We're half way through the season so I finally feel like comparing stats between two teams is a worth while venture. It's pretty pointless when teams have only played two or three games against Div I-AA and non-BCS opponents.
One thing that always bugged me about these things is when you see these comparison charts where they compare Team X quarterback against Team Y quarterback and determine Team X has the advantage because they have a better quarterback. Football is a game of matchups, and unless Team Y lines up their quarterback at safety the two players will never be on the field at the same time. So I'm taking a little different approach and trying to compare relative stats like Run Offense to Run Defense. I'm thinking this will give a better indication of how our strengths match up with Wisconsin's weaknesses and visa-versa. The advantage column is determined by the NCAA rankings which appear in parenthesis. When the two teams are within ten spots of each other I say it's within the margin of error and call it a push.
More analysis after the jump.
Um. Wow. When you look at it this way Wisconsin's chances don't look very good. But there are just a few matchups that really stand out to me.
Wisconsin has had trouble getting sacks and pressure on the quarterback. Penn State has been highly effective in protecting Daryll Clark. So it's reasonable to assume Clark will have adequate time to stand in the pocket and survey the field. Perhaps related to this fact is that Wisconsin has had difficulty getting stops on third down while Penn State has been highly efficient on third down. This does not bode well for the Badgers.
You can bet when Wisconsin has the ball they will try to run it down our throat. While Penn State's 80 ypg allowed on the ground looks good, we really haven't played a team that boasts a running game similar to what we are about to face. Temple, Oregon State, Syracuse, and Purdue were just not good at running the ball. Illinois is a good running team and they gained 189 yards on us. Wisconsin is better than them. So what we have here is the proverbial irresistible force and immovable object. We'll find out who wins.
I'm also struck by how efficient the Penn State defense has been at stopping teams on third down. I didn't realize we were that good. The Badgers are pretty average when it comes to converting, so I think if we can stop Hill and Clay on first and second down and force them into long yardage situations on third down we'll be in pretty good shape.
Special teams look pretty even except for the fact Penn State is third in the nation in kick returns. Again, I didn't realize this. But then a small sample size (very little scoring by our opponents) and having Williams return one all the way will do that to your average. If they keep playing like they did against Purdue that average will drop pretty quickly.
So what this all boils down to is that on paper Penn State should win. But then we all know these games aren't played on paper. They're played by little men in your television set.