Shorter games = worse stats

FootballWell, now that we’ve completed the first full weekend of shorter college football games, what do you think? Successful idea, or frustrating bust?

As I wrote before, I’m no fan of the new time clock rules. But what I realized this weekend was that the shorter games could have a significant impact on total team stats, and those of key players, too.

For a case in point, consider these words from Jim Tressel, during his post-game news conference:

“Antonio had 19 carries and Chris 10 and Mo 5. I’ll be interested to see if the game was shorter like some people were saying. I don’t know how many total plays, let’s see. Total plays, 63 and 63. 126 plays. The average game in the NCAA last year was 141 plays. So it was a shorter game, so we didn’t have quite as many carries maybe as we would have liked.”

Using that 141-play per game benchmark, we can extrapolate the following:

On Saturday, OSU ran 61 offensive plays (not counting FGs), 34 of which were rushing (56%), and 27 were passing (44%).

The three backs rushed for 176 yards (5.17 YPC).
The two QBs went 20 of 27 for 315 yards (11.67 YPA).

Extrapolating those numbers, had the same game been played last year, OSU would have run 71 plays, 40 of which would have been rushing attempts. At the same YPC, that’s a potential 205 yards rushing – a difference of 29.

Continuing the speculation, a 71-play game would have meant 31 pass attempts. At the same YPA, that’s a potential 362 yards passing – a difference of 47 yards.

In short, had the OSU/NIU game happened last season, OSU could have had 567 yards of offense, instead of the recorded 491. In other words, a total yardage difference of 13%. That’s significant — to me, anyway.

Breaking it across a twelve game season, that’s potentially an additional 348 yards of rushing offense, and 564 yards of passing offense – almost a thousand yards difference across a season!

Of course, a typical season isn’t full of twelve NIU games, so take those numbers with a grain of salt. But the average is still there – 13% fewer total yards for the game. It’ll be interesting to see if that stays consistent.

And what about comparing the stats of players before and after the new time rules? Isn’t having a 1000-yard rusher even more impressive now, than say it was last year – because the backs have got fewer carries to work with? How about a 3500-yard QB? And what about the other game stats that I haven’t addressed – interceptions, fumbles/fumble recoveries, FGs made, and most importantly – overall scoring? Time will tell.

A final interesting thought: Jim Tressel’s goal for his offenses has always been 200 yards rushing and 250 yards passing per game. For the NIU game, he was disappointed that that the offense didn’t make that 200-yard rushing goal. However, if the game had happened last year, his goal would have been met. So, it’s interesting that his game plan worked, but apparently he didn’t take the new time rules into account. Hopefully, he’ll account for them this week when preparing the game plan against the ‘Horns.

Update: Every Day Should Be Saturday also looks at the results of the new time change and quotes Urban Meyer as saying the Gators will have 4 fewer possesions a game. That’s a big deal and sounds even worse than our analysis.


  1. But having a 12th game in the schedule will help bring the stats back up.

  2. scraper –

    Yeah – I thought about that. I wonder if it will have as much of an impact as some think, though… most schools have averaged 12 games per season for the past five years anyway. OSU played 13 regular season games in 2002.

    Plus, there’s about 35 bowl games now, so a lot more players have been extending stats into the postseason, also.

    I’ll bet if you ask any NCAA player, “would you rather have 15 more plays per game, or one extra game each season,” they’d prefer the longer games.

    Maybe after the sample gets larger, we’ll be able to make more definitive statements. After a month or two of college football, trends should become a bit more clear.


  1. […] CSTV’s Crystal Ball featured one of our recent posts that discussed the issue of fewer stats due to the new time rules. […]

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