A new season means the return of one of my favorite pieces from last year. For the 2021 season, I called it the “By the numbers” series, where I looked at certain computer models and what they were saying about both Tennessee and their upcoming opponent. The rise of people like Bill Connelly and his SP+ ratings system has more fans than ever checking out the models and what they provide.
As you might be able to tell by the fact that I’m writing this article, I find a lot of use out of these models. I’ve typically found them to be very good at forecasting results for Tennessee. Even when the models miss on who wins the game, they tend to highlight where a team’s strengths and weaknesses lie.
For this season, we will once again be going with Brian Fremeau’s FEI ratings, ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), and Football Outsiders’ Line Stats. We will also include the predictions for the aforementioned SP+, but we will not include the rankings (ESPN has paywalled those).
Without further ado, here is your first look at the Pittsburgh Panthers. Last season, the models had this game as a virtual coin flip, although slightly leaning in Pittsburgh’s favor. That was pretty in line with what actually transpired!
DISCLAIMER: Since it is only Week 2, many of these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Some use data from the previous season until weeks 4-5. Please do not take these as gospel—this is simply to let us track some of the changes as we go throughout the season. The analysis will be light this week, and probably the next couple.
FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index)
Fairly similar numbers to how Tennessee finished 2021.
Pittsburgh did have a tougher first opponent in West Virginia. The offense sputtered, but their defense came up huge when it needed to.
FPI (Football Power Index)
Offensive Efficiency: 30th
Defensive Efficiency: 11th
Special Teams Efficiency: 58th
Offensive Efficiency: 53rd
Defensive Efficiency: 63rd
Special Teams Efficiency: 97th
Football Outsiders Line Stats
These numbers will start appearing after week 4.
SP+: Tennessee, 66% — Projected Score (37-30, Tennessee)
FEI: Tennessee, 64.6% — Projected (32.0-27.1, Tennessee)
FPI: Tennessee, 54.1%