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The Book 2022: BC's Season in Review and CFP Title Game Pick

The 2022 season comes to a close with the CFP title game on Monday. We’ll get to our picks for Georgia-TCU shortly, but first a look at the 2022 Boston College season through the eyes of The Book. I believe and hope you’ll find these as interesting as I did in researching them.

Keep in mind that no one stat or point of view is an end all be all of why the Eagles finished 3-9. If you’re looking for that silver bullet, it will be tough to find and there are always outliers to any theory, but if you take it all in aggregate, it does tell a compelling story.

What did returning production tell us about the 2022 season?

Heading into the season, the challenges facing Boston College were clear.

The Eagles were losing four of their five starting offensive linemen and then lost an All ACC first team and potential 2023 first round NFL draft choice in Christian Mahogany. That left BC with only 5% returning production along the offensive line.

The FBS average for returning offensive line production was 60%, with only Colorado State (7%) and Virginia (3%) along with BC under 10%.

Collin Wilson from The Action Network uses a formula to track this he calls TARP (transferring assets and returning production). This along with a 3 year historical power rating average, that year’s recruiting, coaching changes and believe it or not, two luck categories based on turnovers and Pythagorean expectation (that’s further along), roll up to provide our pre-season ratings.

How did these impact BC’s offense heading into the season?

Offensive Grade

  • Quarterback Passing Yards = 33% of total grade

    • While Phil Jurkovec returned, we know he didn’t return a lot of yards and wound up missing a lot of games in 2023.

    • 45.2% returning passing yards overall

  • Rushing Yards = 7% of total grade

    • 86.7% of returning yards but only 4.1 yds per carry with that very experienced O-Line

  • Receiving Yards = 33% of total grade

    • 75.9% of returning yards. The unquestioned strength of the BC offense, but can those receivers get the ball.

  • Offensive Line Snaps = 27% of total grade

    • 5% total offensive snaps. Second lowest in the country, for a unit that requires more experience and unity than any other. The Eagles also didn’t start the same five starters in the same spots until the 10th game at NC State. Three different players started at left tackle, four at left guard, two at center, two at right guard and four at right tackle. BC also changed offensive coordinators and offensive line coach. This was bound to be a massive challenge.

What did pre-season win totals tell us about the 2022 season?

Most BCI readers were very bullish on the Eagles heading into the 2022 season. One of the preseason posts discussed the Vegas preseason win total of 6.5 as essentially a slam dunk. The Book and as a matter of fact, the vast majority of pundits, didn’t see it that way.

Our preseason prediction for BC was 5.82 wins. Now the Eagles didn’t come to close to that number at 3-9, but the delta of -0.68 between our prediction and the pre-season Vegas win total, put them as the 7th largest discrepancy in the country…which meant, go heavy on the under.

Of the top (or bottom if you please) eight teams in this category, 6 of the 8 (75%) went under their predicted win totals. Only one of those eight had plus Vegas odds not to go under, meaning that Vegas felt all of these teams were likely to go under.

Only James Madison, new to FBS, a bit of a crapshoot in general and USC, which although we tried to account for all the transfers and new coach bump, wound up going over.

This doesn’t mean that all the teams on this list were bad. USC had a win total of 9.5 and Texas 8.5, but the thought was they were strongly leaning to go under that total.

Team Delta Win total Actual Win ODDS
Navy (1.47) 4.5 4 (140)
James Madison (1.37) 6.5 8 (120)
USC (1.29) 9.5 11 (120)
Georgia St (0.82) 7.5 4 (150)
Tulsa (0.74) 6.0 5 (135)
Texas St (0.69) 4.5 4 105
BC (0.68) 6.5 3 (135)
Texas (0.67) 8.5 8 (125)

That said, BC clearly underachieved beyond these numbers alone.

The Eagles were #127 in the country (or five from the bottom if you prefer) in terms of a drop in power rating from their preseason number. BC was 10.26 points less, which literally equates to a 10.26 point drop vs their competition as those ratings directly create our point spreads.

Boston College also lost 38 spots in those power ratings, dropping from 60th in the preseason to 98th at conclusion. 60th isn’t exactly high to begin with and 98th put them 3rd from the bottom of the Power Five teams ahead of only Rutgers (#104 but holding a win over BC) and Colorado (#126, which is as low as I can ever recall seeing a Power Five team finish in terms of power ratings).

Rank over/under acheivers week 0 week
bowls
delta Rank 0 Rank
bowls
Delta
131 COLORADO 116.48 100.43 (16.05) 85 126 (41)
130 MIAMI FL 133.39 118.67 (14.72) 17 73 (56)
129 NORTHERN ILLINOIS 116.15 105.08 (11.07) 86 117 (31)
128 NEVADA 110.81 100.23 (10.58) 102 127 (25)
127 BOSTON COLLEGE 121.44 111.18 (10.26) 60 98 (38)
126 OKLAHOMA ST 135.76 127.38 (8.38) 9 42 (33)
125 CENTRAL MICHIGAN 115.75 107.41 (8.34) 87 111 (24)
124 NORTH CAROLINA ST 133.63 125.73 (7.89) 15 46 (31)
123 STANFORD 122.14 114.25 (7.89) 58 88 (30)
121 TEXAS A&M 136.54 128.89 (7.65) 8 37 (29)
121 VIRGINIA 122.63 114.98 (7.65) 57 85 (28)

The Eagles did this against a mediocre schedule…not awful, but still only 50th in the country by our metrics and similar rank for others who calculate this:

- 51st – Power Rankings Guru

o http://powerrankingsguru.com/college-football/strength-of-schedule.php

- 72nd – Team Rankings.com

o https://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/ranking/schedule-strength-by-other

- 48th – ESPN

o https://www.espn.com/college-football/fpi/_/view/resume/sort/resume.avgsosrank/dir/asc

Lastly on this note is Boston College’s strength of record…which is going to feed into further points below.

