Defense Wins Championships: Statistics Ph.D. Students Triumph in NFL Big Data Bowl

February 5, 2021

Wei Peng and Marc Richards, 5th and 2nd year Ph.D. students in Statistics, are part of a four-person winning team in the 2021 NFL Big Data BowlIn this year’s challenge, contestants used data science to better understand the schemes and players that make for a successful defense against passing plays. Some two hundred individuals and teams entered the College and Open Competitions. The team of Peng, Richards, Sam Walczak, a UMN Data Science M.S. Student and Reinsurance Catastrophe Analyst, and data scientist Jack Werner were selected as one of five finalist teams in the Open Competition and received a $15,000 award. Their winning paper, “A Framework for Accessing Individual Defensive Performance in Coverage,” can be accessed here The winning teams will now present their models to the NFL and compete for an overall prize.