fumble50

Statistical Summer: Fumble Luck For 10 Powerhouse Schools Since 2005

On the final weekend before the FBS college football season begins, we’re talking about fumble luck here at The Student Section. Our first overview of the subject appears here.

In this companion piece, we look at 10 powerhouse schools through the prism of fumble luck since 2005. We’ll primarily list the statistics and duck in a brief comment where appropriate.

The schools surveyed in this piece are pairs of rivals or competitors in the power five conferences: Alabama and Auburn in the SEC; Clemson and Florida State in the ACC; Oklahoma and Texas in the Big 12; Michigan and Ohio State in the Big Ten; and Oregon and Stanford in the Pac-12.

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ALABAMA FUMBLE LUCK SINCE 2005

2005: 18 fumbles, 8 lost

2006: 19 fumbles, 10 lost

2007: 20 fumbles, 8 lost

2008: 19 fumbles, 10 lost

2009: 16 fumbles, 7 lost

2010: 21 fumbles, 10 lost

2011: 12 fumbles, 4 lost — It’s worth noting that had Alabama received a proper call on a simultaneous-possession play (which was incorrectly ruled an interception by LSU’s Eric Reid) in its one loss of the season, the Crimson Tide might have run the table in 2011.

2012: 24 fumbles, 12 lost

2013: 14 fumbles, 10 lost

Overall comment: Win or lose, up or down, Alabama has been conspicuously consistent in terms of fumbles lost, despite the coaching change from Mike Shula to Nick Saban.

AUBURN FUMBLE LUCK SINCE 2005

2005: 17 fumbles, 10 lost

2006: 18 fumbles, 10 lost

2007: 15 fumbles, 9 lost

2008: 23 fumbles, 13 lost

2009: 28 fumbles, 14 lost

2010: 20 fumbles, 10 lost

2011: 17 fumbles, 8 lost

2012: 20 fumbles, 10 lost

2013: 30 fumbles, 11 lost — The football fates smiled on Auburn last year in many ways. This was one of them. Recovering nearly two-thirds of a large number of fumbles? That’s part of how a special season unfolds. Again, though, Auburn was skilled enough to make use of this luck. In the companion piece linked to above, you’ll see that in the 2013 season, Utah lost only four fumbles but didn’t even make a bowl game. Auburn lost seven more fumbles, even with all of its fumble luck… and came within an eyelash of winning the national title. Some teams turn luck into results; others don’t.

CLEMSON FUMBLE LUCK SINCE 2005

2005: 15 fumbles, 5 lost

2006: 30 fumbles, 17 lost

2007: 15 fumbles, 6 lost

2008: 24 fumbles, 13 lost

2009: 26 fumbles, 11 lost

2010: 24 fumbles, 9 lost

2011: 23 fumbles, 12 lost — Clemson made the Orange Bowl this season. The fumble-luck numbers were ordinary, but a turbocharged offense and a solid defense saved the day.

2012: 19 fumbles, 7 lost

2013: 25 fumbles, 12 lost — See the 2011 note.

FLORIDA STATE FUMBLE LUCK SINCE 2005

2005: 19 fumbles, 8 lost — Remember that the Seminoles made the Orange Bowl in this season.

2006: 26 fumbles, 11 lost

2007: 21 fumbles, 12 lost

2008: 23 fumbles, 10 lost

2009: 26 fumbles, 13 lost

2010: 24 fumbles, 10 lost

2011: 19 fumbles, 7 lost

2012: 25 fumbles, 17 lost — This is part of why the Seminoles, despite winning the ACC and the Orange Bowl, failed to leave a strong impression on the minds of both fans and pundits in the 2012 season.

2013: 13 fumbles, 5 lost — Now that’s more like it. That’s what a dominant championship season looks like.

OKLAHOMA FUMBLE LUCK SINCE 2005

2005: 31 fumbles, 13 lost — No wonder Texas busted through and won the Big 12 in 2005.

2006: 33 fumbles, 22 lost — How the heck did OU beat out Texas for the Big 12 title this season, despite losing to the Longhorns in Dallas?

2007: 17 fumbles, 11 lost

2008: 13 fumbles, 2 lost — This is how you make the national championship game (well, that and being given the nod in a controversial three-way Big 12 South tie).

2009: 26 fumbles, 11 lost

2010: 23 fumbles, 6 lost — This is OU’s most recent Big 12 title. The road to that championship was paved with fumble-luck gold.

2011: 17 fumbles, 13 lost — Funny how when the fumble-luck pendulum swung the other way, the Sooners struggled.

2012: 20 fumbles, 9 lost

2013: 18 fumbles, 5 lost — Oklahoma’s offense wasn’t brilliant last season, but not losing fumbles helped a ton.

TEXAS FUMBLE LUCK SINCE 2005

2005: 35 fumbles, 9 lost — That’s 26 recovered fumbles (on offense alone, not even counting defense). Texas lived right in its national championship season nine years ago.

2006: 25 fumbles, 14 lost

2007: 21 fumbles, 8 lost

2008: 16 fumbles, 6 lost — This would have been good enough for a national title game appearance if the Big 12 South’s three-way tie had been handled differently.

