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Just how dominant was Stanford on Saturday against UC Davis?

It's awfully impressive for a lopsided win - one of the most impressive in recent history

Ezra Shaw

You may not have realized this during the game, but you were actually experiencing a special flavor of dominance during Saturday’s Davis destruction. Stanford has dominated its opponents -- frequently, that is -- during the current era, but you can distinguish levels of whooping if you examine things more closely.

The standard of play has gotten so high it’s necessary to carve out special mezzanine levels of greatness, and that’s just fun. Here’s how I arrive at that conclusion. My favorite statistic for a quick, drive-by assessment of play with little intervention from regression modeling and other complex calculations is yards per play. And the difference between the yards per play on offense and defense provides a handy encapsulation of the level of quality of a team over the course of the season, and the level of dominance in a particular game. (Though Stanford was unfortunate by those standards last year -- in all three losses the team outgained its opponent by yards per play.)

So, here are some of the most dominant performances by a Stanford team, sorted by yards per play differential:

Game YPP - O YPP - D YPP - Diff Score Diff
Sac State - 2010 8.53 2.75 5.78 35
Va Tech - 2010 9.89 4.3 5.59 28
UC-D - 2014 7.44 2.35 5.09 45
Wake Forest -2010 8.11 3.88 4.23 44
Colorado - 2012 5.89 1.73 4.16 48
ASU - 2013 8.34 4.57 3.77 24
Duke - 2011 8.4 4.65 3.75 30
SJSU - 2009 6.95 3.4 3.55 25

Dominant! Of course, you can’t simply extrapolate one game’s dominance into the rest of the season, and it doesn’t take into account the quality of the opponent. (Although note that the 2008 and ‘09 teams, the last years for which I can easily access game-by-game yards per play data, never managed a performance quite so thorough as Saturday’s, against any opposition.) So I doubt it means all that much as a prognostication tool; it’s mostly a numerical confirmation of what our eyes saw -- destruction.