The Gators will host South Carolina this Saturday in Gainesville. To analyze how the two teams match up with each other, I took a look at the most relevant statistics on offense, defense, and special teams as they apply to a head-to-head analysis. The main components looked at were offensive scoring per play, defensive scoring per play, field goal percentage, team talent, and achievement level of the team relative to their talent, which is a reflection of coaching. I utilized a series of data transformations and standardization to account for the weight of each variable. This puts all of the variables on even footing and minimizes distorting the results.
The above chart shows the breakdown. Florida has an adjusted advantage of 0.09 in scoring offense, 0.429 in scoring defense. The kickers are equal. Florida has a slight talent advantage. The talent is calculated by averaging out the 247 rating for all players with ratings on the rosters. Of note, this includes any player that has a talent rating, whether on scholarship or not. The ‘achieving’ category is obtained by comparing win percentage to the talent on the team relative to the rest of the SEC. This is done to measure how each team is doing within their group. Of course, some have harder schedules than others, but this serves as a good baseline. Both coaching staffs have their teams out-performing their talent (even though Florida didn’t do that last week). By the way, I am confident in this metric, because in the overall analysis of the SEC this year, Kentucky is the most overachieving team (wins to talent ratio). All of these factors give Florida a slight (z=0.264) advantage.
The real scary part, however, is the wildcard factor. For this game, it is the quarterbacks. Because QB play impact both offensive and defensive scoring, it isn’t included in the original model. Redundancy (known as multicollinearity to you other stats folks) can adversely affect the outcome. However, the difference in quarterback passing effectiveness (QB S5) is strongly in South Carolina’s favor. Jake Bentley has played about 41% better than Franks (this is derived from the empirical rule). Again, this is redundant- Bentley’s play has contributed to the offensive scoring per play for USC, just as Franks’ has for Florida. But this disparity is concerning to me. That being said, the Gators should win by a small margin at home. If Florida gets good to decent quarterback play, they should have no problem at all.