College Football Time of Possession

Some stats matter and some are rather meaningless. Like time of possession at college football games. It doesn\’t matter much. At least you can\’t determine the winner of a game by looking at that stat.

I grew up watching BYU football in the glory days of Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielsen, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, and Ty Detmer. The passing attack was the best in the nation for many years.

Now, BYU is back, and but for a couple of unlucky finishes, BYU would be 6-0. Instead, we are 4-2, but the BYU passing and running attacks are great this year. The defense too. Quarterback John Beck had an incredible passing efficiency today.

I\’ve always loved tracking passing efficiency. I think Steve Young set the all-time record for single season passing efficiency in the NFL with the 49ers. (Correct me if I\’m wrong.) And today John Beck\’s number was 245.84, a career high.

I\’ve always wanted a passing efficiency calculator and I found one today on

So today\’s time of possession was SDSU 39 minutes, BYU 21 minutes.

But the final score was BYU 47, SDSU 17. And after the first half, where SDSU had the ball most of the time, it was 40-3.

BYU scored fast and scored often.

I thought about Google\’s business model today while watching the BYU team operate. Google doesn\’t care about time of possession. In fact, its business model works best when you go to the site, do a search, and then leave the site having clicked on a paid link. The faster you leave, the more profit Google makes.

For Google, that is a score.

In a pay-per-click business model, who cares about stickiness really? All it does is cost you more money because of bandwidth and computing costs if you have more visitors on your web site more often.

On the other hand, if you are an impression-based advertising model, then time of possession matters a lot. The more time visitors spend with you, the more ads they will see.

I\’ve seen BYU score hundreds of times over the years in less than two minutes. So time of possession really is no big deal when you have a passing attack.

Of course, the best comeback ever in college football history was BYU vs SMU in the 1980 Holiday Bowl. (See web site that lists the 100 best college football finishes ever.)

BYU trails by 20 points, 45-25 with 2:55 to go in the game and scores three TDs in the last 2:55 to win 46-45. The last one, a 45-yard Hail Mary from Jim McMahon as time expires.

Can you even imagine a college football team scoring three touchdowns in 2:55? And BYU did it at the end of a bowl game, which is aptly named the Miracle Bowl.

I know I\’m off topic, but it\’s fun to think about this great bowl finish 26 years ago and to hope that BYU under head coach Bronco Mendenhall is moving towards creating another football dynasty.

2 thoughts on “College Football Time of Possession

  1. Speaking of Bronco Mendenhall, I heard him speak last year at the BYU Business Alumni Conference and he was by far the BEST presenter of the whole conference, not so much in “content” relating to business, but in engaging the audience and getting everyone to believe in him before the first season, I was totally sold on him as a coach and in what he would accomplish as CEO of BYU football, he seems to be doing very well in executing the mission of the church, school, etc. in a game. He asked in his speech, “what is the most visible arm of the church?” BYU Football. I guess I never thought of it that way. He calls them stripling warriors even. He cares more about their worthiness and honor than their winning, well maybe that’s equal! I think he’s great. I hope the team will continue to be too.

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