In December of 2011 and January of 2012, fans of college football and EA SPORTS NCAA Football 12 helped cover all 35 Bowl Games here at STAT BOX STORIES for the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL. This week, we’re taking a look at some of the statistics that came out of those 35 games. In today’s final statistical installment, we look at overall team statistics and try to follow trends from the games that were played.
Over the course of the 35 Bowl Games played for the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL, 80% of the games were won by the human-controlled team; a testament to the skill level of the contributors involved, perhaps. The average margin of victory across all of the games was by 15 points, which is a bit surprising to see that just over two touchdowns separated most teams in these games; that said, there were a fair amount of one-sided contests. The seven wins by computer-controlled teams came in the following games:
Marshall over FIU in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl
Ohio over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Missouri over North Carolina in the Independence Bowl
Purdue over Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Mississippi State over Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl
Iowa State over Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl
TCU over Louisiana Tech in the Poinsettia Bowl
In the 35 Bowl Games, four games were actually decided by over 30 points! The two most lopsided games–the Alamo Bowl and the TicketCity.com Bowl–saw the winning team finish the game 38 points ahead of their opponents. Cal took down the Longhorns of Texas by 32 points in the Holiday Bowl, and Michigan beat Virginia Tech in a shutout by 31 points.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, four games were separated by only a field goal when time expired; the BBVA Compass Bowl, the Champs Sports Bowl, the Music City Bowl, and the New Orleans Bowl. Three of those closes games ended in favor of a human-controlled team, with only Mississippi State’s win coming from a computer-controlle squad. The Hawai’i Bowl, Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, and MAACO Bowl Las Vegas all ended with 4 point wins.
The graphic above represents the overall averages per team, per game, in nearly all of the overall categories tracked in NCAA Football 12; the only glaring exceptions from inclusion are 3rd Down, 4th Down, and 2 Point Conversion numbers, since there was no standard of how those data pieces were tracked by contributors. The scoring average was just over 25 ponts per game, with offenses averaging 315.01 yards per game. Of those yards, rushing accounted for 121.17 on average while passing accounted for 192.6 yards. Even though passing accounted for more yards on average, more touchdowns per game came as a result of scores on the grounds. Interceptions accounted for nearly twice as many turnovers as fumbles, showing that keeping the ball on the ground in the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL was the much safer option. Finally–factoring in special teams yardage–the average Total Yards per team was 445.24 yards per game.
In comparing the per game averages in those same categories for human-controlled versus computer-controlled teams, it becomes clear as to why human teams won 80% of the games in the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL. Out of the 20 categories tracked, computer-controlled teams only outperformed human-controlled teams in six of them. Human teams scored nearly 12 points more on average, and all offensive categories except for number of completions and number of pass attempts went in favor of human players. Computer-controlled offenses suffered more turnovers, though human players threw 0.01 more interceptions per game on average.
Now, to look at the Top 10 performances by team across 18 different statistical categories. The first category–most points scored–shows a number of high-potency offenses in the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL. West Virginia’s 59-point performance in the Orange Bowl put them in the #1 spot, while Cal and Baylor also dropped over 50 points on their opponents in the Holiday Bowl and Alamo Bowl respectively. Six teams scored in the 40’s, including the lone computer-controlled team on the Top 10, Purdue.
On the flip side of this category, 9 teams in the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL were held to 10 points or less by stifling defenses. One shutout occurred; Michigan kept Virginia Tech from putting any points on the board in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama and Kansas State held their opponents to field goals in their respective Bowl Games, while Texas A&M held Northwestern to two field goals in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. The only computer-controlled defense to make the Top 10 list here was Mississippi State, who held Wake Forest to 7 points in a hard-fought 10-7 victory in the Music City Bowl.
In a one-sided shootout at the Alamo Bowl, the Baylor Bears put 497 yards of offense up against Washington and easily took the top spot for most offensive yards in the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL. Oklahoma State’s Fiesta Bowl performance came in at #2, but their 474 yards of offense were still 23 yards shy of Baylor. Three computer-controlled offenses made the Top 10, starting with Illinois and their 447 yards in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against UCLA in a losing effort.
Given how much the computer-controlled teams were largely held in check, it is surprising to see that the best defensive effort in terms of holding a team to the fewest yards on offense belonged to computer-controlled Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl; the Bulldogs held Wake Forest to 88 yards of offense, which was the only offensive yardage total under 100. The rest of the top performances largely belong to human-controlled teams, starting with Georgia’s stout defense which held Michigan State to 101 yards in the Outback Bowl. In all, eight defenses held their opposing teams to under 200 yards of offense.
With a 72-yard advantage over the next team, SMU’s 480 yars of passing ranked them #1 in the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL. Surprisingly, the second-place team was a computer-controlled opponent–indeed, computer teams accounted for an even five on the Top 10 list–in a BYU squad which put up 402 yards through the air in a double-0vertime showdown with Tulsa. In all, nine offenses passed for over 300 yards across the 35 Bowl Games.
In another surprise, the computer-controlled teams took six spots in the Top 10 for fewest passing yards allowed in a game for the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL. Utah took the top spot in allowing only 11 passing yards for Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, though the Yellow Jackets are an option offense and handily won the game. Mississippi State kept Wake Forest to just 23 yards passing in a winning effort in the Music City Bowl, while the first human-controlled team on the list comes with Texas A&M and their win over Northwestern where the Wildcats were held to just 49 yards passing. In all, nine defenses held their opponents to under 100 yards passing; including both defenses in the BCS National Championship Game between Alabama and LSU.
