College Football Analytics: Week 3 Recap

Recapping some of the notable games of the weekend, with advanced stats!

Another week of the 2021 College Football season bites the dust. Do we know who the elite teams are in college football? Not really. Do we still have questions about a lot of teams? We certainly do. But above all, did we have a lot of fun this weekend? You bet we did! Let’s take a look back at some of the notable games.

*Note* During the season if I miss a certain game in my recaps, simply email ( DM on Twitter (@CFBNumbers) and I will happily provide you any number related thing you desire.

Also, I use Expected Points Added rather frequently in these recaps. If you need help digesting the decimals, I wrote about how to make it easier to read EPA/Play numbers.

Louisville 42 - UCF 35

The weekend started off with a rollercoaster finish on Friday as Louisville downed UCF on a game winning pick six. UCF has been the victim of a couple pick sixes that have tanked their passing EPA, but even if you take out that last play their passing game is still lacking what it once had under Josh Heupel. To make matters worse, they lose Dillon Gabriel to a collarbone injury.

The player of the game was far and away Malik Cunningham. Successful, explosive, limited EP lost to turnovers and sacks, and got it down through the air and on the ground. This is exactly what we expected coming into this season from Cunningham. The question is, can he continue to produce like this on a consistent basis?

Oklahoma 23 - Nebraska 16

A little bit of an uncharacteristic day for the Oklahoma Sooner offense, but they got it done against Nebraska. Despite a lack of explosiveness, Oklahoma was successful on 58% of its plays, and both passing and rushing EPA was a healthy positive.

It was a clean sheet for Spencer Rattler, but he was still upstaged by Adrian Martinez. I could be wrong but Martinez seems to get a bad rap from certain Nebraska fans, but he isn’t the reason for the struggles. He was successful, explosive, and even with the interception got it done through the air. Nebraska is still struggling to put wins on the board, but it certainly isn’t due to lack of good QB play.

Cincinnati 38 - Indiana 24

Despite the 62 total points, there were a lot of defensive successes/offensive failures in this game, as you can see from the 25+ combined EP lost to turnovers. A lot of lead changes and back and forth action, but in the end Cincinnati proved strong enough to get the victory. Cincinnati was stuffed on 28.6% of its runs, but still finished with a highly efficient 0.217 EPA/rush. That spells out explosive runs, and getting it done in high EP areas.

Alabama 31 - Florida 29

Woah woah hold up, Alabama won with only a 8.8% post game win expectancy? Hear me out on this one. Post game win expectancy looks at the stats of the game, and tells us if that game is played x amount of times, what the odds are a team wins that game with those stats. Looking at the box score, UF out gained Alabama on a per play basis, was more successful, and overall had a higher EPA/Play by a fairly decent margin. The only thing that Bama beat UF by a significant margin was Special Teams EPA:

Notre Dame 27 - Purdue 13

Notre Dame got the better of Purdue, and post game win expectancy says they were handily in control, but are Notre Dame fans still satisfied with their team this season? Overall a slightly negative performance on both the passing attack and the ground game. They kept a clean sheet as far as turnovers, but a lack of upside on the offensive side of the ball is something to continue to question from this Irish team this season.

Michigan State 38 - Miami 17

What a win for Mel Tucker and the Michigan State Spartans! They go into Coral Gables and deliver a convincing victory, and a clean sweep of the EPA box score. Elite numbers from the passing game and rushing attack, no EP lost to turnovers, and a good helping of explosive plays. Michigan State is 3-0 and Mel Tucker looks to be the right man for the job.

For Miami, turnovers doomed their chances. Their rushing attack cost them over half an expected point per rush, and there were not nearly enough explosive plays. Miami will need to do some soul searching offensively before they tackle the meat of their ACC schedule.

North Carolina 59 - Virginia 39

Holy offense! North Carolina out duels Virginia in a high scoring affair. The UNC offense was elite in the air and on the ground, was explosive, successful on 58.8% of their plays… that is about as dominant as you want in an offense. The only real negative for UNC was the EP lost to turnovers.

For Virginia they were elite in the passing game, but it just wasn’t enough to keep up with UNC’s offense. A theme for this Virginia offense this season is struggling in the run game while the passing game thrives. This was evident with a -0.260 EPA/Play and only 2.5 OL per carry.

Penn State 28 - Auburn 20

The nightcap prime time game saw Penn State down Auburn at home to take home this ranked matchup. Penn State was in control far more than the score shows, and this much due in part to the passing game led by Sean Clifford. Penn State was more explosive, more efficient, and get the EP lost to turnovers down. This was a great team win for Penn State, and a great bounce back year from the disaster of last year.

Quick Shoutout…

Matt Corral is your heisman front runner ladies and gentlemen. SEVEN total TD’s, 0.562 EPA/Play. Explosive on 40.9% of his plays. Enough said.

Power 5 QB Play

Group of 5 QB Play

If you’re wondering where your QB is, they either did not reach the minimum play requirement, or there was no ESPN QBR data available at the time of this graph creation.

If you want to dive in to the data like I do, check out @CFB_Data and @cfbfastR on Twitter, where you can learn how to get started in the world of College Football data analysis!

If you want to see more charts and one off analysis, follow my twitter page, @CFBNumbers

Cover Photo: Ben Jones |

Leave a comment