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Under The Hood: Nebraska vs. Colorado Statistical Comparison

Statistics are good to know before you head into a game against a team that hates your guts. If they start giving you too much crap, you can just throw statistical information back at them. Unless they've been following along, they have little choice to respond with the phrase common to losers everywhere: 


Some stats can be dismissed, or made to say whatever you want, but when you're ranked at the bottom of several categories across several facets of football, things aren't going well no matter how much you rationalize. 

That's where Colorado is this season. Before I looked, I thought that it would be Colorado's defense near the bottom of the NCAA rankings, but it's not. It's their offense.

Offensive Statistics

Nebraska   Colorado
Rush YPG 147.73 (62/6)   83.73 (113/11)
Rush YPC 4.18 (65/5)   2.62 (117/12)
Rush TDS 17 (54/7)   14 (81/11)
Pass YPG 197.7 (85/9)   222.5 (53/8)
Pass YPA 7.1 (63/7)   5.7 (109/12)
Pass TDS 14 (75/10)   15 (67/9)
Pass Efficiency 128.82 (62/8)   105.86 (111/12)
Total Offense 345.5 (82/10)   306.3 (108/12)
Scoring Offense 25.4 (73/8)   22.5 (91/10

If you thought our offense was bad, welcome to the Buffs. Rodney Stewart is the Buffs top running back, ranked 67th nationally in averaging 69.4 yards per game. Stewart is averaging 3.92 yards per carry. The very low team per carry average is because of all the sacks and negative plays that Colorado has had this season - Cody Hawkins has lost an average of 12 yards per game (-84 yards rushing). That's icky.

I'm not going to say much about Cody Hawkins or Tyler Hansen because you can read some incredibly in-depth stuff here. Buff receivers Scotty McKnight and Markques Simas are dangerous, but not overwhelming. McKnight averages just over 70 yards per game, and has four TD receptions. Simas has come on strong lately, with 135 and 128 yards receiving against Texas A&M and Iowa State, respectively. He dropped to 92 against Oklahoma State, but I don't think anyone is going to confuse the Blackshirt defense with any one of those teams.

The Huskers don't have a good offense any way you look at it. We're only around average in rushing, and below average everywhere else. i don't know about you, but I'm going to spend the next two games playing the "Shawn Watson has kept the real offense under wraps until the end of the season!' angle. I find it irritates opposing fans when I refuse to listen to reason, which is the only way to make a cruddy offense enjoyable.

Hate to point this out, but the Buffs have more passing touchdowns than we do despite much worse statistics in this area. That speaks volumes about our inability to get in the end zone earlier this season.

Roy Helu is ranked 29th nationally, just under 100 yards per game at 96.09. Not bad considering he's been injured.

Defensive Statistics

Nebraska   Colorado
Rush YPG 98.09 (13/4)   162.73 (83/10)
Rush YPC 2.85 (8/3)   4.18 (75/9)
Rush TDS 6 (8/2)   15 (58/8)
Pass YPG 182.3 (17/1)   213.5 (57/4)
Pass YPA 5.3 (3/1)   7.3 (75/10)
Pass TDS 4 (1/1)   18 (81/10)
Total Defense 280.4 (8/2)   376.3 (72/9)
Scoring Defense 10.3 (3/1)   28.9 (88/11)

Look at the Huskers defensive stats. If that ain't beauty....  I don't know what you're looking for. Four passing touchdowns given up so far this season.

The Buffaloes on the other hand.... oy vey. Their defensive stats are not beautiful. They're not hideous, though, as they have not dropped to the Nebraska 2007 level (112th total defense - 476.8 yards per game, 114th scoring defense -37.9 points per game) or to Kansas State 2008 (118th total defense - 479.1 yards per game, 111th scoring defense- 35.8 points per game) so those comparisons are inappropriate.

The Huskers have given up 16 pass plays of 25+ yards, compared to the Buffs at 25 of 25+ yards. When watching Colorado football this year, they have a real problem with letting receivers get behind their deepest defenders.That explains poor passing touchdown defense.

The Details

Nebraska   Colorado
3rd Down Conversions (Pctg) 40.13 (58/8)   35.06 (94/10)
Red Zone Conversions (Score %) 79.55 (72/9)   84.21 (43/6)
Turnover Margin +2 (53/6)   -4 (82/10)
Sacks 32 (12/5)   24 (43/8)
Tackles for Loss 73 (33/5)   62 (63/9)
Sacks Allowed 15 (31/3)   42 (117/12)
Punting (Avg) 41.12 (51/5)   37.71 (103/11)
Punt Returns 10.15 (47/7)   2.96 (117/12)
Kickoffs (Avg) 68.20 (2/2)   64.86 (22/4)
Kickoff Returns 23.07 (39/5)   24.24 (20/3)
Penalties (Yds/G) 66 (102/7)   79.4 (117/10)

- Both of these teams are awful in picking up penalties. The Huskers haven't gotten any better in November, still ranked 102nd and averaging 64.3 yard per game. But the Buffs have gotten worse (yes, that's possible), dropping to dead last in FBS, 120th at 94.7 yards per game. Both teams have tendencies to pick up personal foul penalties at the worst possible moments. One wonders how sloppy Friday's game will be.

- 117th in sacks allowed? Wow! Insert your jokes about a Jared Crick - Ndamukong Suh feast in the comments section, while I stick with a "turkey shoot" meme. Tyler Hansen has taken 31 sacks so far this year. It'd be nice if he'd take about ten more this game.

- The Buffaloes do have a potential game-breaking weapon in kickoff returns. Brian Lockridge is 61st nationally with a 24.07 average. (By comparison, Niles Paul is 36th with an average of 25.69. 1.62 yards means a huge difference in ranking, but not an enormous difference on the field). Lockridge's sole touchdown came last week against Oklahoma State. The Huskers have done a great job of shutting down kickoffs this season (hence the #2 ranking), thanks largely to Adi Kunalic

- Colorado's punting average is pretty hideous. There's an understatement for you.

- What did I miss?