Moving to the other side of the offense, the team with the highest rushing yards total in the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL was Toledo with 327 in the Military Bowl, narrowly beating out the 320-yard performance by Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. Penn State also crossed the 300-yard barrier in rushing in the TicketCity.com Bowl against Houston. The only computer-controlled team to make this Top 10 list was Air Force, whose 242-yard performance in the Military Bowl came in a losing effort against the Rockets of Toledo. In all, nine teams had rushing performances of over 200 yards.
After looking at so of those high rushing totals, it is incredible to see that four teams actually finished games in the negative for rushing yards in the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL. Pitt may have lost the BBVA Compass Bowl to human-controlled SMU, but the Panthers held the Mustangs to -9 rushing yards in the process. Computer-controlled Ohio held Utah State to -7 rushing yards in their Famous Idaho Potato Bowl win while the first human-controlled defense on the list was Georgia in the Outback Bowl, who held Michigan State to -3 yards rushing.
Combining offensive yards with special teams, the West Virginia Mountaineers and their 783 yard performance against Clemson in the Orange Bowl gave them top billing for the team with the most total yards in the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL. The next-highest total was 107 yards less, a 676-yard performance by Arizona State against Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Four other teams finished games with over 600 total yards; Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Baylor in the Alamo Bowl, and SMU in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Two computer-controlled teams made the Top 10; Texas with 590 yards in the Holiday Bowl, and NIU with 554 yards in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
In the last “direct comparison” category, the team yielding the fewest total yards to an opponent was Georgia, who held Michigan State to 127 total yards in the Outback Bowl. Computer-controlled Mississippi State held Wake Forest to 168 total yards in the Music City Bowl, and human-controlled Alabama held LSU to 222 yards in the BCS National Championship Game. Nebraska and South Carolina–opponents in the Capital One Bowl–finished 4th and 5th respectively for fewest total yards allowed. In an interesting statistic, Michigan comes in at #10 on the list by allowing 320 total yards to Virginia Tech… in a shutout.
To round out the rest of the statistical categories, here are a few more Top 10 Lists of team performances. The most passing attempts in a game came from Florida International, who threw the ball 48 times in a Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl loss. The first computer-controlled entry on the list was Texas in the Holiday Bowl, with 45 passing attempts. In all, four teams passed the ball over 40 times in a game, with those teams having a 1-3 record in their games.
Teams with 40 or more rushing attempts in a game–in a stark contrast to the passing attempt statistics above–actually went 10-0 in their Bowl Games. Toledo rushed 48 times in the Military Bowl against Air Force to lock up the top spot, followed closely by Tulsa’s 47 rushes in the Armed Forces Bowl. Cincinnati, Notre Dame, and Michigan all rushed 44 times in their games. Perhaps it is more advantageous to establish a run game than to get a pass game going; or maybe I’m being biased because–of these Top 10 rush attempts–I was controlling eight of the teams.
The Arizona State Sun Devils and their 279 yards on kickoff returns in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas gave them the top spot in that category for the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL. Next up were West Virginia and Western Michigan, who each finished with 273 kick return yards. Five computer-controlled teams made this Top 10 list, beginning with Clemson’s 216 yards in the Orange Bowl at #4. In all, five teams ended up with over 200 yards on kick returns across the 35 Bowl Games.
Everyone knows that first downs are important to keep your offense on the field; the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL statistics echo this sentiment, as 7 of the Top 10 teams in terms of Most First Downs ended up winning their games. The only exceptions: Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Temple in the New Mexico Bowl, and FIU in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. Virginia held down the top spot with 23 first downs converted in the Chick-fil-a Bowl, followed by computer-controlled Missouri and human-controlled Baylor (21 first downs each).
When it comes to categories you don’t want to lead in, Most Turnovers is definitely one of them; of the Top 10 teams on this list, only two teams managed to emerge victorious: Arizona State in the MAACO Bowl Las Veas, and West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Houston, Clemson, and those Sun Devils led all teams with five turnovers; the Cougars and Tigers each lost two fumbles and threw three interceptions, while Arizona State lost a fumble and threw four interceptions. Temple, FIU, and Oregon all suffered four turnovers solely by way of the interception.
In another category that no team seeks to reach #1 for, Air Force racked up the most penalty calls and yards in the Military Bowl with 9 penalties for 96 yards total; not very disciplined for a service academy! UCLA’s 8 penalties for 92 yards in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl came in second, while Tulsa, Virginia Tech, and Alabama all were called for 7 penalties in their Bowl Games. In all, nine teams in the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL were called for 6 or more penalties in a game. Amazingly, five of the Top 10 teams on this list still managed to win their games.
Being forced to punt often and make the top of that list in the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL was also a sign of bad luck for teams hoping to win their games; of the Top 10 here, only 3 teams won: Arkansas Sate, Iowa, and Georgia Tech (all human-controlled). North Carolina’s 8 punts in the Independence Bowl was the single-highest of the 35 Bowl Games, while Arkansas State and Arkansas each punted 7 times in their Bowl Games. In all, nine teams were forced to punt 6 or more times.
After a few “disappointing” Top 10 lists, we’ll end today’s entry with a more positive one: Highest Average per Punt. Alabama–winners of the BCS National Championship Game over LSU–led the way with a punt average of 55.0 yards. Oklahoma State and Cal also topped the 50-yard-average mark, with the Cowboys getting 53.0 yards per punt and the Golden Bears getting 52.8 yards. The first computer-controlled team to make the Top 10 was Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl with a 47.7 yards per punt average.
A big week of statistical analysis from the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL comes to a close here at STAT BOX STORIES tomorrow as we look at how closely the results of these 35 Bowl Games from NCAA Football 12 were able to predict the real-life results from the college football Bowl Season. You won’t want to miss it!