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Finding a champion – Part 3 (Turnovers and Penalties)

Posted by cuorange on July 2, 2009

The data shows that it’s not particularly important to avoid turnovers, but it is important to create more turnovers than you give up. Four of the last 9 champions have either been 1st or 2nd in turnover margin, the last two have been ranked 2nd.

Year Team Turnovers Lost Turnovers Gained Turnover Margin Fewest Penalties
2000 Oklahoma 88 5 30 75
2001 Miami 26 1 1 112
2002 Ohio St 7 33 18 20
2003 LSU 83 9 39 82
2004 USC 35 1 1 27
2005 Texas 36 21 27 88
2006 Florida 66 17 37 118
2007 LSU 10 3 2 117
2008 Florida 13 34 2 105

The number of penalties has no effect on winning the BCS. Four of the 9 BCS Champs have been ranked over 100th in fewest penalties, including 3 over 110. None of the champs has been ranked higher than 20th. Obviously, a crucial penalty could make the difference in a game (as it probably has for Clemson 3 years in a row), but at a high level, penalties have little effect on the national title.

For our purposes, contenders should be in the top 30 in turnover margin.

Up next – Part 4 (Putting it all together)

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