Data against common opponents – 2008 PSU

OSU FootballThis Saturday, the Buckeyes will have their first game against a team with whom they share one or more common opponents.

Like last year, these weekly tables attempt to compare apples to apples between the good and the bad guys. As the season progresses, the tables get longer and become more reflective of reality. Take the first week or two with a grain of salt – the sample sizes are smaller, and therefore it’s harder to draw meaningful conclusions and/or discern any major chronological trends. This week the issue is compounded a bit by the OSU numbers not reflecting a healthy Beanie Wells – who played at 75% with an injured foot against Wisconsin and with the flu against Purdue. Still, the numbers are useful, especially the defensive ones.

The tables list the opponent(s) in chronological order down the first column, and include the following ‘important’ stats: total points (Pts), total yards (Yds), total first downs (Dwns), and turnovers (TOs); for each team and its opponent (Opp).

Table 1: Penn State

  Pts Pts (opp) Yds Yds (opp) Frst Dwns Dwns (opp) TOs TOs (opp)
Purdue 20 6 422 241 24 16 0 1
Wisconsin 48 7 377 313 22 14 1 4
TOTAL 68 13 799 554 46 30 1 5
AVERAGE 34 6.5 399.5 277 23 15 0.5 2.5


Table 2: Ohio State

  Pts Pts (opp) Yds Yds (opp) Frst Dwns Dwns (opp) TOs TOs (opp)
Wisconsin 20 17 327 326 17 19 2 2
Purdue 16 3 222 298 14 18 0 2
TOTAL 36 20 549 624 31 37 2 4
AVERAGE 18 10 274.5 312 15.5 18.5 1 2


The values in Table 3 indicate a team’s overall performance, percentage-wise, against the average numbers the common opponents typically allow.

For example, in the table below, PSU scored an average of 31% more points on these common opponents than what those opponents typically allow, while the Lions’ defense held these opponents to 72% fewer points than what they were typically used to, and so on.

Table 3: Performance against what Common Opponents Typically Allow

  % Scoring % Scoring Defense % Yards % Yards Allowed
PSU +31 -72 +9 -27
OSU -31 -57 -25 -28%



Now, before you Buckeye fans get too depressed about these numbers, it’s worth noting a few things. The defenses are pretty much even, which is good news. Yes, 72% is better than 57%, but the difference is negligible when there is only a four point separation between the two teams. This is reflected in the Yards Allowed column in Table 3.

Offensive production is where the numbers are most disparate. I’m sure Buckeye fans will point out that (1) Beanie’s big toe/flu problem against Purdue, (2) a night game at Camp Randall before Wisco mailed in the rest of its season, and (3) Pryor’s first road start of his career. IMO, excuses. I wouldn’t put much stock in such excuses if they came out of the UM side of the world, so I won’t espouse them here.

I will say, however, that optimism/pessimism aside, none of these charts show intangibles, like injuries, weather, etc. No question that OSU owns the associated intangibles: night game, at the ‘Shoe, in what looks like power-rushing game favoring weather, against an opponent that Tressel & co. have had good historical success against (one that hasn’t played against even a mediocre defense all season long), and with Beanie Wells who just might be above 80% for the first time this season.

But still, the numbers themselves aren’t encouraging. Argue among yourselves.


  1. Just a couple things I heard on the radio, re: “The Intangibles”:

    · Penn State is 0-7 in the ‘Shoe since they entered the Big Ten (and totally screwed up our name)
    · Penn State has scored 5 offensive touchdowns in those seven games.
    · Ohio State has scored 8 touchdowns on defense and special teams in those same seven games.
    · Joe Paterno crapped his pants last time he was in the ‘Shoe. Just throwing that out there.

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