The frequency of touchbacks has nearly doubled from 2011 to 2012. The distribution of starting field position is a bit more narrow this year as well. The spikes at the 40-yard line in the 2011 data and the 35-yard line in the 2012 data are due to where the ball has been placed following a kickoff out of bounds in each season. Touchdown returns have been consistent from 2011 to 2012, occurring on 0.8 percent of kickoffs in each season.
The game splits published on this site represent the offensive, defensive, special teams, field position and turnover values generated by each team in every FBS vs. FBS game played this season. The charts above illustrate what that data looks like over the course of each game, possession by possession.
Mean wins projections are a function of the FEI rating of each team and the regular season opponents scheduled to be played. Through the first three weeks of the season, the shift in mean wins projections for some teams has been dramatic. Half of all teams have had a projection shift of less than one game, but the average shift to date in mean wins for all teams is 1.2 games.
2012 FEI team projections are posted and the college football season begins this Thursday night. For all the work we do to produce the best projections possible, a pair of graphics like these are a nice reminder that it should take all year to make complete sense of the data we collect and analyze. I'm looking forward to enjoying another season of surprises.
The Program FEI (PFEI) ratings published on this site represent a rolling five year period of drive efficiency data, weighted for more recent seasons. PFEI has a strong correlation with next-year FEI ratings (.752) and is used as the baseline data for my annual FEI projections. For years in which drive data is unavailable, I have developed an Approximated Program FEI (APFEI) rating based on final scores instead of possessions.
A top PFEI rating is no guarantee of elite success each season. Last year, Alabama became the first national champion since Florida State in 1999 to win the title after starting the year with the top program rating in the country. That said, it is rare for national championship contenders to emerge in a given year without having built sustained success over time.
- In the nine-year history of FEI, only two teams have finished in the top-5 with a PFEI/APFEI rating outside the top-40 at the start of the season: 2007 Oregon and 2010 Stanford.
- Only two teams have finished outside the top-40 in FEI with a PFEI/APFEI top-5 rating at the start of the season: 2010 Texas and 2011 Florida.
- In each of the last eight seasons, both participants in the BCS championship game were ranked among the top-20 in PFEI/APFEI at the start of the season.
- The national champion(s) in 23 of the last 27 seasons was ranked among the PFEI/APFEI top-20 at the start of the season.