club grows by the year."

Looking at the college game, what jumped out to us today was the number of teams that ran 1,000 plays in 2012. First, we must look at where we came from and just how fast we got here. As recently as five years ago, only five teams ran 1,000 plays. The number was the same in 2009, five, with only Oklahoma and Houston repeating from year-to-year. 

Then, in 2010, eight teams reached 1,000 plays. A year ago, the number jumped to 13. And in 2010, the 1,000-play club ballooned to 23. Clicking through the years on CFBStats.com looks like the construction an inverted numerical skyscraper: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Tempo isn't just rising among the ultra-fast offenses, either. In 2008, 35 teams ran 900 or more plays; in 2012, 58 teams snapped the ball 900 times or more.

Not surprisingly, the number of teams topping 500 yards per game has followed suit. From 2007-11, a maximum of six teams posted 500 yards or more per game. In 2012, 10 teams reached 500 yards per game. In 2008, 35 teams averaged 400 yards or more per game; in 2012, 60 teams reached that number.

It sounds crazy to say, but there may soon come a time when 500 yards a game, and the 1,000 plays it takes to get there, is the price of poker if you want to win in college football. 


VIDEO: The only thing better than a weekly hype clip is...

The only thing better than a weekly hype clip would have be a full seasons worth of them combined into one long clip.

That's exactly what BYU did by combining all of their "Countdown to Kickoff" weekly lead ins into one long, and well done, clip.

You'll experience the heartbreak behind their loss to Utah, as well as the physicality and dominance behind the #3 defense in the country throughout the video. Enjoy!

UNLV could be building the next great American stadium

We've all seen the architectural marvels that have popped up in recent years (Cowboys Stadium, MetLife Stadium) and those still in the works (Farmers Field in Los Angeles, the 49ers' new stadium in Santa Clara). Now UNLV could be getting in the state-of-the-art stadium arms race.

The stadium, which was presented by UNLV and Majestic Realty to the Nevada System of Higher Education's Board of Regents on Friday, would seat 60,000 spectators with a 100-yard video screen (yes, 100 yards) with two clubs, six VIP suites that would hold up to 300 people and 50 traditional suites. An estimated price tag checks in the neighborhood of $800 million.

Artistic renderings show events like UFC, the Final Four and MLS Cup being played at what's being dubbed UNLV Now.

"This project is a game changer for UNLV and Las Vegas," Don Snyder, UNLV Now's project lead, told the Las Vegas Sun. "It's an important and significant project for the state as well. It's the next big thing."

"We will secure a lot more events if we have this stadium," Pat Christenson, the president of Las Vegas Events, also told the Sun . "Because this venue itself will become an attraction, it's going to help sell more tickets. With the event, the Las Vegas (Strip) and the venue, it's going to be a highly powerful marketing combination."

Of course, there's a long, long journey between an artist's renderings and actually putting a shovel in the ground. But, if UNLV Now becomes a reality, the Rebels could be next of a long line of jackpot winners in Las Vegas.



A new way to study offensive/defensive statistics

Earlier this month we praised the Buffalo Bills for bringing analytics to the NFL. As we said then, the study of advanced statistics have found their homes in baseball and basketball, and it was long past due that they find a place in football as well.

Like almost everything else in football, the college game has beaten the NFL to the punch. Over the weekend we received a gold mine of data from Tulsa graduate assistant Zak Bigelow (who was the FootballScoop GA of the Day back in June) has developed a new way to evaluate the efficiency of offenses and defenses in football. For anyone familiar with the Points Per 100 Possessions metric in basketball, Bigelow created football's answer: points per 75 plays. 

Bigelow's intent was to create a set of data that, "does not give offenses points for defensive or special teams touchdowns and punishes them for allowing touchdowns off of interceptions and fumbles," while also accounting for pace. Bigelow began this study following the 2011 season and settled 75 plays because the average number of snaps in the 2011 season was 144. 

Before we delve into the numbers, understand that, for example, Baylor ran 1,072 plays in 13 games, which put their defense on the field for 1,080 plays. Conversely, Army ran 921 plays in 12 games, but its triple-option offense only required the Black Knights' defense to be on the field for 763 plays. So, over the course of a season, Baylor was tasked with defending 317 more plays than Army. 

Offensive Points Per 75 Plays

1. Oregon 45.68
2. Alabama 45.27
3. Kansas State 45.04
4. Louisiana Tech 43.98
5. Oklahoma State 43.93

Defensive Points Per 75 Plays

1. Alabama 13.71
2. Notre Dame 15.00
3. Utah State 15.50
4. Rutgers 15.65
5. Florida 16.45 

It's always important to remember that advanced stats aren't to be used as a sole evaluation point, but as a reference point to what we see on the field. Anyone who watched college football knew the above teams had excellent offenses and defenses. The only eye-opener was just how efficient the Crimson Tide offense was. 

