Alabama versus the SEC – A Statistical Comparison

The Notorious PAB is back this week with a historical look at Alabama versus the SEC in the Nick Saban era.  With all the talk of “the Alabama Dynasty is over”, we thought it would be great to take a look at how Saban’s teams have fared versus his common opponents in the SEC.  As a comparison, Shula’s 2006 team averaged a -5.6 differential in scores against the SEC, meaning Alabama usually lost to an SEC opponent by an average of 5.6 points per game. In 2007, Saban shaved this number by more than half at -2.6.  2007 was the only season in which Saban’s Alabama club posted a negative number in point differential and in 2012, that number grew to a positive 25.2 average point differential per game.

Please enjoy this statistical walk down memory lane with PAB as he breaks down the seasons, the West, the East with a look at the points scored and points against each opponent.  Enjoy!

                                  Alabama Scoring and Scoring Defense, 2007 – 2014:
                              Performance versus SEC West and SEC East Opponents

Introduction
This examination of Bama’s scoring and scoring defense during Nick Saban’s tenure as head coach focuses on games against SEC West and SEC East teams. (For background, see “Can Alabama Win Games Defensively, a la 2009?” from 9/19, and “Alabama Scoring Defense, 2007 – 2015: Trends and Variations” posted 9/29). It’s time to look at the big-boy, high-level, super-competitive games that comprise the majority of the Tide’s schedule – season in, season out.
In this period, the SEC produced 24 BCS bowl teams (five of them undefeated), six consecutive champions and two runners-up. In addition, Bama was a semifinalist in the first-ever College Football Playoff after the 2014 season. Not sure how Webster’s defines “dominance,” but this run must come awfully close.

We’ll be analyzing averages, variations, trends and outliers in both scoring and scoring defense. To restate our rationale: one, points scored is the most fundamental offensive metric; two, points allowed encapsulates the overall defensive effort. At the end of a game, it’s those big numbers on the Jumbotron, right next to the teams’ names, that signal a W or an L. We’ll dig a little deeper into Bama’s few losses more than its many wins; when pursuing a national championship, losses tend to hurt more than wins help.

In the future – provided we can find reliable information – we’ll evaluate the impact of positive (takeaway) and negative (giveaway) turnovers.

Prelude – The Crimson Tide’s 2006 Season
The 2006 season was Mike Shula’s fourth and last as the Crimson Tide’s head coach. The defensive coordinator was Joe Kines, also in his fourth season. SEC West and SEC East data for 2006 are combined here in one section.
SEC West: 1 – 4
Arkansas              23 – 24 L
Florida                  13 – 28 L
Ole Miss               26 – 23 W
Mississippi State 16 – 24 L
Auburn                 15 – 22 L
Total points scored: 93         Average points scored: 18.6 ppg
Total points allowed: 121     Average points allowed: 24.2 ppg
Total difference: -28             Average difference: -5.6 ppg

The 2006 SEC West campaign must have given Mike Shula ulcers. The four losses were by a total of 31 points, with the losing margin against Arkansas being the slimmest possible. The loss to Florida is the only outlier; the -15 margin that day was three times the average margin of other three losses (-16 total, -5.3 ppg average.)

SEC East: 1 – 2
Vanderbilt    13 – 10 W
Florida         13 – 28 L
Tennessee   13 – 16 L
Total points scored: 39         Average points scored: 13.0 ppg
Total points allowed: 54        Average points allowed: 18.0 ppg
Total difference: -15              Average difference: -5.0 ppg

Clearly, these SEC East contests were marked by completely consistent, albiet quite low, scoring. Bama was competitive against Tennessee, but the loss to Florida was decisive. Compared to the SEC West contests, the SEC East games were low-scoring affairs. But the average difference was quite close: West -5.3 and East -5.0
Points allowed per game – West 18.6 and East 18.0 – were respectable averages, and the Bama defense would improve significantly over the next few seasons.

