Georgia wins back-and-forth affair with LSU

Below are some storylines from Week 5 of the college football season using ESPN’s new set of analytical storytelling metrics for college football. For more background on these metrics, read Dean Oliver’s primer on all of them and his explanation of college Total QBR. For complete college Total QBR information, go here.

Georgia outduels LSU in back-and-forth game

No. 9 Georgia’s three-point win over No. 6 LSU featured five ties and four lead changes, including three lead changes in the final 8:09 of the game.

There were plenty of plays that had a significant impact on either team’s probability of winning the game. In fact, there were 10 plays that changed each team’s chance of winning by at least 10 percentage points in either direction.

The biggest play of the game was Aaron Murray’s 25-yard pass to Justin Scott-Wesley in the fourth quarter to take the lead for good. That pass increased Georgia’s win probability from 48.8 percent to 75.3 percent, or by 26.5 percentage points.

Aaron Murray plays big against top opponent

Aaron Murray (82.6 Total QBR) threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns in Georgia’s win. This season, Murray and the Bulldogs have won two of three games against Top-15 opponents, and Murray has posted a 80.7 Total QBR in those games.

In his first three seasons at Georgia, Murray won one of eight games against Top-15 foes and posted a QBR below 20 in four of those games.

Aaron Murray vs Top-15 Opponents


The biggest differences have been turnovers and sacks. In those first eight games, Murray had 12 turnovers, including 10 interceptions, and took 26 sacks.

In the three games against Top-15 opponents in 2013, Murray has three turnovers and has taken three sacks, and he was not sacked on Saturday against LSU.

Welcome back Braxton Miller

Braxton Miller threw for 198 yards and matched a career-high with four passing touchdowns against Wisconsin.

After posting a 68.9 Total QBR against the Badgers, Miller has raised his Total QBR from 67.7 in 2012 to 73.2 in 2013.

The biggest difference has been his accuracy. This season, Miller has completed 64.9 percent of his passes and has been off target (overthrown, underthrow or wide) on just seven pass attempts. Last season, Miller completed 58.3 percent of his passes and was off target on 17 percent of his throws.

Alabama defense back on track

It appears that Texas A&M’s 628 yards and 42 points against Alabama was more of an aberration than a sign of what is to come for Alabama’s defense. Alabama’s other three opponents have combined for 696 yards and 16 points in three games, including 205 yards and zero points for Ole Miss on Saturday at Alabama.

Alabama Defense This Season

The Tide have a +20.9 defensive EPA against those three opponents, meaning its defense has contributed almost 21 points toward its margin of victory by controlling field position and forcing turnovers.

To put that into perspective, Alabama’s +20.9 defensive EPA in those three games would rank second in the FBS behind only Baylor (+29 def EPA) this season.