Under the Hood: Nebraska - Iowa State

Under the Hood - Iowa State Cyclones
Entering Big 12 play, both teams have struggled but the outcomes are flipped, with the Cornhuskers at 3-1 and the Cyclones at 1-3. Most Big 12 denizens are familiar with what happened last year at Iowa State, but let's refresh. Dan McCarney's team didn't fair well, going 3-9. Instead of firing his staff which is what new ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard wanted, McCarney choose to be fired hisself. In his place ISU hired some guy who coached at Texas, running their defense as coordinator when they won the National Title in 2005.
The Cyclones are sucking under Gene Chizik, much like Dan Hawkin's first year sucked at Colorado, and much like the Huskers sucked under Bill Callahan in his first year. Chizik changed Iowa State's offensive scheme to the spread with offensive coordinator Robert McFarland in charge. The defensive scheme has moved to the Tampa 2 defense, assisting in the underlying theme that everything in college football is moving closer to the NFL. (Gag)

Here's the Cyclones' 2007 schedule to date:

Kent State L - 14-23
Northern Iowa L - 13-24
Iowa W - 15-13
@Toledo L - 35-36

Average margin of victory in their win (sad, isn't it?) - 2 points.
Average margin of victory in losses....5.25
Sagarin's ratings for the two teams?
- Iowa State is at 95, with a schedule ranking of 81st.
- Nebraska is at 17, with a schedule ranking of 16th.

I switched the format around so that we're pairing offense against defense, which should make more sense. Before you look down at the stats, just remember that the love I give you is a tough love. It ain't easy looking at where the Huskers are defensively. You'll thank me later. Below are the statistics to date for both teams as they enter Big 12 conference play:

Nebraska By The Numbers: Offense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD QB Rating Total Offense Scoring Offense
168.25 (47) 4.01 (65) 16 (11) 324.3 (13) 7.1 (45) 7 (38) 141.81 (30) 492.5 (14) 36.0 (27)
Iowa State By The Numbers: Defense
Rush YPG Rush YPA Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD Total Defense Scoring Defense
140.5 (54) 3.6 (48) 6 (69) 164.5 (18) 6.3 (47) 4 (31) 305 (22) 24 (56)

The teams look evenly matched by sheer numbers except that the numbers are skewed on rushing TD's and rushing TD's allowed. Iowa State, statistically matches up very well.


Iowa State By The Numbers: Offense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD QB Rating Total Offense Scoring Offense
144 (65) 3.47 (87) 5 (74) 206.5 (77) 8.2 (19) 4 (89) 120.75 (69) 350.5 (83) 19.3 (103)
Nebraska By The Numbers: Defense
Rush YPG Rush YPA Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD Total Defense Scoring Defense
203.5 (99) 5.39 (114) 9 (109) 203.5 (45) 6.6 (59) 5 (50) 407 (75) 29.0 (74)

Iowa State cannot score. Or run the ball efficiently. Or throw efficiently. But statistically, they beat the Husker defense by a wide margin in nearly every category except where it counts - scoring. If all you had to look at without knowing the opponents' names, would you pick Iowa State to win this game? Maybe.


But things get more revealing when we stack up Nebraska's and Iowa State's opponents:

Nebraska-Iowa State Opponents' Positional Ranks
Total Offense Rank Nebraska Opponent Total Defense Rank -- Total Offense Rank Ball State Opponent Total Defense Rank
41 Nevada 84 -- 51 Kent State 24
86 Wake Forest 51 -- ## Northern Iowa -Div IAA ##
23 USC 25 -- 101 Iowa 6
18 Ball State 86 -- 85 Toledo 106
42 Average 61.5 -- 79 Average 65.3


- Unfortunately, Nebraska's defense is making people look good - Ball State jumped from 31st offensively to 18th this week. Ouch!
- Is it fair to say that Nebraska has played two very good offenses when we're responsible for Ball State being in the Top 25 offensively?
- Ball State's defensive ranking fell from 74th to 86th this week.
- Iowa State has yet to play an offensive powerhouse, which explains why their defensive rankings are relatively high compared to where they are as a team. Nebraska's offense should have a heyday with the Iowa State defense. - Nebraska's defense may give up yardage, but if Iowa State sticks to their ways they'll have trouble putting the ball in the end zone.

Your observations????

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