There seemed to be a pretty good response to the last waste-of-time I posted, so I thought I would give it another go before the Apple Cup is official upon us. In the last post I made, I looked at the relationship between temperature at kickoff and the Apple Cup point differential. While there was no statistically significant trend, it did appear the Cougs fair better in colder temperatures. Statistical significance be damned, I am taking heart in snow now falling outside my office window at this moment. Nevertheless, the weakness of the relationship made me wonder if the temperature thing wasn't an artifact of something else going on. After all, as Coach Wulff did point out, most of the players are from warmer latitudes and don't necessarily have that much experience playing in the blowing snow.
The most obvious place to go looking for some deeper cause would be to investigate home field advantage, as I made a passing reference to in the last post. Pullman is just a colder place than Seattle, and it would seem to be common sense that the Cougs would do better in their own home stadium. Those two factors put together could make it seem as if the Wazzu performs better in the cold against UW. To investigate this possibility I grabbed points scored not just from the past 20 years, but from all 102 past Apple Cups (slightly easier to obtain than temperatures). I also decided to do away with the point differential all together. To really get a look at what is going on I decided to peer directly at points scored by each team in their own stadium and on the road (I did include all the Apple Cups in Joe Albi as "home" for the Cougs).
First off I figured the Huskies must score fewer points here on the East side than they do in the comforts of their own home. Not only do you have a team that hasn't been practicing in a refrigerator for the past several weeks, but add in crowd noise and the jet lag from traveling from the West Coast and the only logical conclusion is that their offensive production would suffer. (Away= Husky Stadium, confusing, I know...)
Well... I was sure wrong about that. If anything, they score a few more point over on our side of the state, averaging 20.1 points per game in Seattle, and 22.1 points over here. I performed a t-test on the data, which will tell you the probability that the difference between two groups of numbers is just due to random chance. The magic threshold percentage below which most statisticians will say there really is a difference between the two sets of numbers is 5%. In this case the result was 47.3%. Bottom line: The Huskies score the same number of points in their stadium or ours.
OK, then, what about the Cougars?
Well that looks a little bit more like it. The Cougars score an average of 16.6 points per game at home while only 11.6 points per game in the Huskie's domain. The t-test says there is a 2.9% probability this is due to random chance. This is a real difference. So we score more points at home, or alternatively just do really badly in Husky Stadium. So what do you think? Do the Cougs have some small measure of home field advantage, or is Husky Stadium really that much of a house of horrors for them? Personally, I am going to look at this through the rosiest glasses I can: Our offense is 4 points better in Martin Stadium during the Apple Cup than we would be over in the place that shall not be named! And the snow continues to fall! Bring on the cautious optimism.