Football

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Charting the FSU-Florida Rivalry

As a kid growing up in Tallahassee, I both cherished and dreaded the Florida State vs. Florida rivalry. As a ‘Noles fan, the game too often ended in defeat, occasionally dashing my team’s national title hopes.

But I’ll always remember the best game of the rivalry — the 1994 “Choke at Doke” — in which the Gators gave up a 31-3 lead in the fourth quarter, settling for a 31-31 tie. (FSU won the “fifth quarter” rematch that season at the Sugar Bowl).

This chart shows the point differential between the two teams since 1958. You can see that FSU dominated the rivalry in the 1990s. Florida largely owned the 2000s.

We’ll see what happens today. Go ‘Noles!

Build your own rivalry table at Sports-Reference.com.

Which European Soccer Leagues Have The Most Per-Match Goals?

Has European football gotten increasingly boring over the years? If you like offense, perhaps.

Since the mid-1950s, fewer and fewer goals on average have been scored per match. The trend is evident among the major national leagues (Spain, Italy, England and Germany) and also the Champions League, in which the best teams from each country compete for a European title.

Goals per match in the latter championship, formerly known as the European Cup, are down the most (-39%) since 1955 — followed by Spain’s La Liga (-30%), England’s Premier League (-14%) and Italy’s Serie A (-9%). Per-match goals in Germany’s Bundesliga are down 21% since 1964, the earliest data available.

This chart, made in Adobe Illustrator, attempts to the visualize the trend: 

Data Source: worldfootball.net

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How Many Points Will Alabama And LSU Score Tonight?

In previewing tonight’s national championship game between LSU and Alabama, USA Today reports that a high-scoring contest isn’t expected: 

LSU and Alabama combined for just 15 points in their November matchup that saw neither team reach the end zone.

The anticipated defensive struggle Monday night will contrast with the Rose, Fiesta and Orange Bowl which totaled 83, 79 and 103 points, respectively. In fact, in those three games there were more points in eight of the 12 quarters than the previous November matchup between the Tigers and Crimson Tide.

But how have these teams scored in previous matchups? Since 1902, the Tigers and the Crimson Tide have faced off 74 times, with an average combined score of about 32 points — twice the total from this season’s earlier game.

This histogram shows the number of games in 10-point increments. Twenty games have resulted in 40 or more points (see larger version): 

There have been some low-scoring games over the years, but also some real shootouts. In 2007, for example, the matchup resulted in 75 points, with LSU winning 41-34. This line chart shows the trend over time (see larger version): 

We’ll see what happens tonight.

Data source: Sports-Reference.com

How Robert Griffin III’s Heisman Ballot Compares to Past Winners

Last night Robert Griffin III became the first Baylor football player to win the Heisman Trophy, the college game’s highest honor. Griiffin was the 76th player to receive the award — and the 28th quarterback — since the tradition began in 1936.

The winner is selected from ballots cast by hundreds of sports journalists, and past honorees. Each votes for three players, and ranks them on scale from first place (three points) to third place (one point). The higher the points received by a player, the more unanimous his selection as the winner. 

Griffin received 1,687 points, slightly above the average winner over the years. Here’s how players have compared since the start (colored in Baylor green): 

View the full list of past winners here.

LSU vs. Arkansas

Today’s big football game between top-ranked LSU and Arkansas marks the 57th meeting between the two rivals since 1906, in what’s become known as the “Battle for the Golden Boot.” LSU has won 60% percent of the games over the last century.

These games have been become increasingly high-scoring contests. In 2007, for example, the teams scored 98 points, with Arkansas winning by two. This chart shows the points scored in each game, with the teams’ totals stacked by color: 

Data source: sports-reference.com

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Spanish Soccer Discipline

Discipline varies widely in the Spanish first-division soccer league, or La Liga. These stats from last season group yellow cards violations by team and player. Real Zaragoza received 63 yellow cards. Sevilla FC, conversely, received just seven. The two marque teams in the league — Real Madrid and Barcelona — received 31 and 9, respectively. 

Click the image to explore the interactive treemap on Many Eyes: 

Data Source: ESPN 

UPDATE: These data only reflect the most penalized players, so the team totals aren’t accurate. This post visualizes totals by team. 

Top-Tier Soccer League Attendance by Country

Germans like their fussball, apparently. The country has the highest average attendance to association football matches in the world — better even than England, where the rules for what we call soccer were codified 150 years ago. 

More than 41,000 people on average attend matches in the Bundesliga, followed by the Premier League (England), La Liga (Spain) and Primera División (México). The U.S. ranks 11th, just behind soccer-crazy Brazil. 

Here’s a map, with darker shades representing higher attendance: 

Data | Larger Map | Source: Wikipedia

English Premier League Wins, Goals

Today’s match between Manchester United and Chelsea could well decide who wins the English Premier League title this season. Of course, both teams are comfortable in this position, having dominated the league in the last two decades along with two other elite clubs: Arsenal and Liverpool.

This column chart shows that dominance, both in wins (470 for Manchester United and 383 for Chelsea) and goals (1,445 and 1,214, respectively) since 1992.

Wins:

Goals:

View interactive versions: wins, goals

Source: Barclays Premier League | Data: XML