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:
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Team Result
Miami(OH) W 34-12
South Florida W 38-14
Tennessee W 31-17
Kentucky W 48-14
Alabama L 31-6
LSU L 33-29
Miss State L 10-7
Georgia W 34-31 OT
Vanderbilt W 55-14
South Carolina L 36-14
App. State W 48-10
F$U L 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:
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NCAA Stats Comparison
Category: Penn St. Florida
Rushing 75 44
Passing Offense 52 85
Total Offense 68 79
Scoring Offense 80 48
Rushing Defense 76 26
Turnovers Gained 104 34
Passes Had Intercepted 55 47
Pass Defense 23 13
Net Punting 24 1
Punt Returns 52 53
Kickoff Returns 55 4
Turnover Margin 62 62
Fumbles Recovered 95 86
Passes Intercepted 83 11
Fumbles Lost 3 107
Turnovers Lost 18 91
Passing Efficiency 66 85
Pass Efficiency Defense 79 23
Total Defense 45 9
Scoring Defense 40 31
Fewest Penalties Per Game 3 111
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game 3 94
Punt Return Yardage Defense 43 71
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense 42 34
Offense Third-down Efficiency 42 73
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency 75 63
Defense Third-down Efficiency 8 54
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency 14 86
Tackles for Loss 87 41
Offense Tackles for Loss 6 74
Pass Sacks 101 76
Pass Sacks Allowed 12 60
Time of Possession 44 90
First Downs 66 68
First Downs Allowed 35 26
Red Zone Efficiency 76 116
Red Zone Efficiency – Defense 118 53
Average NCAA Rank: 52.16 57.54
Weighted Avg. Rank: 57.5 42.17

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.

GO STATE!  BEAT GATORS!

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Filed under analysis, Florida, football, Joe Paterno, Penn State, statistics, Urban Meyer

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