Notes
1) Overall record: 6 – 7; all six wins were subsequently vacated.
= = = = = = = = = =

Bama vs. SEC West – By Season
Bama’s SEC West regular season record is shown.
2007 ( 2 – 3 )
Arkansas               41 – 38 W *
Ole Miss                27 – 24 W *
LSU                       34 – 41 L
Mississippi State  12 – 17 L
Auburn                  10 – 17 L
* Wins later vacated.
Total points scored: 124         Average points scored: 24.8 ppg
Total points allowed: 68         Average points allowed: 27.4 ppg
Total difference: -13               Average difference: -2.6 ppg

2008 ( 5 – 0 )
Arkansas               49 – 14 W
Ole Miss                24 – 20 W
LSU                       27 – 21 W
Mississippi State   22 – 7 W
Auburn                   36 – 0 W
Total points scored: 168            Average points scored: 33.6 ppg
Total points allowed: 62            Average points allowed: 12.4 ppg
Total difference: +106               Average difference: +21.2 ppg
It’s been noted in a previous entry, and bears repeating here: the overall improvement that Bama made from 2007 to 2008 is just flat-out impressive and a testament to the knowledge, ability and hard work of all involved in the program.

2009 ( 5 – 0 )
Arkansas              35 – 7 W
Ole Miss               22 – 3 W
LSU                      24 – 15 W
Mississippi State  31 – 3 W
Auburn                 26 – 21 W
Total points scored: 138              Average points scored: 27.6 ppg
Total points allowed: 49               Average points allowed: 9.8 ppg
Total difference: +89                    Average difference: +17.8 ppg
2009 was Bama’s second consecutive undefeated run through the SEC West. The strong improvement from 2007 to 2008 was not continued (probably no way it could have been). 2009, in fact, was a slight step backward on the offensive side of the ball. Average points scored decreased by 6 ppg and average difference was down by 3.4 ppg.

2010 ( 3 – 2 )
Arkansas               24 – 20 W
Ole Miss                23 – 10 W
LSU                       21 – 24 L
Mississippi State   30 – 10 W
Auburn                   27 – 28 L
Total points scored: 125               Average points scored: 25.0 ppg
Total points allowed: 92               Average points allowed: 18.4
Total difference: +33                    Average difference: +6.6 ppg
Total points scored was only down 13 points – essentially two touchdowns over 20 quarters – from 2009, but points allowed increased by 46.7%, from 49 points to 92 points.

2011 ( 4 – 1 )
Arkansas               38 – 14 W
Ole Miss                52 – 7 W
LSU                         6 – 9 L
Mississippi State   24 – 7 W
Auburn                   42 – 14 W
Total points scored: 162                Average points scored: 32.4 ppg
Total points allowed: 51                 Average points allowed: 10.2 ppg
Total difference: +111                    Average difference: +22.2
Whatever was impairing the Tide defense in 2010 was resolved before and during the 2011 SEC West season. Total points allowed improved by 41 and got close to the 2009 figure (52 vs. 49). Average point difference more than tripled (22.2 vs 6.6).

2012 ( 5 – 1 )
Arkansas                 52 – 0 W
Ole Miss                  33 – 14 W
Mississippi State     38 – 7 W
LSU                         21 – 17 W
Texas A&M              24 – 29 L
Auburn                     ]49 – 0 W
Total points scored: 217              Average points scored: 36.2 ppg
Total points allowed: 67              Average points allowed: 11.2 ppg
Total difference: +150                 Average difference: +25.0 ppg

2013 ( 5 – 1 )
Texas A&M             49 – 42 W
Ole Miss                 25 – 0 W
Arkansas                 52 – 0 W
LSU                         38 – 17 W
Mississippi State     20 – 7 W
Auburn                     28 – 34 L
Total points scored: 212               Average points scored: 35.3
Total points allowed: 100              Average points allowed: 16.7
Total difference: +112                   Average difference: +18.6 ppg
Average difference was 6.4 ppg less than 2012. That was on to the defense, which allowed a total of 33 points more than the previous season. Total points scored was essentiall unchanged: 212 vs. 217, less than 1 ppg on average.

2014 ( 5 – 1 )
Ole Miss               17 – 23 W
Arkansas              14 – 13 W
Texas A&M           59 – 0 W
LSU                      20 – 13 W
Mississippi State  25 – 20 W
Auburn                  55 – 44 W
Total points scored: 190             Average points scored: 31.7 ppg
Total points allowed: 113            Average points allowed: 18.8ppg
Total difference: +77                   Average difference: +12.8 ppg

