What the SPM comps say about Tennessee-Chattanooga

The SPM finished Week 2 at a disappointing 21-24 (46.67%) on all games. Above what is usually a magic confidence level, it went 10-14 (41.67%) and within the usual magic confidence range, it still lost at 3-4 (42.86%). The tweak last week was pulling out all of the games involving FCS opponents. This week, we’ll be putting those back in but monitoring them separately. I still suspect they’re mostly junk or luck.

For the season so far, the SPM is 49-51 (49%) overall, 30-27 (52.63%) over the confidence threshold, and 16-8 (66.67%) within the confidence range.

Although it wasn’t at all confident about the game, the SPM did (barely) win the Tennessee-BYU game, saying the Vols wouldn’t cover the three-point spread. With the Big Orange hosting FCS Chattanooga this week, I’m pressing the button with the full intent of disregarding everything it spits out, but let’s take a look to see what it says.

Tennessee vs. Chattanooga

Yep. The Mocs haven’t played a game against an FBS opponent yet this year, and the only one they played last year was against South Carolina. That means that there’s only one good comp and that it’s a bit stale to boot. With the SPM pitching a fit about insufficient information, I’m going to look both at its results and my own analysis of that game in more detail manually.

In the Chattanooga-South Carolina game last year, the Mocs ran for 78 yards, threw for 256 yards, and scored 9 points. They gave up 238 yards rushing, 364 yards passing, and 49 points to the Gamecocks.

South Carolina’s run, pass, and scoring offense last year were 152.8, 272.8, and 30.1, so against the FCS Mocs they basically got 90 yards more than their average both on the ground and through the air, plus an additional 19 points.

The Gamecocks’ run, pass, and scoring defense last year were 195.3, 229, and 27.2, which means they held the FCS Mocs to less than half of what they usually give up on the ground but actually gave up more passing yardage than they did on average against their entire season-slate. They did hold Chattanooga to one-third of the points they usually gave up last season.

How does 2018 Tennessee compare to 2018 South Carolina? The Vols’ run, pass, and scoring offense last year were 129.1, 196.4, and 22.8. So, not nearly as good on the ground, a little less potent through the air, and about 5 points behind on the scoreboard, compared to the Gamecocks.

On the defensive side, the Vols’ run, pass, and scoring defense last year were 154.5, 222.9, and 27.9. That’s basically the same as the 2018 Gamecocks, but better stopping the run.

SPM Final Estimates

SPM Final estimated score: Tennessee 59.8, Chattanooga 9

SPM Final estimated spread: Tennessee -50.8

SPM Confidence level: 22.8

Eyeball adjustments

As I said before, much of the actual SPM output for this week is suspect because there’s only one stale comp. It also still includes an assumed improvement for Tennessee in 2019 over 2018, an assumption that at present appears to be incorrect.

Accounting for all of that, here are my best eyeball-adjusted estimates for Tennessee-Chattanooga:

  • Rushing Yards: Mocs 70, Vols 200
  • Passing Yards: Mocs 250, Vols 320
  • Points: Mocs 9, Vols 45

Other predictions from other systems

The Vegas line is between Tennessee -24 and Tennessee -28 with an over/under of 51.5. That basically translates to something like Tennessee 40, Chattanooga 12.

Bill Connelly’s SP+ likes Tennessee 40-11 and gives the Vols a 95% chance of winning. Connelly was 59% overall in Week 1 and 54% in Week 2. I’m not sure how this adds up (must be missing something), but a recent tweet says that for the season he’s 50% overall and 63% in his confidence zone.

As I said above, the season results for our SPM are 49% overall, 52.63% over our confidence threshold, and 66.67% within our confidence range.

ESPN’s FPI gives the Vols a 97.7% chance of winning.

Bottom line

Will the Vols cover -28 this weekend? I think the SPM is too high, but I still say yes.

What are y’all thinking?

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