We're into week five now, so I'd say we're at the point where we can start comparing numbers and trying to gleen something off of them. Of course, these numbers are always skewed by the level of competition. That will even out as the season moves on, but for now I think it's safe to say Penn State has probably faced a tougher schedule than Iowa. Penn State's opponents are 10-1 in their other games while Iowa's opponents are 6-6 in theirs. So take that into consideration.
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.
Well now, I'm not used to putting together one of these charts and not seeing it dominated by chipmunk logos.
Looking at the numbers, it's pretty obvious that Iowa has a huge advantage when they are on defense. No surprise there as they return a veteran unit and Penn State is breaking in a freshman at quarterback. Evan Royster's slow start also compounds the problem. Penn State's redzone issues also stand out like a sore thumb on the chart. Punching it in the endzone will be extremely difficult against the Hawkeyes.
The redzone struggles of the offense are well documented. Interestingly, Penn State has yet to stop someone from scoring on defense once they reach the redzone this year. And once teams reach the redzone, they are coming away with touchdowns 83% of the time. Penn State's saving grace here is that opponents have only reached the redzone on them six times all year, which is tied for second lowest in the nation.
The Penn State defense appears to have what it takes to hold their own. So unless Trent Richardson requests a transfer and the NCAA grants him a waiver to play right away between now and Saturday, that could be a matchup Penn State has a chance of winning. Iowa doesn't give the ball up much, and Penn State doesn't have a very impressive takeaway margin, but they have forced six turnovers in the past two games after a slow start.
If the Iowa defense gives Penn State fits as expected, and the Penn State defense can hold the Hawkeyes in check, the game could swing on a special teams play. Penn State has revamped their special teams this year and they are playing very well. Iowa got torched on long kickoff returns against Iowa State and Arizona, so that may be an area the Nittany Lions can exploit to either score or set up the offense with a short field.