Statistically Speaking: Going Nuts Edition

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

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NCAA Stats Comparison
Category: Penn St. Ohio St. Delta
Rushing 58 27 -31
Passing Offense 87 118 31
Total Offense 88 108 20
Scoring Offense 102 74 -28
Rushing Defense 28 27 -1
Turnovers Gained 14 79 65
Passes Had Intercepted 31 4 -27
Pass Defense 5 28 23
Net Punting 92 35 -57
Punt Returns 78 33 -45
Kickoff Returns 19 10 -9
Turnover Margin 21 27 6
Fumbles Recovered 38 109 71
Passes Intercepted 9 33 24
Fumbles Lost 87 21 -66
Turnovers Lost 60 3 -57
Passing Efficiency 108 82 -26
Pass Efficiency Defense 4 46 42
Total Defense 8 15 7
Scoring Defense 3 16 13
Fewest Penalties Per Game 22 46 24
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game 27 47 20
Punt Return Yardage Defense 62 30 -32
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense 67 11 -56
Offense Third-down Efficiency 96 78 -18
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency 12 21 9
Defense Third-down Efficiency 30 53 23
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency 56 48 -8
Tackles for Loss 16 61 45
Offense Tackles for Loss 7 98 91
Pass Sacks 28 38 10
Pass Sacks Allowed 24 116 92
Time of Possession 43 34 -9
First Downs 78 105 27
First Downs Allowed 14 17 3
Red Zone Efficiency 77 24 -53
Red Zone Efficiency – Defense 116 56 -60
Average NCAA Rank: 46.35 48.05 1.70
Weighted Avg. Rank: 50.33 50.25 -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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Filed under analysis, Big Ten, football, Ohio State, Penn State, statistics

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