Under the Hood: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Missouri Tigers

It's the Big One! Nebraska versus Mizzou for the Big 12 North this weekend! At least that's what we were universally told at the beginning of the season, that the only two true contenders for the North crown were Missouri and Nebraska. So much for pre-season precognaterations.
Nebraska's reputation has suffered since being mauled by USC, then barely beating Ball State a couple weeks ago. It didn't help matters that Iowa State hung around longer than anyone expected, outgaining the Husker offense in the process. The Huskers have a lot to prove going into Columbia while the Tigers need to show that they're capable of beating someone with a pulse. It's setting up to be a pretty good game.

Here's the Tigers 2007 schedule to date:

Illinois - W - 40-34
Mississippi W - 38 - 25
Western Michigan W - 52 -24
Illinois State W - 38-17

Average margin of victory their four wins: 17 points
Sagarin's ratings for the two teams:
- Mizzou is at 18th, with a schedule ranking of 95th.
- Nebraska is at 26th, with a schedule ranking of 33rd.

The Sagarin ratings for Missouri's opponents are at 40, 85, and 94 (Illinois State is Div IAA, so no Sagarin rating for them), so the Tigers truly have feasted on below average teams, including Illinois (see more below). Nebraska's opponents are 90, 49, 2, and 104, so other than USC, we haven't played great teams either.

Below are the offensive statistics to date for both teams:

Missouri By The Numbers: Offense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD QB Rating Total Offense Scoring Offense
200 (26) 5.67 (7) 6 (75) 344.25 (6) 7.3 (41) 13 (15) 143.91 (25) 544.25 (5) 42 (12)
Nebraska By The Numbers: Offense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD QB Rating Total Offense Scoring Offense
160.6 (50) 4.06 (58) 12 (20) 307.2 (15) 8.2 (16) 10 (28) 144.94 (22) 467.80 (18) 35.8 (25)

Both teams are strong on the offensive side, but we already knew that, didn't we? I was surprised that Missouri's rushing offense was 26th with 200 yards a game. Perhaps part of that is the fact that Missouri hasn't scored many TD's on the ground.
Missouri's rushing yards per carry should worry you. Nebraska hasn't defended the run well, let alone an offense that has as many weapons as the Tigers.


Missouri By The Numbers: Defense
Rush YPG Rush YPA Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD Total Defense Scoring Defense
158.75 (71) 4.21 (69) 6 (55) 275.55 (104) 6.9 (74) 6 (57) 434.50 (93) 25 (58)
Nebraska By The Numbers: Defense
Rush YPG Rush YPA Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD Total Defense Scoring Defense
189.6 (92) 4.69 (94) 11 (109) 219 (58) 6.3 (45) 5 (35) 408.6 (58) 26.6 (77)

As we knew, neither team is strong on defense, although Missouri's pass defense is awful. Good news because it plays right into Nebraska's strength in it's receiving corps.


Moving on to a simple comparison of opponents, we find.....

Nebraska-Missouri Opponents' Positional Ranks
Total Offense Rank Nebraska Opponent Total Defense Rank -- Total Offense Rank Missouri Opponent Total Defense Rank
32 Nevada 89 -- 48 Illinois 42
89 Wake Forest 50 -- 73 Mississippi 108
21 USC 15 -- 64 Western Michigan 96
14 Ball State 65 -- xx Illinois State - Div IAA xx
78 Iowa State 36 -- xx xxxx xx
46.8 Average 51 -- 62 Average 82

- Nebraska has played against better overall defensive teams, yet nearly match Missouri's offensive production despite the Tigers playing some atrocious defenses.
- Nebraska's opponents have been much better on offense, too. Missouri has yet to face a decent offense, yet their defense is pretty bad. I wonder if they'd have beaten Ball State?
- It's no wonder that Missouri is off to a 'hot start' given the level of competition. It'll be interesting when we compare Kansas's opponents in the next few weeks, eh?
- - Anything I've missed?

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