Bama vs. SEC West – By Team
Bama’s record against each SEC West team is shown.
When outliers are identified, “positive” indicates a result significantly better than average, and “negative” indicates a result significantly worse than average.
Arkansas ( 8 – 0 )
2007 41 – 38 W              Outlier – points allowed (negative).
2008 49 – 14 W
2009 35 – 7 W
2010 24 – 20 W
2011 38 – 14 W             Close to average points scored and points allowed.
2012 52 – 0 W               Outlier – points scored (positive) and points allowed (positive).
2013 52 – 0 W               Outlier – points scored (positive) and points allowed (positive).
2014 14 – 13 W
Total points scored: 278           Average scored: 34.8 ppg
Total points allowed: 106         Average allowed: 13.3 ppg
Total difference: +172              Average difference: +21.5 ppg

Auburn ( 5 – 3 )
2007 10 – 17 L                        Outlier – points scored (negative).
2008 36 – 0 W
2009 26 – 21 W
2010 27 – 28 L
2011 42 – 14 W
2012 49 – 0 W                        Outlier – points scored (positive) and points allowed (positive).
2013 28 – 34 L
2014 55 – 44 W                 => Outlier – points scored (positive) and points allowed (negative). <=
Total points scored: 273         Average scored: 34.1 ppg
Total points allowed: 158        Average allowed: 19.7 ppg
Total difference: +115             Average difference: +14.4

LSU ( 5 – 3 )
2007 34 – 41 L                       Outlier – points allowed (negative).
2008 27 – 21 W
2009 24 – 15 W                      Representative score.
2010 21 – 24 L
2011 6 – 9 L                           One of great defensive contests in college football history.
2012 21 – 17 W                      Close to average points scored and points allowed.
2013 38 – 17 W
2014 20 – 13 W
Total points scored: 191        Average scored: 23.9 ppg
Total points allowed: 157       Average allowed: 19.6
Total difference: +34              Average difference: +4.3 ppg

Mississippi State ( 7 – 1 )
2007 12 – 17 L
2008 32 – 7 W
2009 31 – 3 W                        Outlier – points allowed (positive).
2010 30 – 10 W
2011 24 – 7 W                         Representative score.
2012 38 – 7 W                         Outlier – points scored (positive).
2013 20 – 7 W
2014 25 – 20 W                       Outlier – points allowed (negative).
Total points scored: 212         Average scored: 26.5 ppg
Total points allowed: 78          Average allowed: 9.8
Total difference: +134             Average difference: +16.7 ppg

Ole Miss ( 7 – 1 )
2007 27 – 24 W                      Outlier – points allowed (negative).
2008 24 – 20 W
2009 22 – 3 W
2010 23 – 10 W
2011 52 – 7 W                        Outlier – points scored (positive).
2012 33 – 14 W
2013 25 – 0 W                        Outlier – points allowed (positive).
2014 17 – 23 L                       Outlier – points allowed (negative)
Total points scored: 223        Average scored: 27.9 ppg
Total points allowed: 101       Average allowed: 12.6 ppg
Total difference: +122            Average difference: +15.3 ppg

Texas A&M ( 2 – 1 )
2012 24 – 29 L
2013 49 – 42 W
2014 59 – 0 W                        Outlier – points scored (positive) and points allowed (positive).
Total points scored: 132        Average scored: 44.0 ppg
Total points allowed: 71         Average allowed: 23.7 ppg
Total difference: +61              Average difference: +20.3 ppg
2012 was Texas A&M’s first season in the SEC West.

How SEC West Teams Stack Up
Bama’s Regular-Season Record Against
1) Arkansas 8 – 0             100%
2) Mississippi State 7 – 1  87.5%
2) Ole Miss 7 – 1               87.5%
4) Auburn 5 – 3                 62.5%
4) LSU 5 – 3                      62.5%
5) Texas A & M 2 – 1         66.7%
Total games played: 43    Wins: 34    Losses: 9       Winning percentage: 79.1%
Texas A&M is ranked last, despite Bama’s 66.7 winning percentage, because of only three games played.

Total Points Scored by Bama
Total points scored against all SEC West opponents: 1309
1) Arkansas                278        21.2%
2) Auburn                   273        20.1%
3) Ole Miss                 223        17.0%
4) Mississippi State    212        16.2%
5) LSU                        191        14.6%
6) Texas A&M             132        10.0% ( three games )
Arkansas sure seems to bear the brunt of Bama’s offensive aspirations.
A mere 191 points against LSU is testimony to the stout defense that the Tigers are consistently able to muster.
132 points in only three games versus Texas A&M reflect two recent offensive outbursts. Shootout: Bama won by only seven in 2013, 49 – 42; shutout: Bama ran up 59 in 2014, while allowing the Aggies a big ol goose egg.

