Daily Blog • June 14, 2010

Turnovers can have a huge impact on games and on a team's season. They can also lead to many misleading final scores. During the season I list all of the previous week's misleading final scores on PhilSteele.com in my Monday Daily Blog. By reading about them each week you can uncover some underrated and overrated teams throughout the season.

Here are a couple of examples from last year. Iowa St benefitted from +8 in TO's vs Nebraska and pulled out a 9-7 win. Nebraska turned it over 4 times inside the 5 yard line and lost despite a 362-239 yard edge. The next 2 weeks Iowa St was overrated and they lost by a combined 69-18 vs Texas A&M and Oklahoma St despite only being slight underdogs in each.

Florida St appeared to pummel BYU 54-28 on the road but they only had a 512-475 yard edge as they benefitted from +5 in TO's. The next week FSU entered the Top 25 but lost to USF at home as a 2 TD favorite 17-7 and BYU bounced back with a 42-23 whipping of Colorado St.

Turnovers can not only make a difference in a game but can make the difference between a winning and losing season.

Last year there was another GREAT example. In 2008, Buffalo won the MAC Title thanks mostly to being +19 in turnovers. They were actually outgained by an avg of 408-370 during the season! Last year they had 13 returning starters and this time outgained foes 405-343. That means they went from -38 ypg to +62 ypg (100 ypg better) but their record dropped to 5-7 as the TO's were -7.

Teams that benefitted from double-digit turnovers the previous year rarely get a repeat of that good fortune. In the last 17 years, 252 teams have had double-digit plus turnovers. Of those 252, 162 have had weaker records the following year (64.3%). Only 58 teams (23.0%) have improved their record and the other 32 had the same record. Teams with a positive double-digit TO ratio had the same or weaker record 77.0% of the time since 1996. Listed below are last year's most fortunate teams:

Going Down TO

Last year 17 teams were in the "Going Down" box and only 4 managed to improve their record slightly including VTech which went from 10-4 to 10-3. The teams with the biggest dropoffs were Rice which went from 10-3 to 2-10 and Oklahoma (12-2 to 8-5).

As I previously stated, if a team received bad breaks the year before, they will usually be headed for better fortune the following year. In the past 17 years, there have been 208 teams that have finished the season minus double-digits in turnovers. Of those 208 teams, 143 (69%) have had better records the next year! Teams with a negative double-digit TO ratio had the same or stronger records 80% of the time since 1996. Which teams are headed for better fortunes and better seasons?

Going Up TO

Last year a record high 17 teams made the "Going Up" box which meant they had suffered negative double digit turnovers in 2008 and were poised to receive better fortune. Of the 17 teams, 13 (or 76.5%!) had a better record than 2008, 1 had the same record and only 3 of the 17 (17.6%) had a weaker record. There were SIX teams on that list that went from a losing season to a bowl game! Those 6 teams were SMU, Idaho, Ohio U, Wyoming, Texas A&M and UCLA!!

Turnovers also have the same impact on the pro game. At first I figured that the NFL game would not show as much of a turnaround, but was actually surprised to see that the NFL game has had more turnarounds. First of all, the NFL season is 16 games long as opposed to 12 or 13 in college. With the extra NFL games, I upped the criteria from double-digit TO’s to plus or minus 12 turnovers or .75 per game. I then analyzed all the NFL teams since 1991 that have benefited from +12 turnovers or more. In that span of 19 years there have been a total of 65 teams that benefited from +12 turnovers or more. Of those 65, 47 or 72% had weaker records the next season including 13 of 14 (93%) over the last four seasons!! There were seven teams that had the same record. Only 11 of the 65 teams (17%) were able to improve their record the next season after benefiting from +12 turnovers or more.

Last year Miami (+17) made my “Going Down Box” and the Dolphins went from 11-5 in ’08 to just 7-9 last year. Tennessee was +14 in 2008 and finished the season 13-3. Last year the Titans did not catch the same breaks and they dropped to 8-8. Baltimore went 11-5 in ’08 and made an appearance in the AFC Champ game thanks in large part to being +13 in TO’s. Last year the Ravens did not have the same fortune and fell to 9-7.

Here are the teams that were +12 or more last year and could be heading to a disappointing season….Green Bay +23, New Orleans +18 and Philadelphia +12

As I previously stated, if a teams received bad breaks the year before, they will usually be headed for better fortune the following year. Once again I was very surprised the NFL game yielded even higher percentages. Since 1991, 63 NFL teams suffered from -12 turnovers or more. Of those 63 teams, an amazing 44 or 70% had a stonger record the next season and 7 had the same record the next year. Of the 63 teams with -12 turnovers or more, only 12 or 19% did not improve their record the next season!!

Here are some teams that could be heading to better finishes this year. Detroit (-18), St Louis (-13), Oakland (-13) and Cleveland (-12).

If you like this type of information, you will love the News and Notes section which is updated weekly at PhilSteele.com. I review such information as "Misleading Final Scores" and much, much more. Keep tabs on all of these teams this year and watch how turnovers WILL EQUAL turnaround in 2010!

The magazine is out everywhere right now so make sure you pick up your copy this week. My magazine is unlike other preseason magazines….which you buy, do a quick read thru and they sit on a shelf the rest of the year. If you buy Phil Steele’s College Football Preview it will be on your coffee table or desk ALL year because much of the statistics and analysis  are useful all the way into December.

Also please check PhilSteele.com everyday to get my Top 30 Countdown, which posted #4 TCU yesterday. Through June 16th, I will post both magazine pages on a new team ranked in the Top 30 and you can get an early look at my breakdown of your favorite team. Remember those magazine pages are available for only 24 hours for you to download. Today, defending national champ Alabama comes in at #3.