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Just the Stats: Rose Bowl

Penn State takes on USC in the Grandaddy of them all - what do the numbers tell us about this matchup?

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi - Penn State v USC Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images

The #5 Nittany Lions are the underdogs against the #9 Trojans, despite the championship and overall record.

#5 Penn State (11-2, 9-1 Big Ten East; Big Ten Champion) vs #9 Southern Cal (9-3, 7-2 Pac 12 South; Division Runner-Up)

5:00 p.m. ET, January 2, 2017--ESPN

Rose Bowl Stadium (Capacity: 92,542 / Pasadena, CA)

Penn State Value (Nat'l Rank) Value (Nat'l Rank) USC Advantage
Rushing Offense (ypg) 168.8(75) 133.7 (29) Rushing Defense (ypg) USC logo
Passing Offense (ypg) 261.2 (39) 225.3 (65) Passing Defense (ypg) new PSU logo
Pass Efficiency 156.29 (14) 122.72 (38) Pass Efficiency Defense Push
Total Offense (ypg) 430.1 (54) 359.0 (30) Total Defense (ypg) Push
Scoring Offense (ppg) 36.7 (22) 22.2 (25) Scoring Defense (ppg) Push
Rushing Defense (ypg) 153.5 (49) 207.3 (37) Rushing Offense (ypg) Push
Passing Defense (ypg) 198.5 (25) 261.7 (38) Passing Offense (ypg) Push
Pass Efficiency Defense 119.77 (30) 148.45 (28) Pass Efficiency Push
Total Defense (ypg) 352.0 (22) 468.9 (27) Total Offense (ypg) Push
Scoring Defense (ppg) 23.4 (34) 32.9 (41) Scoring Offense (ppg) Push
Punt Return Defense (ypr) 7.06 (55) 16.46 (6) Punt Return Yds USC logo
Punt Return Yds 6.07 (95) 4.57 (22) Punt Return Defense (ypr) USC logoUSC logo
Net Punting Yds 37.37 (68) 36.26 (89) Net Punting Yds Push
Kickoff Return Yds 19.41 (91) 18.85 (31) Kickoff Return Defense USC logoUSC logo
Kickoff Return Defense 18.8 (30) 23.97 (17) Kickoff Return Yds Push
Turnover Margin +.23 (47) -.17 (T-79) Turnover Margin new PSU logo
Penalty Yds/Game 42.85 (19) 65.67 (111) Penalty Yds/Game new PSU logonew PSU logonew PSU logo
Sacks 3.0/gm (T-14) .92/gm (T-6) Sacks Allowed Push
Sacks Allowed 1.77/gm (48)
2.08/gm (T-61)
Sacks Push
Redzone Offense (%) 85.9% (T-50)
90.0% (T-39)
Redzone Defense (%) Push
Redzone Defense (%) 88.4% (96)
80.8% (92) Redzone Offense (%) Push
Redzone TD % 53.13% 62.86%
Redzone TD % Defense Push
Redzone TD % Defense 58.14% 61.54%
Redzone TD % Push
3rd Down Conv. % 32.1% (121)
35.2% (26)
3rd Down Defense % USC logoUSC logoUSC logo
3rd Down Defense % 37.3% (39)
47.2% (15) 3rd Down Conv. % Push
4th Down Conv. % 50.0% (T-60) 60.0% (T-95) 4th Down Defense % new PSU logo
4th Down Defense % 38.1% (23)
50.0% (T-60) 4th Down Conv. % new PSU logo
1st Downs 262 (T-61) 226 (23) 1st Downs Allowed USC logo
1st Downs Allowed 241 (39) 289 (35) 1st Downs Push
Time of Possession 27:49 (99)
31:47 (30) Time of Possession USC logoUSC logo
Strength of Schedule 5 1 Strength of Schedule Push


Difference >25 in National Rank = new PSU logo

Difference >50 in National Rank = new PSU logonew PSU logo

Difference >75 in National Rank = new PSU logonew PSU logonew PSU logo

Difference >100 in National Rank = new PSU logonew PSU logonew PSU logonew PSU logo

Note: All of the above rankings are taken directly from the NCAA except for strength of schedule, which is not ranked by the NCAA and instead taken from S&P (Football Outsiders).

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.

Quick thoughts:

Once again, I expected there to be more red - especially with how the media narrative is that Penn State will get destroyed (sound familiar?).

My thoughts on the actual numbers, though? That the categories that USC seems to have a strong advantage in (3rd down conversions, time of possession, first downs while the Nittany Lions are on offense) have more to do with the style of offense that Joe Moorhead runs than any deficiency in PSU's game. For example, every team they've played has had a TOP advantage - some significantly (like Wisconsin, who was first in the nation in time of possession prior to the Big Ten Championship). But that conventional wisdom simply doesn't work with this offense.

And I'd expect the passing stats to be even more of a tick in Penn State's favor - giving Moorhead a month to gameplan means new and exciting play installations, and likely the pass opening up the run of Saquon Barkley.

What do you all think?