Difference <25 in National Rank = Push
Difference >25 in National Rank =
Difference >50 in National Rank =
Difference >75 in National Rank =
Differences >100 in National Rank =
Note:The Redzone TD% and Redzone TD% Defense are calculated by me and not ranked by the NCAA. Determining who has the advantage in these categories is strictly my arbitrary judgement.
More analysis after the jump.
Advantages For Minnesota
Clearly, the Gophers will have an advantage in the kicking game. Usually this is just a function of Penn State being really bad, but in this case the Gophers are also really good ranking in the top 25 in net punting, punt returns, and kickoff returns. It would not surprise me one bit if Minnesota got a special teams touchdown.
I've been scratching my head trying to figure out why Penn State's net punting number is so bad when Jeremy Boone is averaging 48.1 yards per punt with only five returns on the year, and then I realized the 53 yard blocked punt against Iowa counted as a punt return pulling Boone's numbers down like cement shoes. So the advantage for Minnesota in returning punts may be a bit skewed.
Advantages For Penn State
Just about everything other than special teams. It kind of looks like Minnesota can hold their own on defense, but if you look more closely at the rankings, there are several categories where Penn State is just one or two rankings away from earning another .
Looking at Minnesota's offensive numbers just confirms what I've already suspected. They are a one dimensional team that revolves around Eric Decker. Their rushing offense is terrible. Their overall passing numbers are so-so, but Decker's individual numbers are unreal (46 catches, 689 yds, 5 TD). To give you a sense of how big that is, quarterback Adam Weber only has 1224 yards and 6 TD, so Decker is obviously his favorite target. If the Penn State defense can't shut down an offense like this, I'll be shocked.
The glaring advantage I see for Penn State is on third down conversions. Penn State is ranked #3 on offense while Minnesota is ranked #112 on defense. In the redzone, Penn State scores touchdowns 65% of the time while Minnesota gives up touchdowns 65% of the time. The NCAA doesn't track this statistic, but I think this is a big advantage for Penn State. It tells me Penn State should be able to put together some long sustained drives and control this game rather easily.