Where does the 2013 New Mexico Bowl rank in watch-ability?

Duane Burleson

How much fun will it be to watch Washington State vs. Colorado State? We let advanced stats decide.

Some cool data was put together over at Football Study Hall, comparing the F/+ ratings of participants in each bowl game. What is F/+? Well it's the official rankings for college teams at Football Outsiders, and combines Bill Connelly's S&P+ data - based on plays - with Brian Fremeau's FEI data - based on drives - (from Bill's post on four-year F/+ averages).

There isn't a perfect way to evaluate and rank football teams, but this is as close as advanced metrics can currently get.

The Study Hall post (here) ranks the bowl match-ups in order of the best average F/+ ranking between the two teams, with the intent to tell you which games aren't worth watching. The New Mexico Bowl, which WSU is in, is described as one of three "horrific games played on December 21st". The average F/+ of WSU and CSU is 63, good enough for 29th out of the 35 bowls.

But are the only watch-able games played between good teams? That notion is pretty contrary to the Wednesday Night Appointment Viewing that MACtion has become for college football fans. When I think watch-ability, two things come to mind; close, competitive games, and good offenses. Those things make teams entertaining, and you don't necessarily need to have both, just one or the other.  "Good offense" could even be substituted for "good offensive player" and a game could still get away with being entertaining, as we might see with Ka'Deem Carey (Arizona) and Andre Williams (Boston College).

Let's re-order that table based on the difference in F/+ between the two opponents:

Rank (Diff) Rank (AVG) Date Bowl F/+ Favorite Rk F/+ Underdog Rk AVG Diff
1 1 6-Jan BCS Title Game Florida State 1 Auburn 4 2.5 3
2 4 1-Jan Capital One Wisconsin 10 South Carolina 14 12 4
3 17 30-Dec Music City Georgia Tech 31 Ole Miss 35 33 4
4 15 28-Dec BWW Kansas State 27 Michigan 32 29.5 5
5 2 1-Jan Rose Stanford 3 Michigan State 9 6 6
6 6 3-Jan Cotton Oklahoma State 11 Missouri 17 14 6
7 9 27-Dec Fight Hunger Washington 19 BYU 26 22.5 7
8 8 31-Dec Sun UCLA 13 Virginia Tech 21 17 8
9 3 3-Jan Orange Ohio State 5 Clemson 15 10 10
10 11 1-Jan Outback LSU 18 Iowa 28 23 10
11 29 21-Dec New Mexico Washington State 58 Colorado State 68 63 10
12 22 4-Jan BBVA Compass Houston 42 Vanderbilt 53 47.5 11
13 23 31-Dec Liberty Mississippi State 43 Rice 55 49 12
14 31 30-Dec Armed Forces Navy 66 Middle Tennessee 78 72 12
15 9 28-Dec Russell Athletic Louisville 16 Miami 29 22.5 13
16 20 24-Dec Hawaii Boise State 37 Oregon State 50 43.5 13
17 14 31-Dec Chick-Fil-A Texas A&M 22 Duke 36 29 14
18 27 27-Dec Military Marshall 51 Maryland 65 58 14
19 34 21-Dec New Orleans Tulane 72 UL-Lafayette 88 80 16
20 7 1-Jan Fiesta Baylor 7 Central Florida 24 15.5 17
21 24 26-Dec Little Caesars Bowling Green 41 Pittsburgh 59 50 18
22 5 2-Jan Sugar Alabama 2 Oklahoma 23 12.5 21
23 19 31-Dec V100 Arizona 30 Boston College 54 42 24
24 25 28-Dec Belk North Carolina 40 Cincinnati 64 52 24
25 16 1-Jan Gator Georgia 20 Nebraska 45 32.5 25
26 35 21-Dec Idaho Potato Buffalo 69 San Diego State 94 81.5 25
27 21 26-Dec Poinsettia Utah State 33 Northern Illinois 61 47 28
28 28 27-Dec Texas Minnesota 48 Syracuse 76 62 28
29 12 30-Dec Alamo Oregon 8 Texas 39 23.5 31
30 13 21-Dec Las Vegas USC 12 Fresno State 44 28 32
31 33 5-Jan GoDaddy Ball State 52 Arkansas State 93 72.5 41
32 31 1-Jan Heart of Dallas North Texas 49 UNLV 95 72 46
33 17 30-Dec Holiday Arizona State 6 Texas Tech 60 33 54
34 26 28-Dec Pinstripe Notre Dame 25 Rutgers 90 57.5 65
35 30 23-Dec Beef 'O' Brady's East Carolina 38 Ohio 104 71 66

The "Rank (Diff)" is the order based on the difference, while "Rank AVG" is the order from Study Hall based on the F/+ average of the two teams.

I think the difference order gives us a more accurate look at which games have the chance to be the most entertaining, based on how competitive two similarly F/+ ranked teams should be. And they fall in line with some common sense reasoning a little more than an order based on average rank.

But there's that "good offense" that could factor in and make some of these seemingly less competitive games worth watching.

Most people project ASU - TT to be blowout, and while it might be placed a little low on the competitive order, points are fun. Same with Oregon - Texas, and the USC - Fresno game could be played a lot closer than F/+ might assume, depending on whether the Trojans decide to show up or not.

What do you guys think the best bowl games will be? See any worth avoiding completely?

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