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Turnover Margin and 2009 Expectations

Brian: In a recent post, college football guru Phil Steele attempts to explain the correlation between the previous season's turnover margin and next season's success.
Every year in my College Preview Magazine I do an in-depth article on Turnovers = Turnaround which shows that basically only 20% of the time does a team that benefited from double digit turnovers the previous year manage to increase its record or a team that had the misfortune of negative double digit turnovers stumble to an even weaker record. That is an 80% success rate for this very easy to follow system which I have published 15 straight years.

But what does it all mean for Boston College and the rest of the ACC?

Check out the below table of ACC programs, their 2008 turnover margin and win totals. Should you subscribe to Steele's theory on turnover margin, you can make the appropriate adjustments to your preseason predictions.

ACC Team
08 TO Margin 08 Win Total 09 Steele Predictor
Wake Forest +17 8 8 wins or less
Virginia Tech +14 10 10 wins or less
NC State +8 6 N/A
North Carolina +6 8 N/A
Duke +5 4 N/A
Boston College +3 9 N/A
Georgia Tech +2 9 N/A
Florida State 0 9 N/A
Clemson -1 7 N/A
Virginia -7 5 N/A
Maryland -8 8 N/A
Miami (Fla.) -10 7 7 wins or more

Unfortunately, Steele's turnover margin theory doesn't really hold for BC's three FBS non-conference opponents this season - Central Michigan (+4), Notre Dame (-3), and Kent State (-3). So if you subscribe to this theory, it doesn't tell us much of anything about our non-conference slate of games.

If you are somewhat skeptical, which I am, this theory held true for every ACC program with a double digit turnover margin in 2007. Clemson (+13) led the ACC in turnover margin in 2007 only to see their win total decrease by 2 last season. Virginia Tech (+11) finished second and also saw their win total decrease by 1. On the flip side, NC State (-16) increased their win total by only one game in 2008.

How about 2006? Going backwards in time, BC happens to be the first ACC outlier to Steele's theory. The Eagles led the conference in turnover margin (+15) and saw it's 2007 win total increase by 1 to 11 wins in 2007. However, the other three ACC programs with double digit turnover margins all fit this theory. Wake Forest (+13) dropped two more games in 2007. NC State and North Carolina (-11) both saw increases to their win total in 2007.