If we look beyond the numbers, which units were actually more efficient than the numbers gave them credit for?

Offensive Points Per 75 Plays vs. Traditional Rankings

Central Michigan - jumped 27 spots. Ranked 64th nationally (28.8 ppg) in traditional rankings, 37th (33.97) in points/75 plays
Michigan - 26 spots. 57th (29.8 ppg) in traditional rankings, 31st (35.49) in points/75 plays
Texas State - 22 spots. 67th (28.6 ppg) in traditional rankings, 45th (33.24) in points/75 plays
Western Kentucky - 21 spots. 70th (28.2 ppg) in traditional rankings, 49th (32.64) in points/75 plays
Mississippi State - 21 spots. 60th (29.5 ppg) in traditional rankings, 39th (33.87) in points/75 plays

Here are some offenses that looked worse when judged on efficiency.

Marshall - dropped 31 spots. 7th (40.9 ppg) in traditional rankings, 38th (33.88) in points/75 plays
Houston - dropped 28 spots. 38th (32.4 ppg) in traditional rankings, 66th (29.65) in points/75 plays
Tulsa - dropped 27 spots. 30th (34.7 ppg) in traditional rankings, 57th (31.42) in points/75 plays
Ball State - dropped 23 spots. 33rd (33.6 ppg) in traditional rankings, 56th (31.67) in points/75 plays
Rice - dropped 21 spots. 41st (31.8 ppg) in traditional rankings, 62nd (30.26) in points/75 plays

Going back to the basketball comparison, the offenses in the below group were volume shooters. They put a lot of points on the scoreboard, but took a lot of reps to get there. The bottom five teams each ran 984 plays or more, while the top group all ran 848 plays or fewer. 

Defensive Points Per 75 Plays vs. Traditional Rankings

Houston - jumped 34 spots. 110th nationally (36 ppg) in traditional rankings, 75th (31.43) in points/75 plays
Boston College - 25 spots. 75th (29.7 ppg) in traditional rankings, 50th (27.27) in points/75 plays
Arizona - 25 spots. 104th (35.3 ppg) in traditional rankings, 79th (31.73) in points/75 plays
Miami - 24 spots. 83rd (30.5 ppg) in traditional rankings, 59th (28.74) in points/75 plays
California - 17 spots. 98th (33.1 ppg) in traditional rankings, 81st (31.84) in points/75 plays
Baylor - 17 spots. 113th (37.2 ppg) in traditional rankings, 96th (33.61) in points/75 plays

Conversely, here are some defenses that looked much worse when examined on a per play basis

New Mexico - dropped 24 spots. 79th (30.2 ppg) in traditional rankings, 103rd (34.88) in points/75 plays
Florida Atlantic - dropped 20 spots. 85th (30.8 ppg) in traditional rankings, 105th (35.13) in points/75 plays
Georgia Tech - dropped 20 spots. 65th (28.3 ppg) in traditional rankings, 85th (32.28) in points/75 plays
Louisville - dropped 20 spots. 36th (23.8 ppg) in traditional rankings, 56th (27.89) in points/75 plays
Army - dropped 16 spots. 104th (35.3 ppg) in traditional rankings, 120th (41.68) in points/75 plays

Again, the data is backing up logical sense. Defenses that line up across explosive up-tempo offenses week after week (Houston, Arizona, California, Baylor) look better than the traditional stats say they are, while defenses that are aided by clock-chewing triple-option offenses (New Mexico, Georgia Tech, Army) look worse.

The only team to show up in both studies, Houston turns out to be the perfect test case in the points per 75 plays study. The Cougars' offense wasn't as good as the numbers dictate, but its defense was better than the numbers say. In the end, though, they add up to what Houston ended up becoming, a 5-7 team. 

When studying not just the numbers themselves, but how they stack up when compared to the traditional statistics, only the middle class tended to be greatly effected. Great offenses and stingy defenses look good under any microscope. But points per 75 plays succeeds at what it intends to accomplish, stripping away all the clutter, in this case, pace, special teams touchdowns, etc., and revealing who really makes the most of their time spent on the field. 


Video: Calling the offense isn't Pep Hamilton's only talent

During Stanford's Rose Bowl Game Champions celebration over the weekend, a coach and two players were called on to take half court shots.

As they were shooting, Pep Hamilton got the itch to take a shot as well and threw himself into the mix...and you can probably guess what happened next.

Further on down the road when Hamilton decides to hang up the whistle, he can always tour the country taking half court shots at college and NBA games for a chance at a new car or other awesome prizes.

Luckily for Stanford, Hamilton has a long and successful career ahead of him calling plays for the Cardinal.

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