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Kentucky Football: F/+ Preview of Match-Up Against Ohio Bobcats

A weekly look at how the F/+ advanced statistical model projects the upcoming Kentucky football match-up.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Last season A Sea of Blue used the F/+ adjusted stats to preview Kentucky games (here's an example), and the model largely provided accurate results. We'll be doing the same this season with the inaugural post comparing Kentucky's football team to The University of Ohio Bobcats. Importantly, these ratings are taking into account Week One performances and preseason data, so a grain of salt is required. As the season progresses, and more data is accumulated, the numbers should gain more accuracy.

A reminder:

The S&P+ rankings, combined with the FEI rankings, provide the overall F/+ ranking.

S&P+ was created by Bill Connelly. Connelly is an author at SBNation, RockMNation, Football Study Hall and Football Outsiders. S&P+ is an advanced statistical measure which combines success rate, explosiveness per play and opponent adjustments.

FEI is the Fremeau Efficiency Index, created by Brian Fremeau. Fremeau is an author at Football Outsiders, ESPN and BCFToys. FEI is an advanced statistical measure for college football that tracks drive efficiency instead of per-play success.

This is how Fremeau and Connelly describe their ratings:

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) considers each of the nearly 20,000 possessions every season in major college football. All drives are filtered to eliminate first-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores. A scoring rate analysis of the remaining possessions then determines the baseline possession expectations against which each team is measured. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams - win or lose; and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams.

The S&P+ Ratings are a college football ratings system derived from both play-by-play and drive data from all 800+ of a season's FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays). There are four key components to the S&P+

If interested, here is a glossary that might be of additional use.

Lastly, keep in mind that the F/+ percentage ratings measure every team against a perfectly average team. So, if the F/+ rating of a team is 0% that team is considered perfectly average by this rating system.


Kentucky versus Ohio




F/+ (Overall)

63 (-0.9%) 

 107 (-12.6%)

S&P+ Rk (Offense)

20 (114.5) 

97 (87.4) 

S&P+ Rk (Defense)

93 (90.0) 

 82 (94.9)

FEI Rk (Overall)

 77 (-0.056)

 109 (-0.173)

FEI Game Projection

28-15 (Kentucky)



According to the F/+ ratings, Kentucky is the favorite against Ohio, and the Vegas line of UK -13 is aligned with the FEI Game Projection. UK has a distinct advantage offensively as S&P+'s 20th ranked offense goes against Ohio's S&P+'s 82nd ranked defense. For comparison's sake, Kent State's offense, ranked 116th, managed to scored 14 points against Ohio last week. Kentucky should easily top that.

The strength of Ohio's defense appears to be its rushing defense which held Kent State to 31 total rushing yards. UK has struggled in short yardage situations since Neal Brown's arrival, and will continue to be tested again this Saturday. UK's wide range of play-makers should be adequate enough to put points on the scoreboard, but short yardage conversions will make the difference between a blow-out and a close game heading into the second half. UK's inability to convert in short-yardage, and therefore to string together drives, is also a major reason FEI ranks UK show much lower than S&P+.

In my opinion, if UK runs the ball well this should be the week that center Jon Toth wins the SEC Linemen of the Week award. Toth, Ramsey Meyers, and Zach West will need to up their games this week.

S&P+ projects UK's 93rd ranked defense to be on par with Ohio's 97th ranked offense. Ohio rushed for 175 yards against Kent State, and will look to replicate UT-Martin's success running the ball against UK. An Ohio game plan of running the ball, soaking up time of possession, and keeping UK's offense off the field may be the elected strategy.

The flaw in that plan could be turnovers. Ohio committed four turnovers against Kent State, while UK is coming off the high of causing five of its own against UT-Martin. Turnovers negate a lot of things; total yards and time of possession included. The wildcard may be Ohio's mobile quarterback Derrius Vick who threw for 260 yards and rushed for another 35 yards last week.

It will be interesting to see if UK schemes specifically for Vick, or if they choose to emphasize typical assignment defense and fundamental play. Probably the latter. Also, as Will Washington stated earlier this week, the defensive tackles and linebackers need to play better. Nose tackles and secondary, keep doing your thing.


It's still early, so we don't yet have access to the adjusted stats that reflect more specifics like pass and rush defense efficiency, standard downs defense, etc. so a more specific outlook for the UK-Ohio game is not currently possible. Suffice it to say, UK should be able to put points on the board at a rate that outpaces Ohio's more plodding offense. What UK fans should key on is how UK performs in short-yardage situations both offensively and defensively.

The game could become interesting if UK commits turnovers, or allows explosive plays from Ohio; otherwise, UK should win comfortably.