Week 2 Statistical Review

September 11, 2017

Highest Graded Teams (Percentile Performance)

1. Southwestern - win over McMurry 56-12 (99.8%)

2. Carthage - win over Bethel 31-0 (99.8%)

3. UW-Stout - win over St. Thomas 25-22 (99.8%)

4. Shenandoah - win over N.C. Wesleyan 61-14 (99.8%)

5. Concordia-Moorhead - win over UW-Whitewater 25-17 (99.6%)

6. Wheaton Ill. - win over Kalamazoo 58-6 (99.5%)

7. Wartburg - win over Monmouth 36-13 (99.4%)

8. Puget Sound - win over Occidental 61-6 (99.4%)

9. Emory and Henry - win over Brevard 48-13 (99.0%)

10. Hobart - win over St. John Fisher 31-3 (98.8%)


I'm going to feel as dumb typing this as you're going to assume of me: The way they played on Saturday, Shenandoah could have probably beaten UW-Whitewater, and Southwestern & Carthage could have beaten St. Thomas. Now just because I typed it, and because my model says it, that doesn't mean I believe that by any means.


I know it's only one game, but I think it's safe to say that Southwestern's year in 2016 was not a fluke or any sort of statistical anomaly, but instead a sign of a real upward trajectory for the program. Same goes for the improvement that Carthage showed last season, and too apparently for the struggles by Bethel.


Wartburg could definitely be higher on this list, but instead they decided to take a couple of knees inside of Monmouth's 5 yard line to end the game. I watched most of the game, and the by Wartburg on both sides of the ball has me very optimistic for the rest of their season. Their offensive line dominated a good Monmouth squad in the trenches to close out the game.


The only team to make this list in each of the first two weeks? Wheaton. It's also the second week that two CCIW teams made the list.

Lowest Graded Teams (Percentile Performance)

192. Occidental - loss to Puget Sound 61-6 (0.1%)

191. Martin Luther - loss to MacMurray 54-28 (0.1%)

190. Alfred State - loss to Hartwick 45-0 (0.2%)

189. N.C. Wesleyan - loss to Shenandoah 61-14 (0.4%)

188. Gallaudet - loss to Greensboro 23-21 (0.5%)

187. Mount Ida - loss to Plymouth State 27-0 (0.6%)

186. Wilkes - loss to Lebanon Valley 36-0 (0.7%)

185. Greenville - loss to St. Scholastica 47-27 (0.9%)

184. Castleton - loss to Fitchburg State 31-10 (0.9%)

183. Becker - loss to Worcester State 36-7 (0.9%)


We knew Occidental's defense was going to be bad this year (they were the most imbalanced team in the country last season), but their offense was supposed to score, especially against teams like Puget Sound.


A week after making this list themselves, St. Scholastica's opponent was one of the worst performers in the country in Week 2. My, what a difference a week makes. Maybe we shouldn't over-react to the first game of the season?

Biggest Upsets (Predicted Line)

1. UW-Stout - win over St. Thomas 25-22 (+31.0)

2. Bridgewater - win over Thomas More 25-23 (+23.8)

3. Manchester - win over Alma 33-31 (+21.6)

4. Catholic - win over Utica 16-10 (+20.5)

5. Benedictine - win over St. Norbert 29-7 (+16.4)

6. Concordia-Moorhead - win over UW-Whitewater 25-17 (+15.9)

7. Curry - win over MIT 15-7 (+15.4)

8. Southwestern - win over McMurry 56-12 (+15.0)

9. Macalester - win over Hamline 23-14 (+13.3)

10. Greensboro - win over Gallaudet 23-21 (+10.5)


The Stout win over St. Thomas was truly a huge upset. Teams only overcome a 31-point spread about once every 40 games, but an upset the size of Bridgewater over Thomas More had about 1-in-15 odds, and Concordia-Moorhead over Whitewater was around 1-in-6.


The point I'm trying to make is this: football is a game of inches, but also a game of funky bounces and lucky play calls. There's a lot of prep that goes into each game for both teams, but something unplanned for can easily flip a game, and upsets of this magnitude happen all of the time in DIII, just usually not to UST, TMC or UWW. 

Biggest Outliers (Absolute Error in Score Prediction)

1. McMurry @ Southwestern (57.4)

2. Shenandoah @ N.C. Wesleyan (53.0)

3. Occidental @ Puget Sound (52.3)

4. Benedictine @ St. Norbert (38.4)

5. Emory and Henry @ Brevard (37.7)

6. St. Thomas @ UW-Stout (34.0)

7. Lebanon Valley @ Wilkes (32.5)

8. Bethel @ Carthage (31.6)

9. Trine @ Bluffton (31.2)

10. Utica @ Catholic (26.5)


Just like CSS in the "Worst Performers" category, Lebanon Valley played in one of the biggest outlier games for the second week in a row, but with a completely different outcome. A week after getting demolished by Franklin and Marshall in what was expected to be relatively close, the Flying Dutchmen pitched a 36-0 shutout of Wilkes in a game that was projected at a 3.5 point margin. 


I would ignore the Brevard/E&H game from inclusion in this list, because E&H won the game by a couple of scores last season, but I am a slave to my spreadsheets. Brevard this year is seriously making me reconsider how I handle teams joining DIII from other divisions for next season.

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