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Interactive Graphic: Fumble Luck

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When the ball hits the ground, each team has a 50/50 shot of recovering. Explore whether fumble luck has been a cruel or kind mistress to the Cougs - or whichever team you're curious about.

Ezra Shaw

With the Cougs having a bye week, I thought it’d be interesting to see how fumble luck has treated them through 7 games.

If you’re not familiar with the term, Football Outsiders has a great post looking at it.  They summarize it best by saying:

"We don’t claim that forcing fumbles is not a skill, nor do we claim that some running backs aren't very fumble-prone.  What we claim is that once the pointy ball hits the carpet, there is a lot of luck involved in which team claims the possession that comes with a recovery."

The reference lines for all FBS teams show that the idea of fumble luck is true; the national averages for both categories are right around a 50%, both teams have an equal shot of getting the ball once it hits the turf.

The Y axis shows the percent of fumbles your team recovers on defense; the X axis shows the percent of fumbles your team loses on offense.

If your team is in the upper left of the view, fumble luck has been a kind mistress, as they’re recovering most of the fumbles they force and not losing many fumbles.  If your team is in the lower right, fumble luck has been a cruel mistress as they’re not recovering many of the fumbles that they force and are losing most of their fumbles.

Certain teams like Kansas, Washington and Georgia are capitalizing on fumble opportunities on defense and rarely ever losing fumbles, while the opposite is true for teams like Iowa, Auburn or West Virginia.

You can use the filter in the upper left to drill down to your conference or choose multiple ones.