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Five Factors Statistical Review: Wake Forest 34-10 Victory over Boston College

An in-depth statistical look at why and how Wake Forest defeated Boston College last weekend

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Boston College Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: This will be a new weekly series that we write to take a look at the statistical side of each game, as well as how Wake stacks up in various advanced stats against national averages and other ACC opponents.

By defeating Boston College 34-10 on Saturday, Wake Forest managed to get its first 3 touchdown win on the road over an ACC opponent since 2013 (also a 34-10 win, but over former ACC opponent Maryland).

It is also the largest ACC road win since the 30-0 shutout of Florida State in Tallahassee in 2006.

Taking a look at Bill Connelly's Five Factors gives us a really good look at how and why Wake Forest was able to win by 24 points despite only outgaining the Eagles by four total yards (309 to 305).

Before we jump into the stats, it's rather simplistic why Wake won: the plus-four turnover margin (BC had 4 turnovers while Wake had no turnovers). In addition to that, Essang Bassey scored off of his interception, while Jessie Bates III took the ball down to the 2 yard line, where Cade Carney was able to finish it off.

The other turnovers were right around midfield for Cameron Glenn's pick, and at the 26 yard line after the fumble, which resulted in a beautiful touchdown throw from John Wolford to Greg Dortch.

Not only did the Deacs turn the Eagles over and protect the ball itself, but all the turnovers resulted in great field position, and 21 total points.

With the new statistical profiles up on Football Study Hall (I would highly recommend everybody bookmark this page), we can take a look at in-depth at what Wake did well this weekend.

Much like Ken Pomeroy does with basketball, Bill Connelly breaks down the game of football into statistical categories. There are five “factors” as opposed to the four factors in KP, and they are:

  1. Explosiveness (if you win this category then you win 86% of the time)
  2. Efficiency (83%)
  3. Drive-Finishing (75%)
  4. Field Position (72%)
  5. Turnover Margin (73%)

These categories essentially measure what we already know about football, from Connelly himself:

These are good odds. And they speak to the fundamentals of football itself. You want to be efficient when you've got the ball, because if you fall behind schedule and into passing downs, you're far less likely to make a good play. You want to eat up chunks of yardage with big plays, because big plays mean both points and fewer opportunities to make mistakes. When you get the opportunity to score, you want to score. And when you give the ball back to your opponent, you want to give them to have to go as far as possible.

The Wake-BC breakdown can be found here, and you will notice that Wake won the drive-finishing, field position, and turnover margin, and were roughly equivalent in success rate and explosiveness.

While both teams stayed on schedule at around 33% of the time, and produced approximately the same amount of big plays, the point differential in the game was due to the +4 turnover margin and Wake’s ability to score points when they got the ball inside the Boston College 40 yard-line.

The Deacs managed 5.4 points on trips inside Boston College’s 40 yard line, while Boston managed a meager 2.00 per opportunity.

Some other tidbits looking at the game:

  • Cameron Glenn had a heck of a game with 4 “havoc” plays (3 pass deflections, forced fumble, and an INT as well). It’s no surprise that he was named to the Pro Football Focus Week 2 First Team this week, grading out very well.
  • The offensive line didn’t provide many chances for the running game to get going (24% opportunity rate vs. the national average of 38%), but Cade Carney took good advantage of them when he did, averaging 9.7 yards per opportunity. John Wolford had a 50% opportunity rate, which is not overly rare for a QB, but also shows that he did well with his chances too.
  • Greg Dortch had a whopping 11 targets and caught 9 of them for an 82% catch rate. Through two weeks Dortch has a target rate of 30% and he has caught 79% of them (11/14).
  • Through two weeks Wake Forest ranks 9th nationally in starting field position (37.2 yard line). This is part special teams with Dortch, but also the defense putting the offense in great starting places. The Deacs also rank 11th in finishing drives (points per trip inside the 40) at 6.08. This is likely very unsustainable, as the national average is 4.30, but at 9/9 this year on scoring inside the redzone, the offense has converted on everything the defense has given them.
  • Explosiveness/the ability for Wake to hit the big play is still a huge question mark, as the Deacs rank 120th nationally through two weeks. Time will tell whether this is by design (Coach Clawson said yesterday that there was no need to be anything other than very conservative against BC in the second half) and opponent, or whether or not it’s still a problem.
  • With the win, Wake Forest is now more likely to go bowling (57.7%) than not go bowling (42.3%). The most common projected record is 6-6 (27%), while the second most popular record is 5-7 (24%). This highlights how important this game was, but also demonstrates that Wake must take care of business at home this weekend against Utah State to stay above the projected 5.5 wins for this season.