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 herehttps://www.kaggle.com/model284/a-defensive-player-coverage-evaluation-framework. The winning teams will now present their models to the NFL and compete for an overall prize.