Total Points Allowed by Bama
Total points allowed to all SEC West opponents: 671
1) Auburn                   158         23.5%
2) LSU                        157         23.4%
3) Arkansas                106         15.8%
4) Ole Miss                 101         15.0%
5) Mississippi State      78         11.6%
6) Texas A&M                71        10.6% ( three games )

Total Point Difference
Total point difference versus all SEC West opponents: 638
1) Arkansas                 +172
2) Mississippi State     +134
3) Ole Miss                  +122
4) Auburn                    +115
5) Texas A&M              + 61
6) LSU                         + 34
= = = = = = = = = =

Bama vs. SEC East – By Season
Bama’s SEC East reguular season record is shown.
2007
Vanderbilt     24 – 10 W
Georgia        23 – 26 L
Tennessee    41 – 17 W
Total points scored: 88              Average points scored: 29.3 ppg
Total points allowed: 53            Average points allowed: 17.7 ppg
Total difference: +35                 Average difference: +11.6 ppg

2008
Georgia        41 – 30 W
Kentucky     17 – 14 W
Tennessee   29 – 9 W
Total points scored: 87            Average points scored: 29.0 ppg
Total points allowed: 53          Average points scored: 17.7 ppg
Total difference: +34               Average difference: +11.3 ppg

2009
Kentucky             38 – 20 W
South Carolina     20 – 6 W
Tennessee            12 – 10 W
Total points scored: 70           Average points scored: 23.3 ppg
Total points allowed: 36         Average points allowed: 12.0 ppg
Total difference: +34              Average difference: +11.3 ppg

2010
Florida                 31 – 6 W
South Carolina    21 – 35 L
Tennessee           41 – 10 W
Total points scored: 93           Average points scored: 31.0 ppg
Total points allowed: 51          Average points allowed: 17.0 ppg
Total difference: +42               Average difference: +14.0 ppg

2011
Florida                38 – 10 W
Vanderbilt           34 – 0 W
Tennessee          37 – 6 W
Total points scored: 109          Average points scored: 36.3 ppg
Total points allowed: 16           Average points allowed: 5.3 ppg
Total difference: +93                 Average difference: +31.0

2012
Mizzou               42 – 10 W
Tennessee         44 – 13 W
Total points scored: 86             Average points scored: 43.0
Total points allowed: 23            Average points allowed: 11.5
Total difference: +63                 Average difference: +31.5

2013
Kentucky            48 – 7 W
Tennessee          45 – 10 W
Total points scored: 93              Average points scored: 46.5 ppg
Total points allowed: 17             Average points allowed: 8.5 ppg
Total difference: +76                  Average difference: +38.0

2014
Florida               42 – 21 W
Tennessee         34 – 20 W
Total points scored: 76              Average points scored: 38.0 ppg
Total points alowed: 41             Average points allowed: 20.5 ppg
Total difference: +35                  Average difference: +17.5 ppg

Bama vs. SEC East – By Team
Bama’s record against each SEC East team is shown.
Florida ( 3 – 0 )
2010 31 – 6 W
2011 38 – 10 W
2014 42 – 21 W
Total points scored: 111            Average: 37.0 ppg
Total points allowed: 37             Average: 12.3 ppg
Total difference: +74                  Average: +24.7 ppg

Georgia ( 1 – 1 )
2007 23 – 26 L
2008 41 – 30 W
Total points scored: 64              Average: 32.0 ppg
Total points allowed: 56            Average: 28.0 ppg
Total difference: +8                   Average: +4.0 ppg

Kentucky ( 3 – 0 )
2008 17 – 14 W
2009 38 – 20 W
2013 48 – 7 W
Total points scored: 103            Average: 34.3 ppg
Total points allowed: 42             Average: 13.7 ppg
Total difference: +62                  Average: +20.7 ppg

Mizzou ( 1 – 0 )
2012 42 – 10 W
Total points scored: 42              Average: 42.0 ppg
Total points allowed: 10            Average: 10.0 ppg
Total difference: +32                 Average: +32.0 ppg
2012 was Mizzou’s first season in the SEC West. We’ll consider Bama vs. Mizzou in the 2014 SEC Championship game below.

