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Numbers, Statistics and Lies: Ohio State Edition

The Buckeyes have certainly been passing the eye test lately. Do the numbers back that up? (spoiler: yes)

Penn State v Ohio State Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

NSL is a weekly dive into statistics. This is not advanced stats; only basic stuff that is cherry-picked based on my whims this week. The numbers the chicken entrails point to carefully selected for further analysis are compared to the eye test. About that ‘eye test’, you should know that I usually forget to DVR the games and even when I do, I have so much stuff going on that I don’t have time to rewatch them. I also think I might need glasses. You’ve been warned.

It is starting to get hard to know what to write in these anymore. I can find plenty of numbers that tell a story of a team that should have won the game.

Then, there is a number or two that explains why they didn’t.

That is Nebraska’s season in a nutshell.

The Huskers gained 399 yards to Purdue’s 349. They averaged more yards/rush and more yards/completion. The penalty yards were similar, as were the kickoff yards. Nebraska outpunted Purdue with a net average of 39.2 to 31.8.

Sacks, tackles for loss, quarterback hurries and pass breakups were similar.

Purdue even missed two field goals.

The difference?

Yes, the four interceptions were killers. You can’t go -4 in the turnover margin and reasonably expect to win a game.

The other number?


Purdue ran 86 offensive plays and possessed the ball for almost 39 minutes. Nebraska had the ball for 21 minutes and ran 58 plays.

The lack of consistency in the run game and a [presumably] hobbled quarterback has led to an offense that is no longer in ball control mode as it was earlier in the season. That has been putting more pressure on the defense. The Huskers need to find a way to hang on to the ball for longer drives and give the Blackshirts some breaks. #FootballForDummies #Analysis

I adore Adrian Martinez but his inability/unwillingness to run the ball is now leading to bad decisions in the pass game. I don’t expect to see Logan Smothers start on Saturday, but if he gives Nebraska a better chance to sustain longer drives, I wish we could at least give that option a try.

Color Coded Pile of Numbers

Nothing new or earth shattering to discuss here either. We know what this team is right now. The offense puts up yards but doesn’t protect the QB, and has a hard time finishing in the red zone.

The Blackshirts have seen their rank in the Big Ten and FBS creep in the wrong direction the last two games - largely because they’ve been on the field for nearly 23 of each of those contests.

For your viewing of these things is not like the other ones...

Ohio State - Color-Coded Pile

Um, yeah. The Husker offense better wake up this weekend and not hang their defense out to dry for 35-40 minutes. The explosive Buckeyes don’t need much time on the field to rack up yards and points.

Ohio State has given up some yards in the passing game, but have started to turn that around in the past three weeks. It looks like we can expect some penalties from the Buckeyes too - let’s hope that isn’t contagious. Overall, this is an Ohio State team that is finding its stride after a slow (by their standards) start. Worse yet (for Husker fans), they are looking for statement games to improve their standing for the playoff.

Nebraska is going to have to pull off a game plan similar to what they did vs Oklahoma in trying to limit possessions. Based on the past two games, I am not optimistic they can do it.

If they can flip the offensive script, this Husker team has shown they are capable of some really solid and complimentary football. I think most Husker fans are hoping for something good for a team that is so resilient and entertaining.

So, what else do you see in the numbers? Let me know in the comments!