Week 2 Statshot: +4

The old football adage says the team that wins the turnover battle usually wins the game. In the case of Mississippi State, that has been true on the whole. I crunched the turnover numbers during Dan Mullen‘s tenure, and through 39 games, MSU’s turnover margin is plus-4.

It was actually plus-1 through the 2011 season, but MSU was plus-3 last week in a 56-9 season-opening win over Jackson State. Under Mullen, State is 16-1 when it has a plus turnover margin. When it loses that battle, it’s 4-8. And this is the stat that blew me away: When the turnover margin is even, MSU is 1-8.  The win came against UT Martin last year; the eight losses were all against SEC opponents (five on the road, three at home). I guess MSU is better off being in the negative than holding serve.

That doesn’t really compute, does it? The average margin of defeat in those eight losses is 12.6 points, with four of those decided by seven points or less. The others were decided by 14, 20, 21 and 27 points.

In its best season under Mullen (9-4 record in 2010), MSU was 0-3 in games when the turnover margin was even. It was 1-4 in such games last year, when it went 7-6. Each of the last two seasons have what I guess you’d call outliers – games in which the final result did not correspond with the turnover margin. For example, the Bulldogs beat Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl last season, 23-17, despite being minus-4. In fact, MSU was 2-1 last year when in the negative (it won at Kentucky despite being minus-3).

Looking at 2009, everything played out as expected. MSU, 5-7 that year, was 5-0 when plus, 0-6 when minus, and 0-1 when even.

The one loss MSU has had while in the positive also happened last year. It was plus-1 against Alabama in a game that was close heading into the fourth quarter; Bama won 24-7.

Interesting stuff, no? I’ve dropped some of the raw data below for your perusal and further extrapolation (and feel free to check my math). Enjoy.

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2012

• vs. JSU: +3, Win

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2011

• at Mem: +2, Win

• at Aub: 0, Loss

• vs. LSU: -1, Loss

• vs. La Tech: +2, Win (OT)

• at Georgia: 0, Loss

• at UAB: +2, Win

• vs. SC: 0, Loss

• at UK: -3, Win

• vs. UTM: 0, Win

• vs. Bama: +1, Loss

• at Ark: 0, Loss

• vs. Ole Miss: +1, Win

• vs. WF: -4, Win

Overall record: 7-6 (2-6 SEC)

Record when plus: 4-1 (1-1 SEC)

Record when minus: 2-1 (1-1 SEC)

Record when even: 1-4 (0-4)

Total turnover margin: Even

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2010

• vs. Mem: +1, Win

• vs. Aub: 0, Loss

• at LSU: -4, Loss

• vs. Georgia: +1, Win

• vs. Alcorn: -2, Win

• at Houston, +3, Win

• at Florida, +2, Win

• vs. UAB, +2, Win

• vs. UK: +3, Win

• at Bama: 0, Loss

• vs. Ark: 0, Loss (2OT)

• at Ole Miss: -1, Win

• vs. Mich: +1, Win

Overall record: 9-4 (4-4 SEC)

Record when plus: 7-0 (3-0 SEC)

Record when minus: 2-1 (1-1 SEC)

Record when even: 0-3 (0-3 SEC)

Total turnover margin: plus-6

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2009

• vs. JSU: +3, Win

• at Aub: -2, Loss

• at Vandy: +1, Win

• vs. LSU: -4, Loss

• vs. GT: -4, Loss

• vs. Houston: -2, Loss

• at MTSU: +4, Win

• vs. Florida: -1, Loss

• at UK: +1, Win

• vs. Bama: -3, Loss

• at Ark: 0, Loss

• vs. Ole Miss: +2, Win

Overall record: 5-7 (3-5 SEC)

Record when plus: 5-0 (3-0 SEC)

Record when minus: 0-6 (0-4 SEC)

Record when even: 0-1 (0-1 SEC)

Total turnover margin: minus-5

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Total record when plus: 16-1

Total record when minus: 4-8

Total record when even: 1-8

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Also:

• Record when minus-4: 1-3

• Record when minus-3: 1-1

• Record when minus-2: 1-2

• Record when minus-1: 1-2

• Record when plus-1: 6-1

• Record when plus-2: 6-0

• Record when plus-3: 4-0

• Record when plus-4: 1-0

I am the online content coordinator for DJournal.com. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04). I'm working on a recipe for bacon-flavored coffee, which would solve all the world's problems.

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