BC finished the regular season #115 in the country in strength of record, which we define as how the average top 25 team would perform against that schedule. This is done by determining the power rating of the top 25 on a weekly basis, then understanding the probability the team in question would win that game and comparing it to the average top 25 team.

I started this method later in the season and haven’t gone back to review what it would have looked like prior to the year, but by year’s end, the average top 25 team would be expected to win 9.1 games and lose 2.9 games where BC finished 3-9.

For comparison, check out ESPN:

- https://www.espn.com/college-football/fpi/_/view/resume

Team Roster Scores

The above scenarios are all ones that were derived from numbers created by The Book, what is below though, may be the most telling of all. No it doesn’t explain completely why BC didn’t get to the 6 ½ wins Vegas laid out or even the just under 6 we predicted, but it takes a look at how recruiting plays into how well a team should be expected to do against their schedule.

The concept below was taken from the following article in Football Outsiders (https://www.footballoutsiders.com/college-football/2018/schedule-strength-college-football) and was originally published in October of 2018. The goal of this is to use recruiting rankings to compare teams, determining which teams are most equipped to handle the schedule they play.

Recruiting of course isn’t everything, but the results do generally corroborate well to results.

Below then is the same concept updated to the 2022 season. Click the link to see the chart.

CFB Resource Ratio 2022

What then does this say?

- It uses the recruiting and transfer rating numbers from 24/7 sports, weights them 5% for the most current recruiting class (2022) and then gradually higher (15% for 2021, 25% for 2020 and 30% for both the 2019 season and transfer portal for this year. It then averages the values for the Power Five opponents a team will play and creates a resource ratio rating.

- Teams with lower values are less able to handle the schedule they play, teams with high values, more able to handle the schedule, based on the talent they’ve accumulated. It assumes that a Power Five team is stronger than any non Power Five team it will play…a bit of a stretch for sure, but not outlandish

- As you can see, BC is not well positioned, ninth from the bottom. Of the teams on the negative side of the chart, some have had really good years. Kansas State is 13th on this list and went to the Sugar Bowl, Oregon State won 10 games …but if you are on this side of the aisle, you are at an inherent disadvantage in comparison to the teams you will play.

- Conversely, the usual suspects are well positioned..including all four of the CFP participants, including TCU. Teams that on the left side of this and didn’t do well, underachieved, some more than others.

Team Roster Scores Advantage vs Opposition

Which finally brings us to the chart below.

On the vertical (Y) access are the number of total games a team played in the 2022 season where their Team Roster Score (the aggregate recruiting number from above) is greater than their opponents and the horizontal (X) access is the average strength of schedule of those opponents.

The chart is then divided into four quadrants with the horizontal line representing 6 wins for bowl eligibility and the vertical line showing the average opponent TRS.

The top right quadrant then shows the strongest teams who played the toughest schedules, in other words, they were the most able to play the schedule put in front of them. As you can see, most of this is the SEC.

The bottom right quadrant is the rest of the SEC and then some odds and ends teams. Georgia Tech gets right on that dividing line because they play Clemson and Georgia every year.

The top left quadrant represents strong teams with weaker schedules, well equipped to play them.

The bottom left then is where BC sits. A weaker overall schedule and not well equipped to play it, where in only three of its games (Maine, Connecticut and Wake Forest) were against teams it is viewed to have a better team roster score than.

Click the link below to view the Team Roster Score.

Team Roster Score 2022

Based on this then, BC should have wound up the season 3-9.

Pythagorean Win/Loss – Were The Eagles lucky or unlucky?

Famed baseball analytics expert Bill James, created a formula called Pythagorean expectation, which sought to show by total runs scored, if a team over-performed (i.e got lucky) or under-performed (i.e. didn’t get lucky).

No reason that the process can’t be applied to college football and based on that, here are the over and under performers for 2022. Rather than use points for the entire season, I’ve gone game by game to reduce the impact of any one game, FCS contests, etc

Not surprisingly, all of the CFP participants over-achieved in relation to what the scores said.

What is interesting though is that TCU, Michigan and Georgia, all finished in the top seven of that category, each winning a game and half or more vs what was expected based on the score of their games. TCU was #1 in the country therefore in luck at +2.72 games.

Boston College finished on the negative side of this, although just barely, at -0.34.

Click the links below to see the lucky and the unlucky.

Lucky Teams 2022

Unlucky Teams 2022

The CFP Title Game Pick

Despite a history of not doing well in bowl games, we did this year. The Book finished 23-16 with one push and one game where we picked the exact same spread as Vegas for a .590 win percentage.

In the CFP semifinals, we had winners against both the spread and money line with Georgia a 3.2 point favorite and lost both against the spread and ML in the other semi, where we had Michigan an 8.1 point favorite

In the title game, taking the Dawgs, but TCU to cover with Georgia an 8.4 point favorite, with a 65.5% probability to win.

Of note, while Georgia is the number one team in the country in terms of power rating and strength of record, TCU is only ranked 8th in terms of power rating. The Frogs began the season #42 in our rankings and were a nearly 20 point underdog to Georgia on a neutral field had the game been played at that time.

Next Week

The final season ratings, records against the spread and our place in the Prediction Tracker ratings, all will be shared next week..along with "fingers crossed" another interesting insight I am working on.

Enjoy the Natty and Go Eagles!