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Jacob Bundrick, University of Central Arkansas (ROSES)

Author: Jacob Bundrick, University of Central Arkansas

Title: Mixed Strategy and the Money Down: A Field Test from American College Football

Abstract: Field tests of mixed strategies have primarily focused on the play of experts, leaving to question whether players of moderate quality adhere to the predictions of mixed-strategy equilibrium. This paper fills that gap by examining the matching pennies game using third-down play calls in American college football. Specifically, I use the Firth logit to analyze data from the University of Central Arkansas’s (UCA) 476 offensive third-down plays from the team’s 33 contests played during the 2018-2020 seasons. Moreover, I exploit the offense’s discretization of third-down distances to observe whether decision makers alter their tactics to play mixed strategies when conditions change. Preliminary results indicate that play types are called in a manner consistent with the equalization of success rates across strategies, but tests of serial independence in play calls provide mixed results.