Publish date:

Winning Box Scores: Week 2

Tracking how often passing yards, rushing yards, scoring first, leading at halftime and winning the turnover battle correlates with winning

In case you missed it, last week we started tracking how often the following five statistics correlate with victory: rushing yards, passing yards, scoring first, leading at halftime and winning the turnover battle. For rationale, check out on why we settled on those five, check last week's post.

As for Week 2, here's how each game's victor won each statistic:

Rushing yards: 67-13 (.838)
Passing yards: 55-25 (.688)
Scoring first: 61-20 (.753)
Leading at halftime: 66-12 (.846)
Winning turnovers: 48-15 (.762)
Quinfecta: 22-0 (1.000)

Year to date:

Rushing yards: 140-28 (.833)
Passing yards: 107-61 (.637)
Scoring first: 130-39 (.769)
Leading at halftime: 137-26 (.840)
Winning turnovers: 99-31 (.762)
Quinfecta: 34-0 (1.000)

-- Teams that pull off a quinfecta (winning all five categories) win by an average of 49-9. Two games, though, only saw 9-point spreads between winner and loser: BYU 26, Utah 17; New Mexico 34, New Mexico State 25. 

-- Nevada came oh so close to making quinfectas 35-0. The Wolf Pack were out-rushed by a single yard but won every other metric in their 49-10 stomping of Idaho State. 

-- Part of the reason we track quinfectas is because, eventually, someone will lose all five metrics but win the game anyway, and we'd like to quantify exactly how rare that will be when it happens. We nearly had two this week. TCU lost every stat but rushing yards (271-133) and beat Cal, 34-32. South Carolina allowed a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the game, trailed 14-7 at the half, lost turnovers 3-2, and lost the rushing battle (albeit by 10 yards) but still beat East Carolina, 20-17. Louisiana was out-rushed and out-passed by Nicholls State, produced and surrendered one takeaway, but won 27-24. 

-- Notre Dame and Toledo both rushed for exactly 132 yards. Our first rushing tie of the season. 

-- Vanderbilt and Colorado State both threw for exactly 238 yards, our first passing tie of the year. Vandy was also nearly doubled up on the ground (207-104) and played to a draw in takeaways (1-1) but won 24-21. 

-- In 169 FBS-involved games thus far, only six (3.6%) were tied at the half. 

-- A handful of teams were out-rushed and out-passed but won anyway. They all have one thing in common: a blowout on the turnover ledger. Iowa (+4 takeaways) 27, Iowa State 27; Wyoming (+3) 50, Northern Illinois 43; Rutgers (+5) 17, Syracuse 7; Mississippi State (+3) 24, NC State 10.

-- Mississippi State-NC State has to be our most rushing-indifferent game of the entire season. Mississippi State rushed 15 times for 22 yards; NC State carried 25 times for 32 yards.

-- Army's 38-35 win over Western Kentucky may be the most lopsided rushing and passing totals of the season. WKU out-passed Army 435-77, and Army won the ground game 339-42. 

-- One of the criticisms this project took last week from the stats community went something like this: "Duhhh, teams that get the lead run the ball to bleed the clock and losing teams throw to try to catch up." And there's undoubtedly a lot of truth there. No one ever said otherwise. 

But in any game with wide disparities between run and pass, the team that wins the trench warfare tends to win the game. Army-WKU is one example. Another: Washington out-passed Michigan 293-44, Michigan out-rushed Washington 343-50, and Michigan won the game 31-10. 

-- Another example, from perhaps the most un-Texas Tech box score ever. Stephen F. Austin out-passed the Red Raiders 343-163 and was plus-4 in takeaways, but Tech out-rushed the Lumberjacks 201-32 in a 28-22 Tech victory.

-- Week 2 gave us some wild disparities in total yardage. Marshall out-gained North Carolina Central 700-177 in a 44-10 win, Western Michigan out-gained Illinois State 407-57 in a 28-0 shutout. 

-- Teams that pull off quinfectas are 34-0, but those 34 wins were accomplished by 33 teams. One has done it twice: Alabama. The Tide are winning on the ground 305-159, through the air 620-159, in turnovers 5-1, and their cumulative first-half score is 58-3.