Can Colorado turn it around?

February, 27, 2013
2/27/13
7:00
PM ET
Colorado has a lot of problems, but Brian Fremeau of Football Outsiders, writing for ESPN.com, adds one that will be new to many: PFEI.

One of Football Insiders metrics is called Fremeau Efficiency Index:
[It] considers each of the nearly 20,000 possessions every season in major college football. All drives are filtered to eliminate first-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores. A scoring rate analysis of the remaining possessions then determines the baseline possession efficiency expectations against which each team is measured. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams, win or lose, and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams.

PFEI is then an efficiency index for a program:
[It] is calculated in a similar manner to FEI. The drive-by-drive summary of the success of a team maximizing its own possessions and minimizing those of its opponent is Game Efficiency (GE). GE data is then adjusted according to the strength of the opposition faced, with more relevance placed on strong performances, win or lose, against strong opponents. With Program FEI, five years of GE data is included instead of just one, and the data is weighted in favor of more recent performances -- all games are included, but last year is a bit more relevant than games played five years ago.

In the Pac-12, Oregon is No. 1 and No. 3 in the nation. Stanford is seventh in the nation. Then it goes: USC (14), Arizona State (37), Oregon State (38), Arizona (44), Utah (46), UCLA (57), California (60) and Washington (68).

Fremeau, not surprisingly, notes that Colorado fell hard this past season, from No. 86 to 107. He writes:
The Buffaloes have been on a massive slide for several years, dropping further in the Program FEI ratings every year since 2007. The latest slide was Colorado's steepest, fresh off one of the worst seasons posted by an AQ conference team ever. The Buffaloes were so bad, our measures suggest they actually were on the positive side of the luck ledger and still managed to win only one FBS game. Colorado opponents started drives 7 yards closer to the end zone than Colorado's own offense could muster, accounting for nearly 60 points lost on the season due to field position alone.

Fremeau goes on to point out that Colorado can help itself by reverse its horrible issues with big plays, both for and against.
If Colorado has any initial success this year, it will have to come in the category of generating big plays and limiting opponent big-play opportunities. An astonishing 24.3 percent of opponent possessions averaged at least 10 yards per play, and the Buffaloes managed to produce such explosive drives on only 2.5 percent of their own possessions -- both of those marks ranked dead last among all FBS teams last year.

Of course, Colorado did win a Pac-12 game last year: Against Washington State.

Guess which program ranks below Colorado in PFEI -- and is last in the nation among FBS teams?

Check it out here.

Ted Miller | email

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