By The Numbers: Michigan State

Here are the current NCAA rankings for Penn State and MSU:

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NCAA Stats Comparison
Category: Penn St. Michigan St.
Rushing 41 67
Passing Offense 47 21
Total Offense 45 34
Scoring Offense 51 30
Rushing Defense 8 24
Turnovers Gained 56 109
Passes Had Intercepted 59 37
Pass Defense 17 94
Net Punting 114 48
Punt Returns 107 60
Kickoff Returns 113 7
Turnover Margin 61 88
Fumbles Recovered 69 69
Passes Intercepted 36 108
Fumbles Lost 31 49
Turnovers Lost 43 35
Passing Efficiency 36 18
Pass Efficiency Defense 16 79
Total Defense 9 50
Scoring Defense 4 56
Fewest Penalties Per Game 3 71
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game 3 63
Punt Return Yardage Defense 117 59
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense 57 62
Offense Third-down Efficiency 4 70
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency 55 44
Defense Third-down Efficiency 16 90
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency 12 77
Tackles for Loss 7 72
Offense Tackles for Loss 10 25
Pass Sacks 9 19
Pass Sacks Allowed 18 18
Time of Possession 16 82
First Downs 44 42
First Downs Allowed 10 58
Red Zone Efficiency 28 35
Red Zone Efficiency – Defense 1 119
Average NCAA Rank: 37.11 56.46
Weighted Avg. Rank: 37.42 50.75

Once again, Penn State out-performs its opponent . . . ON PAPER.

Michigan State leads the usual categories . . . special teams. But defensively, the Spartans do not match up well. Note the marked disparity in Red Zone defense–PSU is the best in the country while MSU is one away from being worst. Of course, if we play on special teams like we did last week–the last two weeks–we probably won’t have good enough field position to even get close enough to sniff the red zone.

The two offenses are comparable, but PSU has the defensive edge.

There’s certainly no indication as the season has gone on that our special teams will improve, so I look for the Spartans to take advantage of field position and keep this game close. Penn State actually is ranked higher in turnover margin, albeit by a slim advantage.

The oddsmakers pick Penn State by 3.

Michigan State is the sixth most difficult team we have faced statistically (see chart below.) I do not include Akron since that was the first game of the season and no stats were available for comparison. These comparisons are based on the teams AT THE TIME WE PLAYED THEM–not current stats. There are no stats for Eastern Illinois either.

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Opponent NCAA Rank PSU Rank Delta
Ohio State 39.41 30.41 -9
Iowa 47.24 42.89 -4.35
Northwestern 52.43 32.49 -19.94
THEM 55.38 37.14 -18.24
Temple 56.19 45.49 -10.7
Michigan State 56.46 37.11 -19.35
Syracuse 59.57 37.16 -22.41
Indiana 63.49 34.7 -28.79
Minnesota 64.22 39.78 -24.44
Illinois 79.11 49.38 -29.73
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Filed under football, Michigan State, Penn State, statistics

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