Monday, January 07, 2008

Don’t Expect the Expected

Quick question – who ended the season higher statistically in scoring offense and scoring defense even when accounting for the mythical national title – Florida or Ohio State?

As you can probably guess by the question it is a trick, of sorts. The answer is Ohio State in both categories –

Scoring Offense (national rank, ppg) –

14. Ohio State – 34.62
23. Florida – 29.71

Scoring Defense (national rank, ppg) –

5. Ohio State – 12.8
6. Florida – 13.5

These stats are made even more startling when you figure they include the 41-14 Gator stomping. If you take out the MNC game, you have (without ranks) –

Scoring Offense

Ohio State – 36.33
Florida – 28.85

Scoring Defense

Ohio State 10.41
Florida – 13.46

What you seem to see here are two pretty well matched teams with an edge to Ohio State.

For this year’s contenders for the ELGT (Effeminate Little Glass Trophy) we have -

Scoring Offense (national rank, ppg) –

11. LSU – 38.69
38. Ohio State - 32

Scoring Defense (national rank, ppg) –

1. Ohio State – 10.7
16. LSU – 19.6

LSU’s stats are skewed by their two overtime games. Adjusted for overtime, we have

Scoring Offense (national rank, ppg) –

11. LSU – 36.92
38. Ohio State - 32

Scoring Defense (national rank, ppg) –

1. Ohio State – 10.7
16. LSU – 17.23

Unlike Florida last year, LSU has a defined scoring edge against Ohio State while, like Florida, LSU has a worse scoring defense. Ohio State, notably, has almost the identical scoring defense it did in 2006 when it gave up 41 to Florida.

Better offense for LSU than Florida, similar defense plus the suspect nature of the Ohio State numbers against the SEC means LSU blowout, right?

Maybe not.

Because unlike last year’s Ohio State’s stats, I think these ones are “real”.

Ohio State showed its vulnerability in its final regular game to Michigan last year when they gave up 397 yards and 39 points, a precursor to their 41 point, 370 debacle against Florida.

This year Ohio State held Michigan to 91 yards total offense and only 3 points at Ann Arbor. A Michigan team that subsequently gained 524 yards against Florida, scoring 41 points. Or, 133 more yards and 13 more points than LSU could manage against Florida – at LSU.

This Ohio State defense might just be …real.

In my Power Ratings LSU and Ohio State are uncannily close, with LSU number 1 with a 2.236 rating (out of a possible 3), and Ohio State with 2.226 rating. They should be about even on a neutral field.

The final Power Ratings for Florida and Ohio State in 2006 showed a stark difference, with Florida at 2.496 and Ohio State at 2.008. In other words, Florida last year is better than LSU this year while Ohio State is better than Ohio State last year.

Even though the Louisiana Superdome is anything but a “neutral” field, the intangibles have a much more focused Ohio State team this year eager to clear their name. And, don’t get me wrong, I’ll be rooting for LSU as an “SEC” homer, but I see

Ohio State 17 – LSU 16


The Zookeeper said...

Mergz: Insightful analysis, as always. However, the Michigan comparison is not really valid considering the Wolverines played OSU with an one-arm Henne and one-leg Hart.

Ohio State's defense is stout, no doubt, but it hasn't been tested by an offensive juggernaut. Michigan wasn't that. LSU might be.

I expect a close game, too. LSU 27, Ohio State 24.

Henry Gomez said...

LSU has almost hit that target with more than a half of football to play.

jimcaserta said...

I think the model needs to be tweaked, with this year's and last year's predictions. As I see it, both LSU and UF played their best games when it counted, or in another view, they underperformed at a lot of points through the year. You can't make a team better in the month off, but you can get them closer to full potential.

If you expected one team to melt down with penalties, I would have expected lsu, as penalties killed them against UK. For the 2nd year, it seemed osu got outcoached.