Auburn Tigers vs. Missouri Tigers: Numbers Predict Close SEC Championship Game

By Scott Page
sec championship trophy
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3 Auburn and No. 5 Missouri are very, very similar teams. They’re both Tigers. They both have 11-1 records and are 4-1 against teams ranked at the time they played. Both teams’ coaches are up for coach of the year honors. They’re both looking to complete monumental turnaround seasons with an SEC title. And these East and West Tigers’ statistics could not be more similar.

Scoring offense: Missouri 38.8, Auburn 38.6. Scoring defense: Missouri 19.4, Auburn 22.5. Total offense: Auburn 491, Missouri 489. Total defense: Missouri 384, 414. Third down conversion percentage: Missouri 47 percent, Auburn 45.2 percent. Opponent third down percentage: Auburn 35.2 percent, Missouri 36.5 percent.

The two Tigers also went undefeated against five common opponents: Arkansas State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Georgia. The rounded average margin of victory in Mizzou wins was 17 points (33-16), for Auburn it was 15 (42-27). But we’re going to dig deeper into those games against common teams and use them to predict the final score of the SEC Championship Game.

First we calculate the mean offensive and defensive scoring averages of the Tigers’ common opponents. In other words, these teams score an average of 33.14 points against all competition and yield an average of 28.06 points per game.

We then compared those to Auburn and Missouri’s averages against those five teams and took the difference. Auburn scored an average of 42.2 points against those teams and gave up an average of 26.6 points. That means the Tigers (West) put up 14.14 points more than those teams’ mean defensive average and held them an average of 6.54 points below their mean offensive average.

Missouri, on the other hand, scored an average of 33 points against those five teams while yielding 15.8 points. So the Tigers (East) scored 4.94 points more than those teams’ mean defensive average and held them an average of 17.34 points below their mean offensive average.

The next step involves applying those scoring differences against the five common opponents to the Tigers’ overall offensive and defensive scoring averages. Auburn’s season scoring averages are 38.6 (offense) and 22.5 (defense). Missouri’s are 38.8 (offense) and 19.4 (defense).

So Auburn’s offensive average is adjusted by the -17.34 points Missouri held those five teams below their mean scoring average for a new offensive figure of 21.26. Auburn’s defensive average was adjusted by Missouri’s +4.94 offensive difference to 27.44. In the same manner, Missouri’s season averages were adjusted to 32.26 (offense) and 33.54 (defense).

For the final step, we simply took the average of each team’s adjusted offensive and defensive figures to predict the final score. Auburn’s offense (21.26) averaged with Missouri’s defense (33.54) predicts 27.4 points for the Tigers (West). Missouri’s offense (32.26) averaged with Auburn’s defense (27.44) predicts 29.85 points for the Tigers (East).

According to this mathematically irrefutable formula, Missouri will defeat Auburn by a score of 30-28.

Of course, the same formula predicted Alabama would win the Iron Bowl 34-19. As we all watched, the Tigers (West) won that one 34-28 in legendary fashion, proving that math doesn’t win football games.

Scott Page is a college football writer for Follow him on Twitter, Like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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