Too Many Jaguars

This Saturday, Tech opens up its season on the road against the South Alabama Jaguars. Then, next week, the Bulldogs return home to play the Southern Jaguars. That’s two straight weeks of playing a team called the Jaguars.

At first that doesn’t sound too impressive, right? I mean the SEC has three teams named the Tigers. So other SEC teams play against Tigers all the time. Even C-USA has two teams named the Owls (FAU and Rice). Tech doesn’t play FAU and Rice back-to-back this year, but it wouldn’t be too surprising if some team has, but I am far too lazy to check.

But those are Tigers and Owls, we’re talking about Jaguars.

And no team in the history of college football has played back-to-back games against a team called the Jaguars. In fact, “officially”, only two other teams in FBS history has played two games in the same season against two Jaguar teams.

I put officially in quotes because before Tech, ULL (2014) and ULM (2016) also played both Jaguars in the same season, but seeing as both programs are just glorified FCS squads, Tech is basically about to be the first FBS program to have a two Jaguar season.

But, like, why?

There are seven college athletic teams that use the name “Jaguars.” In addition to the two mentioned above, there are:

  • Augusta
  • Governors State
  • Houston Victoria
  • IUPUI
  • Spelman (Ended athletics in 2012)

If you’ve never heard of any of these schools, that’s because only a couple of these schools only play any sports at the Division 1 level. Augusta only has men’s and women’s golf. IUPUI has 18 sports teams at the D1 level, but that doesn’t include the only one that matters football.

So that means South Alabama and Southern are the only Jaguar teams in college football. But that’s not the only reason back-to-back Jaguar games haven’t happened before.

Southern University has a long, storied history in college football. The Baton Rouge Jags started playing in 1916 and have even been playing in the same conference since 1934.

South Alabama, on the other hand, is a different story. The University of South Alabama wasn’t even founded until 1963. The Mobile Jags started their athletic program in 1976, as one of the Sun Belt’s charter members. The school didn’t add a football team until 2009.

So that means we’ve only had nine years where playing two Jaguar teams (whether back-to-back or not) was possible.

Woo, Now It’s Graph Time

So being the first is cool and all that, but how has Tech performed against these teams named Jaguars? Unfortunately, we have a pretty small sample size:

football comp.png

I wish making every chart was this easy.

Tech beat South Alabama last year and Southern in 2015 and… well… that’s about it. Tech never played a team called the Jaguars in football before the year where people thought those hoverboard scooter things were a good idea.

But What About Other Sports?

So what if we cast a wider net and see how Tech did against Jaguars in other sports? Well, some sports are better than others:

by sport.png

With a few exceptions, it appears Tech performs quite well against the Panthera oncas.

So we know light blue is Southern and Red is South Alabama, but what’s that golden column?

Well, remember that list of seven Jaguar teams at the beginning of this post? Well, it turns out IUPUI doesn’t have a football team, but they do have a softball team. Lady Techsters Softball has defeated the IUPUI Fighting Acronyms three times: twice in a doubleheader in 2008, and once more at a tournament that Southern Miss hosted in 2012.

And fun unrelated fact: Both U’s in IUPUI stand for University.

But the biggest weakness of this chart is that it doesn’t show the number of games by each team. So Softball has a winning percentage of zero against South Alabama, but there have only been three games between the teams. Meanwhile, the Women’s Basketball team has played 21 games against South Alabama without a loss, close to the program record of 24 against UT Pan American.

So to see how Tech has done overall versus the Jaguars, we need a more delicious chart:

total wl.png

Yeah, we’ve got a tie in there. Soccer is weird.

Conclusion

So if these trends mean anything and they probably don’t, Tech should be well prepared for Week 1 against the Jaguars and Week 2 also against the Jaguars. And according to MasseyRatings, Tech is favored by 7 against USA and 35 against Southern.

But I’m not saying Tech’s favored in both games because these teams are called the Jaguars…

Actually, you know what? That’s exactly what I’m saying.

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