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Advanced Stats Give Penn State High Probability of Beating Indiana

Photo by Penn State Athletics

Penn State has more than an 88% chance to beat Indiana Saturday, according to advanced stats published by Parker Fleming.

Fleming (@statsowar) is a college football analyst whose forte is “stats, analysis and graphs,” according to his Twitter profile. He works for BetUS College Football and hosts the Purple Theory Podcast.

His calculations give Penn State a 88.16% chance to beat Indiana Saturday and improve to 7-2. Penn State’s points are projected at 32.34 and Indiana’s are 16.02. Obviously, college football doesn’t use decimals in its scores, so in short, Penn State is projected to win 32-16.

There’s a lot that goes into these projections, and all of it is on a graphic that Fleming posted to his Twitter account. The factors are:

  • Expected Points Added: A measure that translates yards to points in context. Penn State has the edge in this category. 
  • Success Rate: Any play with an EPA>0. Penn State leads in offensive success rate, 39.7% to 36.4%. Indians defensive success rate is 42.5% to Penn State’s 39.6%. 
  • Pts/Drive: Offensive touchdowns + Expected value of field goal attempts on drives. Fleming’s calculations give Penn State 0.95 net pts/drive and Indiana -0.432.
  • RROE: Rush rate over Expected— how much more often did you run than the average team in any given situation? Penn State’s is -1.8% to Indiana’s -13.8
  • Eckel: A measure of quality possessions and opportunity creation. Penn State is at 52.8% to Indiana’s 44.6.
  • Eary Downs: First and second downs.

Fleming has correctly predicted the winner in each of Penn State’s eight games. In last week’s showdown with Ohio State, he gave the Buckeyes a 90.71% chance to win, with 37.32 projected points to Penn State’s 19.06. Ohio State ended up winning, 44-31. Fleming also gave Michigan a 65.78% win probability (29.66 to 24.05). Michigan ended up rolling Penn State, 41-17.

Penn State and Indiana are scheduled to kick off in Bloomington Saturday at 3:30 on ABC.

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