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The most important stat in football.... is still the most important stat in football

Every year I like to take a look at how turnover margin correlates with winning, because every year I'm surprised at just how strong that correlation is. I wanted to peek at the numbers a bit earlier this season to see if they swayed one way or another due to a smaller sample size.

Turns out, the cream is already starting to separate itself from the crop.

To this point in the season, 38 teams have registered a turnover margin of +1.0 or greater. Those 38 teams have a combined record of 82-19. Of those 38, 20 are undefeated and all but two are .500 or greater (Western Michigan and Tulane). What's more, three of those 19 losses have come within the group -- Arizona's only loss came to Houston, and the same is true for Kansas State (Vanderbilt), NC State (South Carolina), and South Carolina (Kentucky).

Team

Turnover Margin

Record

Texas A&M

+2.67

2-1

Penn State

+2.33

3-0

South Florida

+2.00

3-0

Alabama

+2.00

3-0

Central Florida

+2.00

1-0

Miami

+2.00

1-0

SMU

+1.67

2-1

Kansas State

+1.67

2-1

San Diego State

+1.67

3-0

Ohio State

+1.67

2-1

Virginia Tech

+1.67

3-0

Wake Forest

+1.67

3-0

Houston

+1.50

2-0

Texas Tech

+1.50

2-0

Maryland

+1.50

2-0

California

+1.33

3-0

Wyoming

+1.33

1-2

Duke

+1.33

3-0

South Carolina

+1.33

2-1

Kentucky

+1.33

3-0

Western Michigan

+1.33

1-2

Arizona

+1.33

2-1

Washington

+1.33

3-0

Minnesota

+1.33

3-0

NC State

+1.33

2-1

Iowa State

+1.33

2-1

Vanderbilt

+1.33

3-0

Central Michigan

+1.00

2-1

Utah

+1.00

3-0

Purdue

+1.00

2-1

Washington State

+1.00

3-0

Tulane

+1.00

1-2

Virginia

+1.00

2-1

LSU

+1.00

2-1

Memphis

+1.00

2-0

Eastern Michigan

+1.00

2-0

Conversely, there is no faster way to lose a game than to lose the turnover battle. Twenty-eight teams carry an average of minus-1.0 or greater, and those 28 teams are a combined 25-52 on the year. Eight are winless.

Team

Turnover Margin

Record

Georgia State

-4.50

0-2

Florida State

-3.00

0-1

East Carolina

-2.33

0-3

Indiana

-2.00

1-1

Charlotte

-2.00

0-3

Rice

-1.67

1-2

Nevada

-1.67

0-3

Idaho

-1.67

1-2

Missouri

-1.67

1-2

Boston College

-1.67

1-2

Auburn

-1.67

2-1

Oregon State

-1.50

1-3

San Jose State

-1.50

1-3

Florida International

-1.50

1-1

Middle Tennessee

-1.33

1-2

Baylor

-1.33

0-3

Massachusetts

-1.00

0-4

Old Dominion

-1.00

2-1

Texas State

-1.00

1-2

Kansas

-1.00

1-2

Louisiana Tech

-1.00

2-1

Utah State

-1.00

1-2

New Mexico

-1.00

1-2

Navy

-1.00

2-0

UNLV

-1.00

1-1

Connecticut

-1.00

1-1

Louisiana-Monroe

-1.00

0-2

Auburn Old Dominion and Navy stand out as clear outliers here. (Auburn especially; the Tigers are minus-7 in their two wins and were plus-2 in their loss to Clemson.) Either their turnover margins will change, or their winning percentages will.

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