Friday, November 9, 2012

Statistically Speaking: Corn Field Edition

Looking at the NCAA stats for Penn State and Nebraska . . .

NCAA Stats Comparison  
Category:Penn St.Nebraska
Passing Offense3779
Total Offense5517
Scoring Offense6220
Rushing Defense2687
Turnovers Gained4272
Passes Had Intercepted870
Pass Defense435
Net Punting11878
Punt Returns9224
Kickoff Returns11363
Turnover Margin14106
Fumbles Recovered2053
Passes Intercepted6880
Fumbles Lost20116
Turnovers Lost7110
Passing Efficiency5733
Pass Efficiency Defense228
Total Defense2631
Scoring Defense1454
Fewest Penalties Per Game4280
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game60102
Punt Return Yardage Defense115103
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense7262
Offense Third-down Efficiency4943
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency5820
Defense Third-down Efficiency5337
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency2626
Tackles for Loss7231
Offense Tackles for Loss151
Pass Sacks2720
Pass Sacks Allowed3569
Time of Possession2760
First Downs3621
First Downs Allowed2628
Red Zone Efficiency8928
Red Zone Efficiency - Defense743
Average NCAA Rank:46.5952.32
Weighted Avg. Rank:46.5843.67

The weighted stats give extra "weight" to categories like total offense and total defense, while putting less emphasis on categories like Fewest Penalties per game. Straight up, PSU has about a 6 rank point edge over Big Red.  That disappears to a deficit when weighted.  Does that mean anything?  Probably no more than any other statistic you can throw out there.

I think the key match-up for us will be our rushing defense against their rushing defense.  Nebraska's ability to move the ball will be dependent on whether our offense can control the time of possession, whether we can force Martinez to pass (put them in third and long if possible) and whether Rex Burkhead is back and is back 100% or not.  In other words, keep the Big Red O off the field, and when they are out there, force them into passing situations.

Both teams are statistically similar in total defense and third down efficiency on offense.   I believe Penn State will have to be better on third downs than Nebraska to win this game, barring some big plays.  Better third down efficiency keeps drives alive, keeps their defense on the field, and wins time of possession.  You are also more likely to score if you control the ball longer.

This game may come down to some intangibles.  Obviously, the Huskers have the home field advantage and have not lost at home this season.  Yet.  They also have more to play for . . . a berth in the Big Ten Title game.  But, that may be to our advantage, as they also have more to lose than we do.  That could allow us to play looser and gamble more.  They may be more conservative and play tight.  Of course, I could be full of crap, and unfortunately, this latter scenario is more likely.

Let's go with Penn State 35 (all TDs, no FGs) and Nebrask 31.  Sounds like a plan?  And don't we love it when a plan comes together?

No comments: