Posted: Monday September 24, 2012 12:15 PM

Alabama rolls to top of UPS Team Performance Index

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Alabama has rolled past its opposition all season. After another easy win, the Crimson Tide rolled to the top of the latest UPS Team Performance Index as well.

The No. 1 team in the AP poll jumped to the head of the index from the No. 4 spot on the strength of a 40-7 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday. Alabama limited the overmatched Owls to 34 passing yards and 110 overall, marking the second straight week the Tide held their opponent under 80 passing yards and below 150 total.

Using an advanced proprietary formula featuring offensive yards per play, defensive yards allowed per play, various special teams statistics and a microindex of miscues that rewards disciplined teams, UPS has teamed with STATS LLC to normalize those numbers across all 120 FBS schools.

From there, balance is measured for all of a team's individual units, with the final index weighted toward excellence in those areas and overall winning percentage.

Much like its 52-0 dismantling of Arkansas the previous week, Alabama (4-0) started strongly with a touchdown on its opening possession and didn't relent until the game was well in hand. A.J. McCarron had two first-quarter scoring passes as the Crimson Tide had a whopping 353-23 edge in total yards by halftime and finished with a season-high 503 - displaying a near-perfect balance with 256 rushing yards and 247 through the air.

It's that exact type of domination across all facets of the game that the index looks to reward.

"I was much more pleased with the way we competed," coach Nick Saban said. "Just the way we approached the game ... I think those things are going to benefit us down the road, and even though they drove the ball, we actually probably played a little bit better this week than last week."

Discipline, a trademark of Saban-coached teams, is another key reason the Tide ended Florida State's two-week run atop the index. Alabama has committed just two turnovers all season and has been whistled for only 18 penalties in four games. The Seminoles - ranked fourth in the AP poll - slipped to third in the index despite a 49-31 victory over Clemson (No. 17 AP, No. 50 UPS) on Saturday in which they committed two turnovers and 11 penalties while rolling up 667 yards of total offense.

Next up for Alabama is SEC West rival Mississippi (3-1), which jumped 34 spots to 60th after a 39-0 victory at Tulane which saw it allow only 159 yards while forcing four turnovers.

Another of the Tide's division rivals, LSU (4-0), remained No. 2 in the index after squeaking by 106th-ranked Auburn 12-10 on the road. LSU, which slipped behind Oregon to third in the AP Top 25, held Auburn to 183 total yards and has yet to allow more than 219 in any contest.

The 4-0 Ducks were the biggest climbers among undefeated teams in the index, vaulting from 47th to 29th after throttling Arizona 49-0. While Oregon's offense and defensive units have excelled this season, miscues could wind up costing it down the road as it ranks 98th across BCS teams in that category due to high penalty yardage and 2.5 turnovers per game.

West Virginia (3-0, No. 9 AP) also enjoyed a double-digit bounce from 25th to 11th after its 31-21 victory over Maryland. The Mountaineers, who will make their Big 12 debut versus 3-0 Baylor (No. 25 AP, No. 32 UPS) this weekend, have committed only one turnover and 14 penalties thus far while averaging 370.0 passing yards and 529.0 total yards.

"I've got a bunch of guys who like to play football and understand what's at stake," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They like to play, they enjoy each other and I think that we are a real close team and getting tighter by the week. They understand what we have to do to get better and we'll go back to work and get ready for Baylor."

Oregon State (2-0), which won at previously 19th-ranked UCLA to follow up its upset of Wisconsin and entered the AP Top 25 at No. 18, is the lowest-ranked unbeaten team in the index at 55th. The Beavers' best metrics are a passing game that has averaged 327.5 yards and a defense that has allowed just four third-down conversions in 29 attempts.

"Our defense is awesome. I can't say that enough,'' quarterback Sean Mannion said. "They gave us so many chances to make plays on offense. It's tough going against them in practice, so it's not surprising how good they are in the game. They're a great, great unit and I'm glad they're on our team.''

The Beavers next play at Arizona (3-1), which plummeted 31 spots to 42nd in the index after being shellacked by the Ducks.

 
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