Winning Numbers: The Defensive Statistics Needed to Win in NCAA Division III Football
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the importance of specific defensive statistics among the top twenty-five Division III football teams and the bottom twenty-five Division III football teams. The defensive statistics that were analyzed were defensive sacks per game, defensive turnover per game, defensive third down efficiency rating, defensive points allowed per game, defensive fourth down efficiency rating, rushing yards allowed per game, and passing yards allowed per game. This thesis used a two – sample t-test assuming equal variances to analyze and evaluate the data that was gathered in this study. The wins and losses were not weighted in this study as each team begins the season with zero wins and zero loses. The highest number of wins that a team could have throughout the course of a season in NCAA Division III was and continues to be fifteen. Multiple teams can finish with zero wins but only one team can finish with fifteen wins if any at all. During the 2014 season one team, Wisconsin Whitewater, the Division III National Champion did finish with fifteen wins since they went undefeated. Doing well in a certain defensive category does not guarantee that a team would go undefeated and win all fifteen games. However, what the analysis does support is what defensive statistical categories are more important for winning football games. This thesis found that all defensive statistics are important but specific defensive statistics will determine how successful a football team at the NCAA Division III level will be. This study found a significant difference in certain defensive statistical categories between Division III football teams with the most wins and those with the least wins. The researcher found that defensive point per game, rushing yards allowed per game, defensive turnovers per game, defensive third down efficiency, defensive sacks per game, and passing yards allowed per game all played pivotal roles in determining if a team was going to win the football game. If a team performs well in these six areas they will have a great opportunity at winning the game. If a team does not perform well in these six areas then they will not have a great opportunity at winning the game.
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