maypp: Penn State -- 4.45; Ball State -- 2.68
spr: Penn State -- 53.8%; Ball State -- 40.6%
%npp: Penn State -- 21.8%; Ball State -- 34.7%
Gameplay Score: Penn State 39.9 Ball State 9.7
What a difference a week makes for the offense. A week after a horribad first half and YOLOball second half against Wisconsin, Penn State's offense had themselves a day. It was consistent. It was prolific. It was efficient. It wasn't sloppy.
"Yeah but it's just Ball State." -- Someone, probably.
Ball State returned everyone from what was the #56 defensive F+ and #23 defensive FEI last year. Even at just low-end expectations, Ball State should be a solidly-above-average-if-nothing-else defense this year. The best offense in the country, against an average defense on an average day for both, would be expected to put up about 4.00 maypp, 45% spr, 25% npp.
Read: Penn State put up noticeably better numbers across the board than what would be expected of the best offense in the country against an average defense. And Ball State's defense is almost certainly better than that.
Most impressive, IMO, is what a team effort it was. If you just looked at the box score and the raw counting stats, you wouldn't come away overly impressed with any individual Penn State stat line. Clifford, Lee, Cain, Dotson...they were certainly fine, to be sure, but their numbers aren't close to eye-popping. But as a team, on the whole, they had an elite day. And last I checked, it's a team sport.
And it's not even clear that the Penn State offense was the best unit on the field for the Nittany Lions, because the defense was also great.
Holding anyone under 2.7 maypp is good. 2.70 maypp is what would be expected of an average offense on an average day against the best defense in the country. Holding what was the #28 offensive F+ and #15 offensive FEI from 2020 to under 2.7 maypp and a gameplay score under 10? That's national championship caliber defense.
Ball State did have a not-horrible, if nothing else, successful play rate and percent non positive plays, but that's deceiving. In Ball State's last 9 plays, overwhelmingly against PSU's depth and deeper with the game long-over, they had one non-positive play and 7 successful plays that really skew the numbers for the game. Ignoring those, Ball State had a spr of 35% and a %npp of 38.3%. Those are great numbers for the defensive by themselves, but in tandem, any time you've got non-positive plays > successful plays, it's a big win for the defense.
It was a great day from both sides of the ball and as the gameplay score shows, no mirage.