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2006 Cotton Bowl Under the Hood

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Under the Hood - Auburn Tigers Auburn's record coming into the Cotton Bowl is 10-2. They gave Florida their only loss of the season. They finished second to Arkansas in the SEC West.

We're going to line up some statistical numbers by Nebraska and Auburn and see how they compare.

Here's the Tigers 2006 schedule:

Washington State W 40-14
@Mississipi State W 34-0
LSU W 7-3
vs Buffalo W 38-7
@South Carolina W 24-17
Arkansas L 27-10
Florida W 27-17
Tulane W 38-13
@Ole Miss W 23-17
Arkansas State W 27-0
Georgia L 37-15
@Alabama W 22-15

Average margin of victory: 17.7 points.
Average margin of loss: 19.5 points

Sagarin ranking Auburn at 21st, Nebraska at 24th.
Sagarin schedule rank - Auburn at 61, Nebraska's at 36.

What about Nebraska's and Auburn's performances statistically? Below are tables of the two teams' season totals, with national rank in parentheses.

Auburn By The Numbers: Offense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Touchdowns Pass YPG Pass YPA Touchdowns QB Rating Total Offense Scoring Offense
155.0 (43) 4.28 (42) 20 (36) 177.8 (87) 8.2 (21) 13 (76) 139.19 (34) 332.8 (68) 25.4 (49)
Nebraska By The Numbers: Offense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Touchdowns Pass YPG Pass YPA Touchdowns QB Rating Total Offense Scoring Offense
175.62 (25) 4.42 (36) 26 (12) 253.2 (17) 8.6 (9) 31 (6) 154.88 (10) 428.8 (9) 31.8 (13)
Auburn By The Numbers: Defense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Touchdowns Pass YPG Pass YPA Total Defense Scoring Defense
125.83 (48) 3.81 (55) 7 (12) 171.7 (20) 6.6 (40) 297.5 (25) 13.9 (7)
Nebraska By The Numbers: Defense
Rush YPG Rush YPA Touchdowns Pass YPG Pass YPA Total Defense Scoring Defense
120.38 (43) 3.90 (63) 13 (47) 223.3 (89) 6.8 (51) 343.7 (69) 18.4 (30)

How do the offensive and defensive numbers relate to the teams' 2006 schedule? The following chart shows the national rank in total offense and total defense for each of the 2006 opponents. Nebraska opponent Nicholls State is a Div 1AA team and is therefore excluded. Auburn didn't play any Div IA teams.

Nebraska-Auburn Opponents' Positional Ranks
Total Offense Rank Nebraska Opponent Total Defense Rank -- Total Offense Rank Auburn Opponent Total Defense Rank
59
Louisiana Tech
119 (last)
--
25
Washington State
81
26
USC
23
--
103
Mississipii State
47
85
Troy
70
--
18
LSU
2
35
Kansas
94
--
109
Buffalo
100
82
Iowa State
102
--
28
South Carolina
46
70
Kansas State
63
--
32
Arkansas
34
23
Texas
22
--
21
Florida
10
16
Oklahoma State
92
--
62
Tulane
108
12
Missouri
35
--
111
Ole Miss
77
19
Texas A&M
37
--
88
Arkansas State
36
102
Colorado
68
--
77
Georgia
9
42
Big 12: Oklahoma
17
--
60
Alabama
18
47.58
Average
61.83
--
61.17
Average
47.33

So what do we see when looking at the stats versus the opponents?

- The single statistic that stands out for each team with regards to strength versus strength is Auburn's scoring defense at seven against Nebraska's scoring offense at thirteen. Nebraska has converted 42 of 49 attempts in the red zone, 39 of those being touchdowns. That's an 85.6% in scoring, with 79.5% being touchdowns. Pretty impressive.

- Auburn has given up 20 of 32 opponent's scoring chances in the red zone, with only 12 touchdowns. That's allowing a score 62.5% of the time, with only 37.5% being touchdowns. Looking at the stats, maybe it's because they've played against some really bad offenses.

- Auburn is ranked low in passing relative to the rest of the nation, but balanced when you look at yardage per game between rushing and passing. All-around their offense hasn't been that impressive, but they've played against overall better offenses than Nebraska has this season.

- Are Auburn's overall defensive stats are inflated due to playing some pretty crummy offenses? Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Buffalo are at the bottom of the heap, but Washington State, LSU, and Florida among the top 25 in the nation.

- Auburn's offense is average at best, although by our chart they've faced better overall defenses this year. What stands out is their high yard per average passing, which strengthens the idea that they're going to run to open up the pass.

- It's not difficult to understand how Auburn lost to Florida with a 21st-ranked offense, allowing 27 points. But giving up 37 to Georgia with a 77th-ranked offense? You might look to Auburn's four interceptions in the game, but Georgia had four turnovers as well (three fumbles, one interception). Georgia more than doubled Auburn's yardage in that game.

- I get the feeling that if Nebraska scores in the high 20's or more, we'll win. Low to mid-20's, it's a toss-up.

- I think we'll do a different post with the turnover margins, interceptions, fumbles and some special teams stuff.

- Anything else that stands out?

HT to BON for this completely stolen idea. I liked it, I stole it.