# Mathletics: How Gamblers, Managers, and Sports Enthusiasts Use Mathematics in Baseball, Basketball, and Football

By Wayne Winston | Go to book overview

25
TO GIVE UP THE BALL IS BETTER

The Case of College Football Overtime
In college football tie games are resolved with overtime. The winner of a coin toss chooses whether to start with the ball or to give the ball to his opponent. The first team with the ball begins on the opponent's 25- yard line and keeps going until they attempt a field goal, score a touchdown, or lose possession. Then the other team gets the ball on their opponent's 25- yard line and keeps going until they attempt a field goal, score a touchdown, or lose possession. The team that is ahead at this point is the winner. If the score is still tied, the order of possessions is reversed and the pro cess is repeated. After the second overtime each team must attempt a two- point conversion. Rosen and Wilson tabulated the outcomes for all overtime games through 2006 and found that the team that had the ball second won 54.9% of the time.1 This would indicate that the coach who wins the toss should elect to give the other team the ball. The intuitive appeal of giving the ball up is that when you finally get the ball you will know what you need to do to win or keep the game going. For example, if the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown, the other team must go for a touchdown. If the team with the ball first fails to score, then the other team needs a field goal to win. Can we model the “flexibility” of the team that possesses the ball second in a way that is consistent with Rosen and Wilson's findings? Rosen and Wilson give the following parameter values:
 • probability team with ball first scores touchdown: .466 • probability team with ball first scores field goal: .299 • probability team with ball first does not score: .235

1 Rosen and Wilson, “An Analysis of the Defense First Strategy in College Football Over-
time Games.”

-172-

If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes

#### Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

#### Cited page

Mathletics: How Gamblers, Managers, and Sports Enthusiasts Use Mathematics in Baseball, Basketball, and Football

Settings

#### Settings

Typeface
Text size Reset View mode
Search within

Look up

#### Look up a word

• Dictionary
• Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
• Bookmarks
• Highlights & Notes
• Citations
/ 358

### How to highlight and cite specific passages

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

## Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

## Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.