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Putting It In Perspective - Further Statistical Comparison Between Nebraska and Missouri

Last week I took at look at a simple statistical comparison between Nebraska and Missouri and their opponents to get an idea of the level of competition each team has faced. This morning we look at where the two teams rank nationally and in the Big 12 conference with regards to some key statistics. 

You know the deal with statistics. Depending upon how you look at them, you can get them to say anything you want and you know that each team is going to emphasize statistics that show them in a positive light. Perhaps I should take the same approach..... but I'm a little too cynical for that. 

Nebraska     Missouri  
  National Big 12   National Big 12
Rushing Offense 39 9   60 10
Passing Offense 33 7   10 4
Passing Efficiency 20 4   6 1
Total Offense 19 6   16 5
Rushing Defense 39 6   61 8
Pass Defense 23 3   68 8
Pass Efficiency Defense 16 2   39 7
Total Defense 21 4   59 8
Scoring Defense 1 1   21 5
Turnover Margin T-17 2   T-36 5
Sacks T-30 6   T-51 8
Tackles For Loss T-47 6   T-47 6
Sacks Allowed 12 3   T-34 5
Net Punting 63 8   2 2
Punt Returns 25 3   91 10
Kickoff Returns 45 7   60 9

Nebraska's offense is no where near juggernaut status. Roy Helu has been wonderful to watch and has excelled consistently throughout four games on his way to leading the Big 12 in per game rushing average. Zac Lee has done well at home and the receivers, especially Curenski Gilleylen, have performed admirably. Unfortunately, overall the Husker offense has been inconsistent. While the Huskers have shown they can score points against over matched competition, the offense sputtered against Virginia Tech - the only decent defense we've played. 

There is one statistic not listed above that should be - penalties per game. Missouri is currently ranked 12th nationally in that category with five per game. Nebraska is at 65th with 6.75 per game. When you consider that a mistake within this category cost Nebraska the victory at Virginia Tech and a potential Top 10 ranking, it's clear this is an area of concern as this team heads into Columbia. If we get more of the same, it may result in another loss. 

Husker fans shouldn't have to worry much about Missouri's defense as long as Nebraska takes care of the ball, however, as the Tiger D has given up a fair amount of yardage and points to less than stellar competition. Their problems can't be blamed on taking an opponent for granted or looking ahead to a tough opponent, as both Bowling Green and Nevada managed to put some pressure on the Tigers before losing. However, if the TIgers truly see this as a rivalry game, won't that encourage them to play above themselves? Shouldn't we expect more from them than what the statistics tell us so far? 

Missouri Tigers quarterback Blaine Gabberts has done well against lousy competition, leading the Big 12 in pass efficiency. As would point out, he's first in the nation during the second half. Sounds impressive, but taken from the other perspective - OUR perspective - what it means is that Missouri's offense has a hard time getting started. Note that the Husker D performs pretty well at pass efficiency - which indicates the key component to this game. 

Beyond the wonder that is Gabberts, Missouri's offense has been pretty pedestrian, and their star returning running back Derrick Washington has yet to explode this season. Missouri's offensive line was expected to be a team strength, but the anemic nature of the running game shows that's not the case. It shouldn't change much given the Husker defensive line with Ndamukong Suh

Husker fans will have to hear about the 41 points we've given up in the last three trips to Columbia, but given we're entering this game first in the nation in scoring defense, it'd take an implosion of massive proportions for that to happen again. 

Statistics don't tell us what's going to happen on Thursday night, but they do give us an idea of where a team's strengths and weaknesses lie. They also tell us where to expect collisions.