Monday, December 04, 2006

Florida versus Ohio State - The Cold Facts

Now that the exhilaration, and yes, the shock, of Florida getting the number 2 BCS ranking is starting to wear off, I thought it time for a first statistical analysis and match-up of our BCS National Title game opponent Ohio State.

I decided to go into this analysis clear headed and practical. This is not an exercise to argue that we are better than Ohio State. This is not the time for cherry picking statistics to make us look good to the national media and the poll voters. The beauty contest part is over.

This is a cold eyed analysis of what we face on January 8th.

I have compiled the raw statistics on Ohio State and Florida, split between individual stats and team stats. If any stat was outside of the top 50 in the nation, it is not included.

First, the individual stats (by Name, National Ranking, and Stat)–

Passing Efficiency

Troy Smith (4) – 167.9
Chris Leak (21) – 146. 8

Pretty clear who has the edge here.

Rushing Yards per Game

A. Pittman (22) – 97.6
No UF in top 50

Once again, OSU with the edge.

Receiving Yards per Game

No OSU in top 50
Dallas Baker (43) – 69

I was surprised to see no one on the top 50 list for OSU here.

Now, the team stats (national ranking, stat)

Passing Offense (yards per game)

OSU (33) – 229.7
UF (26) – 237.8

Was surprised, and delighted, UF had the edge here

Rushing Offense (yards per game)

OSU (18) – 180.1
UF (36) – 160.3

The edge is having Pittman in the backfield.

Scoring Offense (points per game)

OSU (7) – 36.3
UF (32) – 28.8

OSU is favored by 7.5 on the opening line. The margin here is EXACTLY 7.5.

Total Offense (yards per game)

OSU (15) – 409.8
UF (21) – 398.1

Only 12 yards less per game – not bad. This stat, when compared to above, is interesting in that it is so close when the margin above is so large. The difference I suspect is our kicking game. We have missed a lot of points in field goals. Had we made those, our point totals might be more reflective of our yardage.

Passing Efficiency Offense (by rating)

OSU (4) – 165.9
UF (11) – 151. 9

With UF 11th in the nation, perhaps Chris Leak has been somewhat unfairly maligned.

Passing Defense (yards per game)

OSU (29) – 179.5
UF not in top 50

From what I can calculate, UF is around 54th. Not a very good sign against Troy Smith.

Rushing Defense (yards per game)

OSU (16) – 93.5
UF (6) – 74.5

The strength of our defense. Even after playing ground oriented Arkansas, UF remained highly ranked.

Scoring Defense (points per game)

OSU (2) – 10.4
UF (6) – 13.5

Neither of these teams allow much scoring. OSU is actually better than I thought. What I think you see here is the difference between the points our offense has surrendered through turnovers.

Total Defense (yards per game)

OSU (13) – 273
UF (10) – 268.8

Both are pretty close on this count too, which would support my theory above.

Passing Efficiency Defense (rating)

OSU (8) – 100.9
UF (6) – 100.3

This stat surprised me, seeing as how we were not in the top 50 in passing D. Maybe we defend the pass better than it seems.

Turn Over Margin

OSU (8) - +11
UF (43) - +3

OSU creates turnovers, and doesn’t give up the ball as often as we do.

Penalties (yards per game – lower rank is better)

OSU – (18) 42.8
UF no where near top 50, at one of the nation’s worst

A definite OSU edge.

In looking at the stats, OSU appears the better team, though perhaps not as much as the early 7.5 advantage Vegas has placed on them. They are similar on defense, but apparently much better on offense.

I decided to see if the offensive numbers of both teams could be explained by the quality of the defenses each team played. So, by total defense ranking (yards surrendered per game), here is each team’s opponents rankings against top 50 defense teams (ranking and team).

Ohio State

6. Michigan
16. Penn State
22. Texas
31. Cincinnati
38. Illinois
44. Bowling Green


2. LSU
9. Georgia
15. Florida State
18. Alabama
25. Auburn
34. Arkansas
40. Southern Miss
46. South Carolina
50. Tennessee

So, while OSU played 3 top 25 defenses, and 6 top 50’s, Florida played 5 top 25’s, and an incredible 9 top 50’s.

How much of Ohio State’s better offensive statistics one can credit to their relatively easier defensive opponents would be very hard to estimate. However, we are averaging only 12 yards less per game, against a roster of far better defenses. I would say this bodes well for Florida.

And, while we are on this subject, maybe some of Gator nation’s complaints about our offense were a bit off base. Of the 13 games we have played, 9 were against top 50 defenses. Is it really surprising we didn’t blow out UGA or FSU, when they are both top 15 defenses? No wonder so many were close. I think this point has been missed by the national media and public at large, and hopefully, by Ohio State.

Lastly, a look at the final strength of schedule rankings for each team by the NCAA and Jeff Sagarin’s computer ratings –


Florida – 1st in nation
Ohio State – 42nd in nation


Florida – 19th in nation
Ohio State – 38th in nation


Florida has played a far harder schedule than Ohio State, against vastly superior defenses. The only defense approaching Florida’s that Ohio State has played was Michigan’s. Against Michigan, however, it must be noted that OSU scored 42 points and had 503 yards of total offense. Michigan, which faced the second hardest schedule according to the NCAA, beat some pretty good teams this year, and averaged 254 yards surrendered defensively this year, so OSU effectively doubled the yards Michigan typically gave up.

