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Statistical Summer: Why Turnovers Still Matter

It’s not exactly a mind-blowing revelation that turnovers matter more than most other comparative statistics in college football. This is not news.

What might be newsworthy to you as a consumer of college football content is the ability to see the value of turnovers over the past 11 college football seasons.

With help from freelance researchers Ryan Orlinski and Aaron Calhoun, here are 11 seasons’ worth of data on turnovers… and six other basic statistics that are part of a conventional gameday box score. What emerges is not just an affirmation of the importance of ball security (or, from a defensive standpoint, the ability to take the ball away); what also shines through in these statistics is a magnification of the extent to which other categories serve as a much less likely indicator of victory or defeat.

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LESS, MORE AND EQUAL:

HOW TEAMS FARE ON DIFFERENT SIDES OF STATISTICAL DIVIDES

There are many different ways to peel the onion of statistical measurement. One basic approach is to tally the win-loss records of teams when they accumulate greater, smaller, or equal numbers in various statistical categories. Over the past 11 college football seasons, here are the records of teams as seen through the prism of statistical categories. The records apply to FBS-versus-FBS games only.

RECORDS OF TEAMS WITH MORE FIRST DOWNS, 2003-2013

2003: 397-177; in 29 games, a statistical tie existed

2004: 399-183 with 17 ties

2005: 413-188-23

2006: 458-192-26

2007: 465-179-35

2008: 452-189-42

2009: 440-203-37

2010: 459-186-38

2011: 452-197-31

2012: 449-210-38

2013: 500-165-37

RECORDS OF TEAMS WITH MORE TOTAL YARDS, 2003-2013

2003: 460-141-2

2004: 449-147-3

2005: 461-162-1

2006: 513-161-2

2007: 499-178-2

2008: 511-172

2009: 514-165-1

2010: 526-151-6

2011: 503-167-10

2012: 524-172-1

2013: 571-130-1

RECORDS OF TEAMS WITH MORE RUSHING YARDS, 2003-2013

2003: 484-118-1

2004: 458-134-7

2005: 464-156-4

2006: 526-147-3

2007: 515-161-3

2008: 504-176-3

2009: 508-170-2

2010: 538-143-2

2011: 492-179-9

2012: 529-165-3

2013: 539-160-3

RECORDS OF TEAMS WITH MORE PASSING YARDS, 2003-2013

2003: 328-275

2004: 315-280-4

2005: 336-287-1

2006: 386-290

2007: 369-310

2008: 386-296-1

2009: 372-305-3

2010: 392-288-3

2011: 375-294-11

2012: 396-299-2

2013: 413-284-5

RECORDS OF TEAMS WITH MORE PENALTIES, 2003-2013

2003: 292-242-69

2004: 263-278-58

2005: 275-269-80

2006: 288-306-82

2007: 347-329-3

2008: 347-334-2

2009: 356-323-1

2010: 375-300-8

2011: 309-352-19

2012: 332-284-81

2013: 298-312-92

RECORDS OF TEAMS WITH MORE TURNOVERS, 2003-2013

2003: 111-378-114

2004: 135-347-117

2005: 127-377-120

2006: 148-381-147

2007: 148-397-134

2008: 131-396-156

2009: 123-409-148

2010: 125-411-147

2011: 142-385-153

2012: 142-426-129

2013: 151-397-154

RECORDS OF TEAMS WITH MORE TIME OF POSSESSION, 2003-2013

2003: 381-219-3

2004: 357-237-1

2005: 404-220

2006: 397-271-8

2007: 423-254-2

2008: 442-241

2009: 430-250

2010: 431-248-4

2011: 413-265-2

2012: 424-272-1

2013: 414-287-1

Matt Zemek

About Matt Zemek

Matt Zemek is the managing editor of The Student Section, covering college football and basketball with associate editors Terry Johnson and Bart Doan. Mr. Zemek is also Bloguin's lead tennis writer, covering the major tournaments in 2014. He contributes to Crossover Chronicles and other Bloguin sites.

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