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Breaking down Bill Connelly’s Ole Miss Day

We take a look at our stats godfather’s recap of the 2019 season and preview of 2020.

LSU v Mississippi Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

While we wait for the pullers of levers in college football to be put to a decision, our quest to find anything remotely interesting to talk about continues its relentless march. Today, that quest leads us to the fine work of ESPN’s Bill Connelly (previously of SB Nation), who continues his offseason tradition of breaking down EVERY DANG FBS TEAM’S statistical profile from the previous season and offering a preview what’s to come.

If you’re not familiar with Connelly, first, how dare you, and second, the best description I can give, without writing three fanboy paragraphs, is that he’s one of college football’s most well-known advanced stats gurus. To those already familiar, reflect upon the monies he has helped you win when his SP+ added evidence that there was an issue with a point spread.

On Monday, Connelly profiled Ole Miss, kicking the thread off with Breeland Speaks waving at Dan Mullen, prior to being ejected for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the 2017 Egg Bowl. Side note: Egg Bowls in Starkville REALLY like to explore the space.

We start the dive into statistics with a look at Ole Miss’ SP+ progression since 2005 and the week-to-week SP+ rankings since 2014.

If you’re scoring at home and who isn’t when reading a blog post in July of a hellscape year, that’s 5 of 15 seasons in which Ole Miss was an above average SEC team, according to SP+. Even if you yell STATS NERDS and count the 2012 and 2013 teams, who went to bowls and won, it’s 7 out of 15. The advanced stats term you’re looking for there is Not Great, Bob!

Note: Special shout-out to Houston Nutt for being so awful that his last team in 2011 finished below the daggum year in the chart.

As for the week-to-week SP+ rankings since 2014, a few things to note:

  • 27 years ago, way back in 2014 and 2015, we were really good!
  • The defensive collapse from the end of 2015 to the first game of the 2016 season is grizzly, Black Tuesday type stuff
  • We waited a whole three years for the offense to do something worse, so kind of like our very own pandemic economic collapse

Now let’s focus on the 2019 offensive radar, which features a passing display that is rated TV-MA and includes disturbing scenes of “not sure who that was intended for, Bob” and field goal attempts instead of going for it.

I’ve said it before, but between 2018 and 2019, we did one of those Fast & Furious emergency brake pulls to spin the car around in the opposite direction and then floor it. Efficiency was still an issue, but instead of having explosive passing plays as our oxygen, we relied on explosive running plays to breathe. One star out of five. Would not recommend.

As for the defensive radar, we saw significant strides in cutting down the number of explosive plays allowed (by my math, that number fell roughly 832 percent from the Wesley McGriff era), the run defense improved, but they still weren’t very efficient.

I want to point out one other thing that I found interesting, but to do this, we must activate the ENHANCE feature:

Show this image to five strangers while socially distanced and you’ll get 60 percent off your Red Cup Rebellion dot com subscription.

With 2019 in the books, we turn to Connelly’s numbers based on the schedule Ole Miss was going to play prior to the pandemic.

We were likely looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of five to seven wins, with a 74.7% chance of enjoying Birmingham’s December weather. The Auburn/LSU/Alabama stretch is laughably sadistic, though I’m sure in the seemingly inevitable scheduling reshuffle that the fine folks at the SEC home office will add Georgia to that stretch.

For me, the biggest potential loss is no game with Connecticut. Never in my life did I think I would be able to, IN PERSON, drink in the glory that is UConn football, and now that will likely not happen. We’ve been robbed of being able to tell our grandchildren that, yes, child, we were there when Randy Edsall’s team picked up six second-half first downs and earned him a $203.98 bonus.

Finally, we close with Ole Miss’ SP+ history, going back to 1945. At this point, I’d like you to brace for whiplash and show this to your personal physician when he or she asks why you have the internal organs of someone 25 years older than you.