When an NFL ball carrier takes a handoff, how many yards should we expect the play to gain?

That was the question participants in the NFL’s second Big Data Bowl attempted to answer in the 2020 Big Data Bowl.

More than 2,000 data scientists from all over the world competed on Kaggle to predict rushing play outcomes during Weeks 13 through 17 of the 2019 regular season. Submissions to this year’s contest were tracked using a leaderboard that updated weekly, with the participants who most accurately predicted how many yards rushers would gain winning the competition. The top submissions shared $75,000 in prizes, and top contestants will have the opportunity to share their findings with team officials at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February 2020.

Data scientists Philipp Singer and Dmitry Gordeev from Austria captured the top prize of $50,000. Singer and Gordeev’s team led throughout the contest, besting second place by the same scoring margin that separated second place and 24th place.

See the 2020 Big Data Bowl winning submission

In addition to the Kaggle contest, undergraduate and graduate students participated in a separate competition where they competed to share their methods and results with NFL team analytics staff. The top collegiate finalists were chosen based on the innovation, accuracy, relevance and clarity of their submissions. 

The following students were named finalists in this year’s collegiate event, in no particular order:

  • Graham Pash, Walker Powell (NC State)
  • Alex Stern (Virginia)
  • Namrata Ray, Jugal Marfatia (Washington State)
  • Caio Brighenti (Colgate)
  • Kellin Rumsey, Brandon DeFlon, Zach Stuart (New Mexico)
  • Matt Ploenzke (Harvard)

Students receiving honorable mention, in no particular order, include:

  • Bryant Davis (Florida)
  • Aaron Kruchten (Carnegie Mellon)
  • Lucas Wu, Dani Chu, Matthew Reyers (Simon Fraser)