Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Statistically Speaking: Going Nuts Edition

Here are the NCAA statistical rankings for PSU and O$U:

NCAA Stats Comparison
Category:Penn St.Ohio St.Delta
Passing Offense8711831
Total Offense8810820
Scoring Offense10274-28
Rushing Defense2827-1
Turnovers Gained147965
Passes Had Intercepted314-27
Pass Defense52823
Net Punting9235-57
Punt Returns7833-45
Kickoff Returns1910-9
Turnover Margin21276
Fumbles Recovered3810971
Passes Intercepted93324
Fumbles Lost8721-66
Turnovers Lost603-57
Passing Efficiency10882-26
Pass Efficiency Defense44642
Total Defense8157
Scoring Defense31613
Fewest Penalties Per Game224624
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game274720
Punt Return Yardage Defense6230-32
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense6711-56
Offense Third-down Efficiency9678-18
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency12219
Defense Third-down Efficiency305323
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency5648-8
Tackles for Loss166145
Offense Tackles for Loss79891
Pass Sacks283810
Pass Sacks Allowed2411692
Time of Possession4334-9
First Downs7810527
First Downs Allowed14173
Red Zone Efficiency7724-53
Red Zone Efficiency - Defense11656-60
Average NCAA Rank:46.3548.051.70
Weighted Avg. Rank:50.3350.25-0.08

It almost goes without saying that Penn State has to minimize turnovers to win this game. I don't know if there is any other team that has thrown more pick sixes in Ohio Stadium since 1993. I pity them if they have.

But I also think we have to be better in the RED ZONE, both offensively and defensively, if we want to have much of a chance in this game.  The offense has been improving as the season wears on, but our defense is still ranked 116th out of 120 teams in the nation, allowing opponents to score 92% of the time when they reach the red zone.

Offensively, the Buckeyes are almost as bad as we are--in fact, we have an edge in total offense, but O$U has an edge in scoring offense.

Rushing defense is equal, with PSU having an edge in pass, pass efficiency, scoring and total defense.

I look for this to be a low scoring game with the team that makes the fewest mistakes prevailing.  Of course, that's almost as obvious as saying the team that scores the most points will win the game.  But I don't think either of these teams is going to light up the scoreboard much.  Last weeks gameplan still had Paterno's fingerprints on it, except for maybe the pass back to McGloin.  It will be interesting to see what Bradley comes up with this week, and whether we take any chances on the road--which we normally wouldn't do under Paterno.

I am also concerned about our kicking game, and this game may be decided by a field goal or two.  Last week's was.  And we came up short, er, wide right.

The Bucks are favored by a touchdown as of this writing.

Here is the season summary for the Bucknuts:

W  Akron 42-0 (Akron is 1-9)
W  Toledo 27-22
L   @ Miami (FL) 6-24
W  Colorado 37-17  (Colorado is 2-9)
L   Michigan State 7-10
L  @ Nebraska 27-34
W  Illinois 17-7
W  Wisconsin 33-29
W  Indiana 34-20
L  @Purdue 26-23 OT

In my preseason assessment, I ranked this game as the 4th toughest behind Bama, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.  A loss does not eliminate us from Big Ten contention, but it would be nice to get some positive momentum before heading to Madison for the final game.

Here was my preseason summary and prediction:
Now it may seem that I am counting the Bucks out this year. Au contraire. (That's French for not so fast.) I don't think we will win any game from this point on in the countdown. But of the remaining games, we might have a chance at this one if the wheels come off in Columbus. And I wouldn't be surprised if they do.
Will the team rally around Fickell and use this adversity to become better? They might. Or the distractions and changes might disrupt the Big Ten juggernaut and throw it out of its groove.
Prediction: I don't think we will win this game, as of typing this in August. If Penn State shows me something on the field, and Ohio State struggles with new coach/quarterback, then I might reconsider. I just hope that win or lose, we play a competitive game, and don't throw the game away with an overly conservative game plan on the road that plays right into their strength. Both wins over the Buckeyes came when we played conservative and they made the mistakes (the Troy Smith fumble in 2005 and the Pryor fumble in 2008.) Both were relatively low scoring, conservative games. Maybe that's the way to go, but if we get behind, I hope we try to make something happen instead of falling apart.
Well, at 6-4, O$U has struggled this season.  Of course, my Magic Eight Ball didn't tell me about the distractions that Penn State would face at this point.  I mean seriously, the odds of Paterno being fired before the end of the season had to be like infinity to 1.  WHO could have seen that coming?

Anyway, I think there is not enough at stake for us on the field, there are too many distractions, and with a reorganized coaching staff held together with band aids and duct tape, I don't think we can overcome the cheaters in Columbus.  I'd sacrifice a small animal, though, to win this game.  And the next one.  Two animals.  Small ones.  Vermin that no one likes anyway.  Maybe a mouse.  Or a gopher.  I'd even kill a wolverine for a couple of wins.  Just two more.

Can we do it????

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