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Fumbles, Interceptions and How College Football Teams Respond to Variance

The most successful sports bettors understand that variance is an inherent part of sports investing. Fumbles, for example, are 90% random in college football, which means that good (or bad) fortune is rarely going to sustain itself from year to year. Indeed, sports handicapper Phil Steele has determined that college football teams with a positive double-digit turnover ratio had the same or weaker records 76.2% of the time since 1996. Similarly, college football teams with a negative double-digit turnover ratio had the same or stronger record 81.3% of the time since 1996. These statistics confirm the fact that teams who catch all of the breaks one year rarely get the same breaks the following year. The same holds true for college football teams who seem to lose an inordinate number of fumbles one year – they frequently enjoy greater luck (i.e. positive variance) in the years to come.

NCAA Football Teams Who Were Extraordinarily Lucky in 2012:

Team Turnover Margin

  • Oregon +21
  • Boise State +20
  • Kent State +20
  • Kansas State +19
  • LSU +16
  • Mississippi State +16
  • Florida +15
  • Fresno State +15
  • Ohio +15
  • Alabama +14
  • Northwestern +14
  • SMU +14
  • UTSA +14
  • Louisiana Tech +13

NCAA Football Teams Who Were Extraordinarily Unlucky in 2012:

Team Turnover Margin

  • Georgia State -20
  • Arkansas -19
  • Colorado -19
  • South Florida -19
  • New Mexico State -18
  • Idaho -17
  • Southern Mississippi -16
  • Akron -14
  • Connecticut -14
  • Hawaii -14
  • Virginia -14
  • Western Michigan -14
  • Air Force -13
  • Texas Tech -13

Based on the historical data, Oregon, Boise State, Kent State, etc. could be in for some negative variance this season, whereas Georgia State, Arkansas, Colorado, etc. should enjoy some much-needed positive variance in 2013.