Difference <25 in National Rank = Push
Difference >25 in National Rank =
Difference >50 in National Rank =
Difference >75 in National Rank =
Difference >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.
It's not hard to look at that chart and see which team is 10-1 and which team is 7-4 right now.
The Spartans are not spectacular at anything, but they are very good at everything. They are just an all around solid football team. Though I don't think they are as good as their record suggests. They had to go into overtime to beat a Notre Dame team that will probably finish 6-6 this year. The rest of their out of conference schedule is a joke. Purdue had them dead to rights last week until they coughed up that game. Iowa put a bigger beating on them than they did to us. They lucked out in not having to play Ohio State, though they did beat Wisconsin in impressive fashion. They have looked impressive when playing in East Lansing, but they look very vulnerable when they go on the road. Luckily this game is in Happy Valley.
Of course looking at the chart alone Penn State doesn't look like a very good team, but like I said last week, Penn State's numbers are weighted down by the horrible start until the offense found its legs. They have been playing much improved of late, and I suspect if we could compare Penn State's offensive totals from the past few weeks we would find they are a fringe top 25 team on offense.
I'm not worried about the offense in this game. I think Penn State will have success. One thing Penn State has been really good at doing this year is moving the chains on third down. The Lions have some ridiculously long touchdown drives of 80 and even 90 yards. This is evident in the superb third down conversion rate. What scares me is the defense. Penn State has not been good at stopping the running game. A lot of this has to do with the injuries they have suffered. If Michael Mauti plays this week I'll feel a lot better. But if we see Bani Gbadyu and Chris Colasanti running around for 80% of the game I'll be very worried. Michigan State will try to establish the running game, and I can see Penn State get tired out. Edwin Baker could have a huge game. I think a key for Penn State will be to light up the scoreboard early and keep the pressure on so Michigan State has to abandon the running game.
One thing I see that I like is that Michigan State generates a lot of penalties. This could be the defense's best friend in helping them get off the field. The Spartans are also not very good on third downs. So it will be key for Penn State to force them into third down situations and hope they shoot themselves in the foot.