The Search For Balance In Big Ten Passing And Rushing Yards: 2000-Present

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on March 21st, 2013 at 11:49 AM

THE SEARCH FOR BALANCE IN THE BIG TEN: 2000-PRESENT

Now and again, the discussion arises about having a balanced attack on offensive, not relying too much on any one portion of the game. It dawned on me to attempt to look at how much various teams in the Big Ten have tried to balance their rushing and passing games in the recent past. Fortunately, I had most of this data, but I had never really thought about using it to answer this question before.

The first pass at this was fairly simple – for all 11 teams that have been in the Big Ten for the entire period from 2000 to now, I lined up their total passing and net rushing yards, added them, and then got some general “Percent Of Total” numbers. I was actually a little surprised by the result.

 

MORE PASSING

106

MORE RUSHING

37

Within 10%

41

PASSING LEAN

22

RUSHING LEAN

19

 

The first two rows in this table were the straight “Which is greater?” comparison,  so all those teams represented through time, nearly 75% of them achieved greater passing yardage than rushing yardage in a given year.  I had thought the slant was towards passing generally, but I actually didn’t think that the lean over time was this great.

The third row, however, contains some interesting data too. In all these teams across the studied time period, 41 of them had rushing and passing yardage within 10% of each other, which I would consider reasonably balanced. Of those, 22 of them leaned slightly to passing, and 19 of them leaning slightly to rushing. It is also worth noting that 15 of those teams actually belong to Ohio State and Wisconsin (7 and 8 respectively), although this might not surprise some.  We chime in with 7 such seasons of our own, so basically half of these “balanced” teams have in fact been three teams in this period. The next highest total belongs to Penn State, who has seen this occur 5 times in this timeframe.

 

Illinois

8.40%

Indiana

17.57%

Iowa

20.45%

Michigan

9.06%

Michigan State

21.55%

Minnesota

7.20%

Northwestern

14.98%

Ohio State

0.43%

Penn State

13.32%

Purdue

24.60%

Wisconsin

0.07%

 

Here is the average margin between passing and rushing yards for each team in this period.  As they are all positive, and I subtracted rushing from passing initially, the typical margin was in favor of passing.

Next, I looked at touchdowns by type, and here is where I was looking at something I had suspected based on memory but had never seen in numbers:

 

MORE PASSING TDs

60

MORE RUSHING TDs

79

EQUAL NUMBER

4

 

Among these same teams over time, in more than half the cases, a team scored more rushing touchdowns despite accumulating more passing yards. So, here is where I think we get some confirmation in the numbers of how the teams in the conference generally use the rushing game, I would think. Passing to set up the run is alive and well.

What I have done with this data is make tables for each team, showing the total yards and total touchdowns as well as percent of total columns. The greater number is highlighted, so you can see the different combinations as well. Further, there are charts which show you the relative balance / imbalance of passing and rushing for each team across this period. I have also provided the table which breaks it down into average yards per game. These numbers are reflective of the percentages, so when looking at the bar charts, you are looking at this data as well.

ILLINOIS –

 photo IllinoisPRPctTable_zpse20ba22a.jpg  photo IllinoisBalance_zps6fe35b1f.jpg

 

INDIANA-

 photo IndianaPRPctTable_zps5617c126.jpg  photo IndianaBalance_zps839bea18.jpg

 

IOWA –

 photo IowaPRPctTable_zps707c97b4.jpg  photo IowaBalance_zps15c19289.jpg

 

MICHIGAN –

 photo MichiganPRPctTable_zps6c185148.jpg  photo MichiganBalance_zps65dbdb68.jpg

 

MICHIGAN STATE –

 photo MichiganStatePRPctTable_zpsd7545b76.jpg  photo MichiganStateBalance_zpsdc560d9d.jpg

 

MINNESOTA –

 photo MinnesotaPRPctTable_zpsae13267e.jpg  photo MinnesotaBalance_zps36745662.jpg

 

NORTHWESTERN –

 photo NorthwesternPRPctTable_zpsc23b0b0e.jpg  photo NorthwesternBalance_zps50c88018.jpg

 

OHIO STATE –

 photo OhioStatePRPctTable_zps376b110d.jpg  photo OhioStateBalance_zpsb55f0cbc.jpg

 

PENN STATE –

 photo PennStatePRPctTable_zps90d1fba4.jpg  photo PennStateBalance_zps837e7a60.jpg

 

PURDUE –

 photo PurduePRPctTable_zps612f297b.jpg  photo PurdueBalance_zpsdeb05272.jpg

 

WISCONSIN –

 photo WisconsinPRPctTable_zpsd7d7884c.jpg  photo WisconsinBalance_zpse0688655.jpg

 

YARDS PER GAME INFORMATION:

 photo YPGTablePR_zps5858d4af.jpg

TL;DR CONCLUSION:

Like other diaries I typically do, there is no set conclusion here. I set out to get the numbers behind a question I had. In this case, it was regarding how typically balanced between passing and rushing yardage a Big Ten offense has been in the recent past. The answer seems to be, “It depends on whose offense and when”.

 

BECAUSE I FORGOT IT LAST WEEK:

Comments

freernnur5

March 21st, 2013 at 1:32 PM ^

This was an interesting read and good stuff. My only thought is that total yardage might not be the best case to use when looking at balance and play call type might be better if that information is available (is that information easily available?).

 

I say this because a team can say run the ball few times but big breakaways could make it look like they got a ton of rushing yardage and were balanced when most of the game they ended up passing the ball.

 

Just a thought. Still was very cool to peruse the stats.