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Are Penn State's Opponents Hungover?


This past Saturday, much to the Penn State fanbase's pleasure, Iowa got exposed for the frauds that we all knew they were. Watching the game, the Hawkeyes just looked kind of meh all around, lacking that "juice" even in the friendly confines of Kinnick stadium with the common clay of new west supporting them.

So I thought to myself - was Iowa just completely tired out from playing way over their heads against a more-talented, Dwight Galt trained, Penn State team? Over the years I've been interested in the phenomenon that teams generally struggle the week after playing Ohio State. Penn State experienced this the hard way with losses to MSU the week after playing OSU in both 2017 and 2018.

So let's take a look at how each team Penn State played this season fared the week following their matchup with the Nittany Lions - to determine if the hangover effect is real for Penn State's opponents:

Wisconsin (3-3)

Next Opponent: W 34-7 vs. Eastern Michigan (4-3)

Wisconsin dusted themselves off after week one and cruised to a win against EMU, leading 27-0 at half. This is probably by far Wisconsin's best performance of the season racking up 518 yards of offense, averaging 8.3 ypp in the air, and 6.4 ypp on the ground.

No Hangover here folks!

Ball State (4-3)

Next Opponent: L 45-12 @Wyoming (4-2)

The week after getting rocked by Penn State, the Ball State Cardinal traveled out west and got beat down by the Cowboys, losing to the tune of 31-0 at half. Total yards, yards per play, etc. were all significantly well below their season averages. If that wasn't enough, Ball State would go on to lose the following week after that to a 3-4 Toledo team at home as well.

Since then Ball State has rebounded with three straight wins against Army, @EMU, and against what I can only assume is one of the best team's in the country for beating the mighty Pitt Panthers: @WMU

Calling this one a two-week Hangover.

#19 Auburn (5-2)

Next Opponent: W 34-24 vs. Georgia State (2-4)

This is an interesting one to me, folks. Obviously a 10 point win against Georgia State is not impressive.

On the year Auburn is averaging 448 yards of offensive per game (5.7 ypp rushing, 7.2 ypp passing). Against a Georgia State team that gave up 43 to Army, 59 to UNC, and 45 to App State? They recorded statistics below those season averages with 419 yards on offense (4.7 ypp rushing, 5.9 ypp passing).

One caveat impacting total yardage and points for Auburn here is that Georgia State held the ball for 40 minutes in this one. Auburn's defense that allows 3.2 yards per rush on the season may have been a little gassed, allowing 5.7 yards per rush on 47 carries in this one (1.1 yards more per rush than Georgia State's season average). When you consider how other team's handled this team, and how Auburn handled other cupcakes AND good teams this season - this appears to be a big Hangover.

Villanova (5-1)

Next Opponent: BYE, then W 28-27 @JMU (5-1)

Villanova got the chance to rest up the week after visiting Beaver Stadium, then proceeded to get a big win against James Madison. Inconclusive on this one due to the BYE. Go Wildcats.

Indiana (2-4)

Next Opponent: BYE, then L 20-15 vs. Michigan State (7-0)

Like the Wildcats, the Hoosiers also got to rest up after playing Penn State. I suppose losing your starting quarterback unfortunately makes any determination of a hangover difficult to do. And they had the bye, so Inconclusive.

Side Note: Indiana really gave this one away to Sparty, huh? It makes me feel better about PSU playing for the LGT later this year.

#11 Iowa (6-1)

Next Opponent: L 24-7 vs. Purdue (4-2)

Boiler up, baby!

This putrid Iowa offense is averaging just 310 yards per game on offense (3.1 ypp rushing, 6.5 ypp passing), and performed below those averages (271 yards, 2.5 ypp rushing, 6.1 ypp passing) while turning the ball over four times against the mighty Boilermakers of West Lafayette.

More notably - the vaunted Iowa defense surrendered 464 yards of total offense, including 378 through the air at 8.8 yards per attempt. On the season, Iowa's defense was allowing just 301 yards per game, and their secondary just 211 yards per game on 5.8 yards per attempt.

Very, very enjoyable and well-deserved, Hangover.

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In sum, per my amateur analysis: (3) clear hangovers, (2) teams that got to rest up on a bye, and (1) team in Wisconsin that was unaffected by a hangover (seems on brand tbh)

So - is the hangover effect real?

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