On paper, Ohio State is the better team, and they should be favored, but perhaps not by the 7.5 points they are. Our main concerns will come down to the same we have had all years - bad offensive turnovers, poor place kicking, and penalties.

Make no mistake – this will be Florida’s toughest game of the season.

And that is as it should be.


Anonymous said...

Does it make sense to look at individual player statistics? According to the OSU fans posting on Swamp Gas, they have five talented WRs. If their dividing catches evenly between five guys, they might not have anyone in the top 50, even though their overall pass rating is quite good.

FishFan-GatorMan said...

You could make the same argument for Florida with their receiving corps of Dallas Baker, Andre Caldwell, Percy Harvin, et al.

Anonymous said...

Remember Mergz, it's all a myth..

FishFan-GatorMan said...


Everyone harped about how Michigan only lost to OSU by 3 in Columbus. I wonder what this same analysis would show if we looked at the Michigan vs. Ohio State and Florida. I know it's looking backward since the decision has been made and we are playing OSU, but if Michigan was similarly lower (vs. OSU) in the same statistical categories as Florida is then perhaps we could make ourselves feel better about our chances.

FishFan-GatorMan said...


The fact that we are happy that the Gators are getting a chance to participate in the sham that is the BCS national chapionship doesn't change the fact that it's a sham.

I would rather have the Gators win a play-off than have to hear the argument that we somehow backed into a championship.

Besides backed in is what Michigan would have done.

Mergz said...

Hey Anonymous,

I stand by my earlier post. The national championship is a myth. The system is biased, subjective, riddled with politics, and downright stupid. We would all be better if it disappeared.

However, the Gators playing Ohio State in a bowl game is reality. Even if we win, I don't think it truly settles anything, other than the fact we can beat Ohio State.

And that, my friend, is everything.

Mergz said...

"if Michigan was similarly lower (vs. OSU) in the same statistical categories as Florida is then perhaps we could make ourselves feel better about our chances." - Fish.

I can do the analysis a bit later.

However, remember that Michigan played an essentially perfect game against OSU. They had no turnovers. Yet, they could manage only 397 yards (to OSU's 503).

Ohio State had 3 turnovers - to fumbles and 1 interception. The game was not as close as the score indicated.

503 yards with 3 turnovers, to none for Michigan. It is going to be tough.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, well balanced Florida blog. I look forward to reading this in my effort to "scout" the excellent Gators before the BCS title game- a team in my mind are well deserving of a shot against OSU.

Let me add a comment in favor of my Buckeyes. In many games, OSU took a commanding lead early in the game- Minnesota, Northwestern, and Michigan State are a few that come readily to mind. In those games, as per Tressel's plan, he generally stops chucking the ball around the field and relies heavily on the running game. He is not one to run the score up by passing it all over the place. This, combined with the wonderful Midwestern weather, will have some reflection on the OSU statistics.

On a related note, this affinity to run the football when carrying a commanding lead is key to the OSU offense. For example, in the Illinois game, when Chris "Beanie" Wells fumbled and was taken out (Wells was arguably the top recruit in the nation, is considered by many OSU fans to be a better pure runner, is powerful, and had a monster 50 yard run TD again scUM for a TD), the OSU offense suffered as it lacked that "power" dimension that Tressel loves to use.

What is my point? Make no mistake, despite the flashy stats of Troy Smith, Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, and the rest of the Buckeye receivers, Jim Tressel wants to run the football. He may set that run up with the pass because of his talent, but he wants to run the football nonetheless. If Florida cannot stop the OSU run- a running game made more difficult to stop because of the OSU pass game - then Florida has no chance. Remember how scUM was the top-ranked run defense in the country? Well, OSU ran it all over them for a few huge TDs.

Anonymous said...

The question is not whether OSU or UF has the better offense, or defense, but how OSU's offense matches up with UF's defense, and vice versa.

OSU beat ND in last year's Fiesta because the Irish didn't have the speed on defense to keep up with Ginn and Holmes. Michigan's defense killed everyone (else), but Tressel exploited their lack of depth in the secondary.

Stats are a nice start, as they often give clues as to strengths and weaknesses.

The big question I see is this: How will UF handle the spread?

Have you played many competent spread teams? How did it go?

FishFan-GatorMan said...

OSU's offense vs. the Gator defense, that IS the question. You can actually do an analysis by looking at the stats provided.

As far as what OSU did to ND, that has zero relevance considering that OSU isn't playing ND and ND is a fraud.

I can tell you that the Gator front four is among the top in the country, though Marcus Thomas got kicked off the team and they are certainly better with him than without. Our LBs are very good and we have two great DBs (Reggie Nelson, S and Ryan Smith, CB). The other two are OK.

The Gators haven't really played vs. a spread option though they do themselves run a spread hybrid. Hybrid because Chris Leak is more of a pocket passer. But Urban Meyer is a Spread offense expert (it's what he ran at BGSU and Utah) so I'm sure he has some ideas on how to defend it.

Anonymous said...

This is going to be one heck of a game! Speed vs. Speed on both sides. Even though Flordia is not getting any credit, they are a great football squad with a great coach! This will be one to remember. Also, this being first meeting between the two schools we'll find out what each one is made of. Ohio State is one of the most storied programs in College Athletics, and Florida has a great team every year. I don't think we could ask for a better matchup. Michigan had their shot! I was there! Good night and Good luck to all!