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Just the Stats: Penn State vs Houston

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Against Houston, Penn State will need these guys to make Case Keenum's life a living hell. (<a href="">Mike Pettigano/BSD</a>)
Against Houston, Penn State will need these guys to make Case Keenum's life a living hell. (Mike Pettigano/BSD)

Penn St. Nittany Lions (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) vs. Houston Cougars (12-1, 8-1 C-USA)
12 p.m. ET, January 2, 2012
Cotton Bowl (Capacity: 92,100
) / Dallas, TX

Penn State Value (Nat'l Rank) Value (Nat'l Rank) Houston
Rushing Offense (ypg) 165.08 (54)
171.77 (78) Rushing Defense (ypg) Push
Passing Offense (ypg) 180.33 (95)
214.23 (47) Passing Defense (ypg) Houlogo_medium
Pass Efficiency 105.34 (112)
115.02 (24)
Pass Efficiency Defense Houlogo_mediumHoulogo_mediumHoulogo_medium
Total Offense (ypg) 345.42 (94)
386.00 (63)
Total Defense (ypg) Houlogo_medium
Scoring Offense (ppg) 19.75 (110)
23.08 (40)
Scoring Defense (ppg) Houlogo_mediumHoulogo_medium
Rushing Defense (ypg) 138.75 (48)
155.23 (62) Rushing Offense (ypg) Push
Passing Defense (ypg) 162.17 (5)
443.77 (1) Passing Offense (ypg) Push
Pass Efficiency Defense 100.04 (5)
175.35 (3) Pass Efficiency Push
Total Defense (ypg) 300.92 (10)
599.00 (1) Total Offense (ypg) Push
Scoring Defense (ppg) 15.67 (5)
50.77 (1) Scoring Offense (ppg) Push
Net Punting Yds 35.70 (78)
14.14 (9)
Punt Return Yds Houlogo_mediumHoulogo_medium
Punt Return Yds 6.97 (77)
36.42 (61)
Net Punting Yds Push
Kickoff Return Yds 23.35 (32)
21.48 (60)
Kickoff Return Defense Houlogo_medium
Kickoff Return Defense 21.80 (64)
21.89 (56)
Kickoff Return Yds Push
Turnover Margin +0.33 (32)
+1.00 (7)
Turnover Margin Houlogo_medium
Penalty Yds/Game 42.50 (29)
49.54 (58)
Penalty Yds/Game Psulogo_medium
Sacks 2.42 (26)
1.31 (32)
Sacks Allowed Push
Sacks Allowed 1.00 (16)
2.23 (33) Sacks Push
Redzone Offense (%) 0.76 (91)
0.67 (2)
Redzone Defense (%) Houlogo_mediumHoulogo_mediumHoulogo_medium
Redzone Defense (%) 0.94 (118)
0.85 (41) Redzone Offense (%) Houlogo_mediumHoulogo_mediumHoulogo_medium
Redzone TD % 0.49
Redzone TD % Defense Houlogo_medium
Redzone TD % Defense 0.65
Redzone TD % Houlogo_medium
3rd Down Conv. % 36.78 (95)
37.86 (46)
3rd Down Defense % Houlogo_medium
3rd Down Defense % 38.62 (53)
52.15 (5)
3rd Down Conv. % Houlogo_medium
1st Downs Per Game 18.67 (90)
20.38 (64)
1st Downs Allowed PG Houlogo_medium
1st Downs Allowed PG 17.08 (19)
28.31 (2)
1st Downs Per Game Push

Difference <25 in National Rank = Push

Difference >25 in National Rank = Psulogo_medium

Difference >50 in National Rank = Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium

Difference >75 in National Rank = Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium

Difference >100 in National Rank = Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_mediumPsulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium

The "Old" Mike's 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 judgment.

Analysis below the jump...

Wait, what?! On this computer screen, Houston should beat Penn State. The Cougars won the battle of the logos by an astounding 22-1 over the Nittany Lions. This could have easily been mitigated if Penn State could do two things better--quarterbacking and red zone offense. What's really disgusting is that the Penn State offense makes the Houston defense look good on this chart, with the Cougars' D actually getting more logos than Linebacker U. Pretty pathetic.

Then again, as you'll read below, the teams are very difficult to compare. Houston played a schedule composed of 13 teams that Penn State would typically schedule as non-conference walkovers. Yes, teams like Tulsa, East Carolina and Southern Miss aren't cupcakes by any means. But when they show up on Penn State's schedule, they're put there to get the "W" and move on.

Penn State also typically does very well against teams that are super-heavy on one side of the ball. The Houston defense is okay, but can't really stack up against what the Nittany Lions will put out there when Case Keenum gets the ball. Keenum scares the hell out of me, as he should anyone whose team has to defend against his arm. But this is doable. The only game Penn State played this year against a comparable offense would be at Wisconsin. It was a blowout. But considering about 115 of the 120 FBS programs would meet a similar fate against this year's Badgers team, there's little reason to think Penn State won't be able to gameplan accordingly against Keenum & Co.

Opponent comparison... I can't bring myself to actually compare each schedule team-by-team, side-by-side. The difference between the Big Ten schedule--especially Penn State's schedule including Alabama and Temple as non-conference opponents--and Houston's C-USA schedule is so drastic, it's nearly impossible to do it with a straight face. Jeff Sagarin has Penn State's schedule up at No. 34 nationally. Houston? Though the Cougars are ranked higher by Sagarin than the Nittany Lions, UH's strength of schedule is in the triple digits, at No. 107 nationally.

What say you?

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