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Who were the luckiest (and unluckiest) teams in college football this season?

A football is an oblong-shaped orb of destiny that sometimes has a mind of its own. It takes some funny bounces, and those bounces can decide a season. Your quarterback gets sacked and stripped, but the ball bounces right into your center's gut, and you hold on to win the game. A deflected pass flutters into the arms of an opposing linebacker, and you lose the game. 

In the advanced stats community, they spend a lot of time study turnovers, and the teams that get them (and don't get them). The generally accepted figures state that teams should expect to recover 50 percent of all available fumbles, and intercept 22 percent of all passes defended. Vary too far away from the median, and lady luck is often to blame (or thank). 

Stats guru Bill Connelly tracked every fumble and every pass deflection throughout the 2013 season, thereby discovering the luckiest and unluckiest teams in college football. Oklahoma, for instance, recovered nine of 14 opponent fumbles and 13 of their own 18 fumbles, meaning they fell on the ball an exceptional 68.8 percent of the time. On the other side of the ledger, Akron recovered only 31.4 percent of available fumbles. Consequently, Connelly notes, Oklahoma went 3-0 in games decided by seven points or less on their way to an 11-2 season, while Akron went 4-3 in one-score games and 5-7 on the season. Flip their luck around, and perhaps both teams go 8-5. 

Here are the 10 luckiest and unluckiest teams of 2013 in both fumbles and interceptions:

Fumbles
1. Oklahoma - 68.8% of all available fumbles
2. Bowling Green - 67.7%
3. Wisconsin - 65.8%
4. Massachusetts - 65.7%
5. Temple - 64.3%
6. Ball State - 63.9%
7. East Carolina - 63.3%
8. Miami (Ohio) - 62.9%
9. Houston - 62.8%
10. Mississippi State - 62.5%

Note that seven of the 10 made bowl games last season - and the other three went a combined 3-33. Even luck couldn't help Massachusetts, Miami (Ohio) and Temple.

116. Notre Dame - 36.8%
117. Northwestern - 36.4%
118. Alabama - 35.3%
119. LSU - 35.1%
120. San Jose State - 34.8%
121. Marshall - 34.5%
122. UL - Monroe - 33.3%
122. Pittsburgh - 33.3%
122. Troy - 33.3%
125. Akron - 31.4%

Interceptions (Note: These numbers reflect how far each club's interception totals deviate from the accepted rate of 22 percent of their own deflected passes being intercepted and 22 percent of their opponents deflected passes being intercepted.)
1. South Carolina - 22.4%
2. Oregon State - 20.7%
3. Houston - 19.6%
4. Navy - 17.2%
5. Louisville - 16.5%
6. Ball State - 13.9%
7. Arizona - 13.8%
8. Missouri - 13.5%
9. Michigan State - 13.3%
10. Florida State - 12.6%

Again, this is a group of highly successful teams. In fact, three of the top four ranked teams in the country were among the 10 luckiest in coming down with interceptions. As they say, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

116. UTEP - (-11.7%)
117. Iowa State - (-11.8%)
118. Wisconsin - (-12.2%)
119. Indiana - (-13.5%)
120. Southern Miss (-14.6%)
121. Temple - (-15.1%)
122. Illinois - (-15.3%)
123. Duke - (-17.0%)
124. Kansas State - (-18.3%)
125. Utah - (-25.4%)

Overall (I'll let Connelly explain the methodology here)
1. Houston
2. Ball State
3. Mississippi State
4. Oregon State
5. Florida State
6. Missouri
7. South Carolina
8. Buffalo
9. East Carolina
10. Michigan

Ultimately, as 2013 blends into 2014, this is a list you don't want to be on. Luck has a way of evening itself out over a large sample size, so these squads should expect a regression to the mean next season. Those extra turnovers gained in 2013 may be paid for in 2014.

Take a look at the circumstantial evidence. Houston, Missouri and Buffalo each enjoyed bumps of three wins or more. South Carolina went 4-1 in games decided by seven points or less, as was Mississippi State

116. Cincinnati
117. Alabama
118. Vanderbilt
119. Kansas State
120. Pittsburgh
121. Indiana
122. Southern Miss
123. Troy
124. Rutgers
125. Utah

Conversely, this is a portion of the list you do want to find yourself on, because chances are the ball's funny bounces will find their way into your players' arms in 2014. 

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