2009: 17 fumbles, 12 lost — Texas overcame bad fumble luck to make the national title game. Ah, that piece of railing in Jerry Jones’ stadium…

2010: 20 fumbles, 13 lost

2011: 19 fumbles, 11 lost

2012: 15 fumbles, 5 lost — This didn’t mean a darn thing. Texas still failed to become “Texas.”

2013: 15 fumbles, 7 lost — See 2012.

MICHIGAN FUMBLE LUCK SINCE 2005

2005: 20 fumbles, 10 lost

2006: 13 fumbles, 4 lost — This is Michigan’s most recent Rose Bowl season. It’s not a mere coincidence.

2007: 29 fumbles, 13 lost — Michigan, though hardly great, was still pretty good this season, somehow (Chad Henne and Mike Hart — that’s how).

2008: 38 fumbles, 18 lost — Rich Rodriguez entered, and the fumble-luck chickens came home to roost.

2009: 29 fumbles, 13 lost

2010: 29 fumbles, 14 lost — RichRod, for all the ways in which he was wronged by Michigan administrators and leaders, never really solved the ball-security problem during his three seasons in Ann Arbor.

2011: 19 fumbles, 6 lost — Ball security (and fumble luck) immediately improved under Brady Hoke, though Denard Robinson’s constant flirtation with Miss Interception has to be noted as well.

2012: 17 fumbles, 8 lost — Denard Robinson’s relationship with Miss Interception intensified, especially against Notre Dame, making fumble luck less central to Michigan’s results than it was in 2011.

2013: 22 fumbles, 8 lost — Michigan’s had such great fumble luck under Hoke, and yet the program has still failed to improve. That tells you quite a lot.

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OHIO STATE FUMBLE LUCK SINCE 2005

If you rely on defense, field position, and being fundamentally sound in the kicking game -- all those Woody Hayes principles -- you better take care of the ball. Ohio State most certainly did so in its run of six straight BCS bowls from 2005 through 2010, especially in the four- year window from 2007 through 2010.

If you rely on defense, field position, and being fundamentally sound in the kicking game — all those Woody Hayes principles — you better take care of the ball. Ohio State most certainly did so in its run of six straight BCS bowls from 2005 through 2010, especially in the four- year window from 2007 through 2010.

2005: 30 fumbles, 16 lost — Yet, the Buckeyes still made and won a BCS bowl, the Fiesta (Notre Dame).

2006: 18 fumbles, 12 lost — Yet, the Buckeyes, with eight more lost fumbles than Michigan, marched past the Wolverines and into the national title game.

2007: 20 fumbles, 8 lost — This is more along the lines of what you’d expect in a season with a BCS title game appearance: OSU recovered 60 percent of its fumbles and kept its lost-fumble number under 10.

2008: 15 fumbles, 7 lost — BCS bowl.

2009: 18 fumbles, 7 lost — BCS bowl.

2010: 9 fumbles, 2 lost — BCS bowl. See a trend here?

2011: 21 fumbles, 10 lost

2012: 19 fumbles, 11 lost

2013: 18 fumbles, 10 lost — In 2012 and 2013, Ohio State could score. It didn’t need to be quite as airtight with the ball as it was from 2007 through 2010.

OREGON FUMBLE LUCK SINCE 2005

2005: 19 fumbles, 9 lost

2006: 27 fumbles, 14 lost

2007: 29 fumbles, 14 lost — Remember that Dennis Dixon’s midseason injury is what hijacked Oregon’s promising 2007 campaign.

2008: 26 fumbles, 14 lost

2009: 27 fumbles, 16 lost — Oregon still made the Rose Bowl this season, in spite of all the lost fumbles and not-that-great fumble luck.

2010: 26 fumbles, 15 lost — Again, Oregon’s offense didn’t care about sloppiness. It more than made up for so-so ballhandling with points and more points.

2011: 24 fumbles, 13 lost — This is a recording. This is a recording, recording, recording…

2012: 27 fumbles, 10 lost — Oregon still won a BCS bowl. Mariota and Kelly, man.

2013: 30 fumbles, 12 lost — Oregon absorbed fewer lost fumbles than in the 2010 BCS title game season. However, two of its lost fumbles came against Stanford, and those mistakes came back to haunt Oregon in a big way. Three turnovers doomed the Ducks in their implosion against Arizona as well.

STANFORD FUMBLE LUCK SINCE 2005

2005: 16 fumbles, 9 lost

2006: 20 fumbles, 15 lost

2007: 20 fumbles, 10 lost — This is the season when Jim Harbaugh began to get a handle on the situation in Palo Alto.

2008: 24 fumbles, 10 lost

2009: 25 fumbles, 11 lost

2010: 14 fumbles, 9 lost — The level of fumble luck was actually better in 2008, but the overall number of lost fumbles was relatively low, and the Cardinal began their BCS bowl parade with more low numbers of lost pigskins. Andrew Luck’s arrival enabled Stanford to win as long as it didn’t lose too many fumbles. This was something the Cardinal didn’t have in 2008.

2011: 13 fumbles, 7 lost

2012: 20 fumbles, 8 lost — A low turnover count aided by a pinch of fumble luck.

2013: 20 fumbles, 9 lost

 

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