Tennessee ( 8 – 0 )
2007 41 – 17 W
2008 29 – 9 W
2009 12 – 10 W
2010 41 – 10 W
2011 37 – 6 W
2012 44 – 13 W
2013 45 – 10 W
2014 34 – 20 W
Total points scored: 283            Average: 35.2 ppg
Total points allowed: 95             Average: 11.9 ppg
Total difference: 188                  Average: 23.5 ppg
Thanks to the revered “Third Saturday in October” game, the Tide took on the Volunteers every season, just as they did with SEC West rivals. The above figures suggest that Bama / UT is not the rivalry it once was. An 8 – 0 record, almost three times more points scored than allowed, and an average winning margin just over 24 ppg clearly indicates superiority. When it comes to playing Saban’s Tide squads, “Rocky Top” is more like “It’s Rocky Down Here Close to the Bottom.”

South Carolina ( 1 – 1 )
2009 20 – 6 W
2010 21 – 35 L
Total points scored: 41              Average: 20.5 ppg
Total points allowed: 41             Average: 20.5 ppg
Total difference: 0                      Average: 0.0 ppg
Look at those numbers. Sure, the sample size (that’s jargon for “number of games”) is very small. but this is about as even-steven as it gets. The Old Ball Coach and his guys staged a nice comeback in 2010, responding to a two-TD loss with a win by precisely the same margin. Each team won on its home field.

Vanderbilt ( 2 – 0 )
2007 24 – 10 W
2011 34 – 0 W
Total points scored: 58              Average: 29.0 ppg
Total points allowed: 10             Average: 5.0 ppg
Total difference: 48                    Average: 24.0 ppg
= = = = = = = = = =
How SEC East Teams Stack Up
Bama’s Regular-Season Record Against
1) Tennessee 8 – 0      100%
2) Florida 3 – 0            100%
2) Kentucky 3 – 0        100%
4) Vanderbilt 2 – 0       100%
5) Missouri 1 – 0          100%
6) Georgia 1 – 1            50%
6) South Carolina 1 – 1 50%
Total games played: 21      Wins: 19       Losses: 2        Winning percentage: 90.5%

Total Points Scored by Bama
Total points scored against all SEC East opponents: 702
1) Tennessee 283       40.3% ( 8 games )
2) Florida 111             15.8%
3) Kentucky 103         14.7%
4) Georgia 64               9.1%
5) Vanderbilt 58            8.3%
6) Missouri 42              6.0%
7) South Carolina 41     5.8%
Obvious big dropoff between Tennessee and all the rest. Vanderbilt has been hanging in there: Bama in the Saban years has averaged 29.0 ppg scored against the Commodores.

Total Points Allowed by Bama
Total points allowed against all SEC opponents: 290
1) Tennessee        95
2) Georgia            56
3) Kentucky          41
3) South Carolina 41
5) Florida              37
6) Missouri           10
6) Vanderbilt         10
More than any other SEC East team, the Georgia Bulldogs has been able to score on Tide defenses, averaging 28.p ppg scored in two games (one win and one loss).

Total Point Difference
Total point difference versus all SEC East opponents: 412
1) Tennessee    +188
2) Florida           +74
3) Kentucky       +62
4) Vanderbilt      +48
5) Missouri        +32
6) Georgia           +8
7) South Carolina  0
Coach Saban’s and The Old Ball Coach’s teams just could not be any closer (given the stats we’re considering). Two games… total of zero/zip/nada points separating them.
= = = = = = = = = =

Bama in SEC Championship Games
Overall record in SEC Championship Games: 3 – 1
2008 Florida   20 – 31 L
2009 Florida   32 – 13 W
2012 Georgia  32 – 28 W
2014 Missouri 42 – 13 W
Total points scored: 126       Average points scored: 31.5 ppg
Total points allowed: 85        Average points allowed: 21.3 ppg
Total difference: +41             Average difference: +10.2 ppg
The 2012 SEC Championship Game was simply stellar. One of the more exciting games played anytime, anywhere that season. It was certainly more competitive than Bama vs. Notre Dame a few weeks later in the BCS Championship. That game ended Bama 42 – ND 14 and it wasn’t that close.

2008 Loss to Florida versus averages from three wins
Points scored:      20 vs. 35.3 ppg ( -15.3 )
Points allowed:    31 vs. 18.0 ppg ( -13.0 ppg )
Point difference: -11 vs. +17.3 ppg (-28.3 ppg)

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