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Advanced Stats Answers Your Most Burning Question: Villanova

Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports




It's a question we've all had. It has kept us up nights. It has so consumed our energy that it has done damage to our relationships and professional lives.

Is there an afterlife, and if so, what's it like? What are the physical origins of the universe? What is the true answer to the medieval problem of universals? Was Augustine a thinly veiled Gnostic? Who was the Zodiac Killer? How much should I holding in crypto, really? Is a centralized state required for optimal social organization? How could a mind as good as Kant's have such a bad rebuttal to the ontological proof? I'm neither female, fully white, nor particularly basic, so why do I like pumpkin spice lattes so much?

No, none of those.

"What would a game between a FBS and FCS national championship contenders look like where the FBS team zone blocks and the FCS team has a good defense determined to stop the run but the FBS team has some legitimate Heisman candidates at QB and WR and where the last 14 minutes of the 4th quarter is garbage time and the FBS team empties their bench whereas the FCS team doesn't and scores a couple cosmetic TDs?"

If you watched Villanova at Penn State, that's a thing you know now, so your mind can be at ease. Thank goodness. The numbers:

maypp: Penn State--3.21; Villanova--2.07
spr: Penn State--43.1%; Villanova--36.7%
%npp: Penn State 32.3%; Villanova--40.0%
gameplay score: Penn State 34.8 (38.3 before TO) Villanova 13.3 (16.8 before TO)

The defense was once again fantastic. Yes, Villanova is an FCS team, and not viewed as a great (though definitely solidly above average) one on offense, but those numbers are doing exactly what a national championship caliber defense should be doing against such a team. If Villanova were the single worst FBS offense, and they're probably better than that, Penn State put up pretty much exactly the numbers that one would expect of the best defense in the country against such an offense.

And let's be real, the numbers are better than that. Almost 60% of Villanova's successful plays, and 75% of Villanova's plays of at least 20 yards, came against Penn State's depth and beyond when the game was very clearly long past over in the 4th quarter.

The offense was....I'm not even sure what the right word is. I kinda wanna say "lackadaisical," but I'm really unsure that's giving them or Villanova's defense due credit. Villanova has one of the best defenses, if not the single best defense, in FCS. And Penn State put up over 500 yards, and were a missed FG and dropped pass where the WR had a seam to the end zone that ended up as an INT away from being up 48-3 with 14 minutes left in the game. And they still scored 38 against that defense in that amount of time. That's a far cry from bad, or even average. Trying to complain about that seems like trying to complain, which is silly.

But a week after putting up, with the exception of total yards, much better numbers across the board against a top 10 FEI defense in FBS, it certainly was an offensive effort that seemed to lack focus. 3.21 maypp against an FCS defense is not national championship caliber stuff. Nor is 32.3% non-positive plays.

But then, Penn State is a zone blocking team against a very well coached, Division I defense. The run game may not have done much in the counting stats by themselves, but they did set up lots and lots of very big plays passing. That's good wholesome complimentary football and doing what they had to, right?

Rebuttal: 3.21 maypp and over 30% npp against an FCS defense

So, yeah. If you want to panic about the lack of run game, by all means. It coulda shoulda been better. But if you don't, that's fine too. They created very explosive plays in a very prolific offensive effort. I'm sure there will be things that come up in film for the team to work on. But it was a dominating win in a game that was supposed to be, and I'll take it.

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