Statistically Speaking: Ticket City Edition

Here are the national rankings for Houston vs. Penn State from the NCAA:

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NCAA Stats Comparison
Category: Penn St. Houston Delta
Rushing 54 62 8
Passing Offense 96 1 -95
Total Offense 94 1 -93
Scoring Offense 110 1 -109
Rushing Defense 48 77 29
Turnovers Gained 28 16 -12
Passes Had Intercepted 35 9 -26
Pass Defense 5 48 43
Net Punting 78 60 -18
Punt Returns 77 9 -68
Kickoff Returns 32 55 23
Turnover Margin 32 8 -24
Fumbles Recovered 29 52 23
Passes Intercepted 24 5 -19
Fumbles Lost 92 42 -50
Turnovers Lost 65 11 -54
Passing Efficiency 112 3 -109
Pass Efficiency Defense 5 24 19
Total Defense 10 64 54
Scoring Defense 5 41 36
Fewest Penalties Per Game 29 64 35
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game 30 58 28
Punt Return Yardage Defense 66 74 8
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense 63 60 -3
Offense Third-down Efficiency 95 6 -89
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency 27 39 12
Defense Third-down Efficiency 52 47 -5
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency 32 47 15
Tackles for Loss 30 4 -26
Offense Tackles for Loss 2 5 3
Pass Sacks 26 35 9
Pass Sacks Allowed 16 33 17
Time of Possession 55 115 60
First Downs 89 2 -87
First Downs Allowed 19 64 45
Red Zone Efficiency 91 39 -52
Red Zone Efficiency – Defense 119 2 -117
Average NCAA Rank: 50.59 34.68 -15.92
Weighted Avg. Rank: 54.08 32.5 -21.58

Here is Houston’s schedule for 2011:

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2011 Houston Cougars Schedule
Date Opponent Result Record Opp. Record
Sept. 3 UCLA W 38-34 1-0 (0-0) 6-7 *
Sept. 10 at North Texas W 48-23 2-0 (0-0) 5-7
Sept. 17 at La Tech W 35-34 3-0 (0-0) 8-4 *
Sept. 24 GEORGIA STATE W 56-0 4-0 (0-0) 3-8
Sept. 29 at UTEP W 49-42 5-0 (1-0) 5-7
Oct. 8 EAST CAROLINA W 56-3 6-0 (2-0) 5-7
Oct. 22 MARSHALL W 63-28 7-0 (3-0) 6-6 *
Oct. 27 RICE W 73-34 8-0 (4-0) 4-8
Nov. 5 at UAB W 56-13 9-0 (5-0) 3-9
Nov. 10 at Tulane W 73-17 10-0 (6-0) 2-11
Nov. 19 SMU W 37-7 11-0 (7-0) 7-5 *
Nov. 25 at Tulsa W 48-16 12-0 (8-0) 8-4 *
Dec. 3 SOUTHERN MISS L 49-28 12-1 (8-1) 11-2 *
*=bowl

While Houston’s national NCAA rankings are impressive (34.68 ranks 6th in the country–PSU’s 50.59 ranks 37th), I am kind of underwhelmed by their schedule.  Southern Miss (21st in the BCS) is the only ranked team they have played.  By contrast, Penn State played nine bowl bound opponents and the Owls have already won their bowl impressively, beating Wyoming 37-15.  Five oppoennts play in January. 

Houston’s offensive numbers are impressive–their defense is meh.  But how good is that offense?  If you look at the defenses (Georgia Southern not included) they have faced, the best defense was Southern Miss at 31, with an average NCAA ranking of 80 among all the Division 1A teams they faced.

To be fair, I compared the offenses that Penn State’s defense has faced to date.  The best was Wisconsin at 15th in the country, with an overall average ranking of 66, not including Indiana State.

Penn State may be without starting QB Matt McGloin.  It is not clear whether Drake and McGloin will face punishment for their altercation, but McGloin will need to be medically cleared to play.  Paul Jones might be eligible if his GPA cooperates.  Bolden apparently will not suffer any team punishment for a prank gone awry, where he stole a $2.00 bottle of Gatorade and then returned it to the store.  What?  No tattoo???  Don’t these kids today even know how to get into trouble?

The unknown quantity of coaching may play a factor.  Does Bradley have the job or not?  Honestly, rumors aside, he will not be the coach next season.  Rumors are flying that Larry Johnson, Sr. could be headed to Columbus to head up a defense for Urban Renewal.  Regardless of the outcome of the changes, the situation has to be a dsitraction both for the players and the coaches.

Penn State is currently a 5-6 point underdog.  Take McGloin out of the equation and add a coaching staff that is working on finding jobs elsewhere, and it doesn’t add up to a Penn State victory.  Unless of course, the Cougar offense is really over-rated.

Even though this isn’t a Joe Paterno-coached team anymore, it would be really nice to send his last team out on a positive note.

But that won’t happen unless Houston has a problem.

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Filed under analysis, football, Houston, Penn State, statistics, Ticket City Bowl

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