As always, we use:
- Yards Per Stop to measure efficiency
- Yards Per Play to measure explosiveness
- Points Per Drive to measure scoring
- Points Per Trip Inside the 40 to measure drive finishing
- Field Position Margin to measure field position
- Turnover Margin to measure turnovers
These numbers have taken quite a dip in the last couple of weeks—losing to mediocre Oregon State and getting blown into garbage time 3 minutes into the 3rd quarter by Southern Cal will do that.
Besides the exhilarating 59-56 overtime loss to Cal, the Colorado offense has not performed particularly well this year. They haven’t even played any truly big-time defenses, with Oregon State and Southern Cal being the best of their opponents, so these numbers are a little disappointing. The Buffaloes have been mediocre both in offensive efficiency and offensive explosiveness, though they have done a pretty good job of turning scoring opportunities into points (HANG ON TO THAT BALL, BRUINS). This offense isn’t as good as the Cal offense the Bruins faced and did a pretty good job against this past weekend, so hopefully the defense can put up numbers so good we don’t have to use a curve.
The Colorado defense, while better than the Cal defense, is still pretty bad. They have been just mediocre at preventing opposing offenses from being efficient, and they have done a terrible job of taking away explosive plays. Their Points Allowed Per Trip Inside the 40 is last in the Pac-12 by over half a point, and they are behind even Cal in Points Allowed Per Drive. For the second week in a row, this is a bad defense that the UCLA offense should be able to shred. The Bruins have plummeted all the way to #2 in the FEI offensive ratings we discussed last week, so they will need a big performance (certainly bigger than last week’s turnoverpalooza) against this weak defense to stay among the top teams in that metric.
The Massey College Football Ranking Composite, taking 100 different rating systems into account, has UCLA as the #19 team in college football (down 2 slots from last week—computers don’t give a damn about the Strawberry Canyon Curse), while Colorado is #91. The Bruins’ rankings range from #8 to #38 with a standard deviation of 6.23. The Buffaloes’ rankings range from #45 to #110, with a standard deviation of 9.99.
Using a Simple Ratings System (solid descriptive article here), we see the following: Using Footballperspective.com’s numbers, UCLA has a SRS of 52.9 while Colorado has an SRS of 32, meaning that when we take +3 for home field into account, Football Perspective predicts a 17 point Bruin win. Using Sports-Reference.com’s numbers, UCLA has an SRS of 14.43 while Colorado has an SRS of -3.43, meaning that Sports Reference predicts a 14 point UCLA win.
The Bruins should win this game fairly comfortably, though they will certainly get Colorado’s best shot. A close win or a loss would be a pretty bad omen for the rest of the year—hopefully the Bruins can hold on to the ball, force turnovers, and outplay an overmatched opponent on the road. Of course, the last time the Bruins were so seemingly dominant over a road opponent they needed three defensive touchdowns to escape Charlottesville. In the end, the math is still blessedly simple—win and the Bruins are still alive in the Pac-12 Championship Tournament going into all-important November.
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