Ohio State, as we all know, is 11-0. But there are some interesting statistics that came up in my research on our upcoming rivalry game regarding how OSU got to 11 wins: In 4 of their close games, OSU was outgained by their opponents.
|Total yards (opponent)||Total yards (OSU)||Turnover differential (OSU)|
The Purdue game can be thrown out because of B. Miller's injury. Of the remaining, 2/3 were decided only by a touchdown. Turnover margin for those three games collectively was +3 for OSU.
The most compelling statistic is the one against Wisconsin - a difference of 124 yards. Given that Wisconsin ranks #11 in total defense in the NCAA (against our #12), this is promising. We played a harder pre-conference schedule - Oregon State was the only tough competition for Wisco, against our Alabama + Notre Dame - and, Ohio game removed, Wisco would fall below us in Total Defense rankings.
That said, Wisconsin is very strong at defending the run (#9) and pretty good at defending the pass (#25). We are very average at defending the run (#51)* and excellent at defending the pass (#1). OSU is a team heavy on the run.
OSU is bad at defending the pass (#84) and good at defending the run (#17).* Since the advent of Devin Gardner, 63% of our yardage has been in passing yards. More than 500 of those 800 yards came against opponents ranked higher in pass defense than OSU (Iowa #58, Minnesota #16). Even correcting for strength of schedule would likely not fully resolve the parity between Minnesota and OSU's passing defenses.
Expect our run game to be stuffed but for our pass attack to move willingly down the field (Gardner starting). Expect OSU's rush to move downfield but for their pass attack to be stuffed.
Worry if our players turn the ball over. OSU will capitalize on turnovers. Gardner has thrown one interception per game since he has been the starter. Granted, that is with a remarkable play by Marcus Hyde, but nonetheless. We also had a fumble against Northwestern.
It is certain that we can outgain OSU and still lose the game. This is an important thing. At full strength, OSU has bested 3 opponents who have outgained them - 2/3 by 100 yards or more. That's unheard of by my ears. We cannot turn the ball over.
What does this tell us? OSU has come off with some miraculous wins. A +3 turnover margin still isn't that major. Being outgained by 280 yards in 3 of their wins makes those wins look remarkable and unbelievable. OSU has a stellar red zone defense. Otherwise, we learn little. Scheme is a better predictor than statistics like these, but I'm not a schematic minded fellow. Take this all with a grain of salt. Mostly, this is just interesting fluff that hopefully will help guide you in where you look today and tomorrow.
Who will win the game? I have a good feeling. I think we are clearly the better team this year. But this game is bigger than statistics. We haven't won in the Toilet Bowl in 12 years.
*It is worth noting that we have played rushing offense teams ranked #2, #16, #8, #27, and #33. OSU has played #8 and #17 in the same range. We face the #9 rushing team this weekend. Against #8 Nebraska, we allowed 160 rushing yards - significantly below their season average. #16 Northwestern put 248 up - slightly above their average. #2 Air Force hung 290 - slightly below their average. Alabama put up slightly above their average, and Notre Dame put up less than half their average. Wisconsin has only played #8 and #9 in rushing offense in the same range, holding OSU significantly below their average and Nebraska around their average.