Friday, December 31, 2010

Better Later Than Gator

I just realized that we have a bowl game tomorrow.  OK, I didn't JUST realize it.  I knew it was coming up.  But with holiday parties (I'm the entertainment for our office party--I also do Bar Mitzvahs and Birthdays), meeting with the accountant to figure out how much money I didn't make this year, Christmas, Christmas cards, running a football pool, watching NASCAR bowl games and drinking beer, I just didn't realize the game was coming up so soon.  I must also admit I've been distracted by all the Paterno rumors, which I do plan to blog about after the game is over so as not to distract myself any further.

But despite everything going on, the game is tomorrow.  PSU V. UF.  Paterno V. Meyer.  North V. South.  Big Ten V. SEC.  Tastes great V. Less Filling.

So how do we match up with these Gators?

Both teams are 7-5.  Like PSU, the Gators did not beat a ranked team on their schedule (PSU did beat THEM when they were ranked 25th in one poll, but who's counting?)

Here's how Florida fared:

Miami(OH)W 34-12
South FloridaW 38-14
TennesseeW 31-17
KentuckyW 48-14
AlabamaL 31-6
LSUL 33-29
Miss StateL 10-7
GeorgiaW 34-31 OT
VanderbiltW 55-14
South CarolinaL 36-14
App. StateW 48-10
F$UL 31-7

In the only common opponent, at Alabama, neither PSU nor Florida fared well.

In terms of NCAA rankings, here are how the two teams compare:

NCAA Stats Comparison
Category:Penn St.Florida
Passing Offense5285
Total Offense6879
Scoring Offense8048
Rushing Defense7626
Turnovers Gained10434
Passes Had Intercepted5547
Pass Defense2313
Net Punting241
Punt Returns5253
Kickoff Returns554
Turnover Margin6262
Fumbles Recovered9586
Passes Intercepted8311
Fumbles Lost3107
Turnovers Lost1891
Passing Efficiency6685
Pass Efficiency Defense7923
Total Defense459
Scoring Defense4031
Fewest Penalties Per Game3111
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game 394
Punt Return Yardage Defense4371
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense4234
Offense Third-down Efficiency4273
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency7563
Defense Third-down Efficiency854
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency1486
Tackles for Loss8741
Offense Tackles for Loss674
Pass Sacks10176
Pass Sacks Allowed1260
Time of Possession4490
First Downs6668
First Downs Allowed3526
Red Zone Efficiency76116
Red Zone Efficiency - Defense11853
Average NCAA Rank:52.1657.54
Weighted Avg. Rank:57.542.17

Penn State has a slight edge in average overall ranking, but the weighted rank, which gives more weight to important categories like Total Offense and Defense, and less emphasis to categories like total penalties, we see that Florida has the better team on paper.

Neither offense is very good, but PSU has a slight edge, especially in scoring.  Uncharacteristically, the PSU defense is struggling this year and the numbers reflect that.  Florida has the edge here and defense is usually the more important factor in winning these games.

But what about the intangibles?

Will the Florida players be motivated to send Urban off with a win?  Or will the uncertainty of their future and the hoopla surrounding the resignation be a distraction?

For Penn State, are the rumors true?  Will Paterno step down afterward?  (I don't think so.)  Are the rumors a distraction, or will they fire up the team the way it seems to have fired up both Joe AND Sue Paterno?

Paterno has done well in bowl games over his career.  Generally if you give Joe enough time, he will have his team prepared.  There have been exceptions to this rule, including the last bowl game against Florida, although PSU played without two of its star players in that match-up.

Penn State is 0-2 all-time versus Florida.

The line favors Florida by 7.5 points.

I think Paterno finds a way to put things together, hopefully using the bowl game as a springboard to a great season next year.  I pick PSU in a close one--somewhere around 20-17.


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