Football Study Hall's Bill Connelly took a stab at determining college football's second order wins in an attempt to gauge just how lucky or unlucky teams were this season. The whole idea is to use advanced stats of some sort to determine not simply what you did score and allow, but what you should have scored and allowed. So Boston College won seven games this year...how many would they have won given their component offensive and defensive statistics?
Boston College finished as one of the more unlucky teams in college football this year with a second order win total of 8.1 (so, a +1.1 difference on their actual win total). Of course, you don't need advanced statistics to remind you of close calls against Colorado State, Clemson and Florida State.
The good news is that the difference between wins and second-order wins happens to be a pretty good indicator of progression or regression. According to Connelly, "the 13 schools with a difference between plus-1 and plus-2 saw their win percentage increase by an average of 0.094." While BC's year-over-year win-loss record was flat, an encouraging sign that things remain headed in the right direction with the football program; all despite playing a moderately more difficult schedule in 2014.
On the flipside, defending National Champion Florida State got by on smoke and mirrors a bit all season. The Seminoles' difference between wins and second-order wins was -3.4, the highest in the nation. Again, you didn't need advanced statistics to tell you that FSU got somewhat lucky in games against Clemson, Notre Dame, Miami, Boston College, Florida and Georgia Tech, but interesting to see things quantified in this way nonetheless. Florida State was joined by Clemson (-1.4), North Carolina (-1.3) and Duke (-1.1) as the more fortunate teams in the ACC in 2014. Boston College (1.1) was only topped by, of all teams, Pittsburgh (2.2), who managed to lose games it had no business losing (e.g. Iowa, Akron, Virginia, Duke, North Carolina...)