Every week, Bill Connelly of SB Nation and Football Study Hall posts his advanced box scores. These are a better way to gauge the performance of a game than simply looking at total yards or points. They dig down into a more granular level, discard garbage time stats, etc.
Obviously FSU did not play well. It outgained Virginia Tech 4.8 to 4.3/play, but played situations poorly (no touchdowns in the red zone) and had a major special teams error. It also had a 24.1% success rate. The goal of the offense is to create explosive plays, but no offense is going to do very well, almost regardless of explosiveness, with a 24% success rate.
FSU did not deserve to win the game. But it also did not play at a level three touchdowns worse than Virginia Tech.
This week, FSU actually gets specific mention in the column two categories that are (somewhat) out of its control. And these factors helped to make the score much greater than the actual gap in quality of play.
Top 5 turnovers luck margins (vs. FBS)
- Virginia Tech (+5.5 vs. FSU)
- Arizona State (+3.6 vs. UTSA)
- UCF (+3.6 vs. UConn)
- Cal (+3.3 vs. UNC)
- Boise State (+3.3 vs. Troy)
Translation: Virginia Tech had a turnover margin that was +5.5 ahead of where national averages suggest it should have been. (That’s what happens when you recover all six fumbles in a given game.) As each turnover is worth approximately five points, that means FSU suffered about 27.5 points’ worth of bad turnovers luck. In a 21-point loss. Tech got a blocked punt score, too. The Noles looked like crap, and Tech’s D-line was amazing, but ... better luck could have still flipped this result.
Um, that is one of the biggest numbers in the turnover luck category for a single game that I have ever seen. It is 53% higher than the No. 2 most unlucky team.
Update: Bill Connelly messaged me that this game was the highest turnover luck for any team since 2015 and a top-25 game in the category for any team since 2007.
Top 5 field position margins (vs. FBS)
- Syracuse (+22.6 vs. WMU)
- Virginia Tech (+20.8 vs. Florida State)
- Stanford (+15.1 vs. SDSU)
- Rutgers (+14.2 vs. Texas State)
- LSU (+13.8 vs. Miami)
All of these teams won by double digits.