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Numbers, Statistics and Lies: Week 3 Game of the Century Bonus Edition

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We talk about Nebraska and Oklahoma 2021 - but the 1971 version is even more fun!

NCAA Photos Archive

For those of you new to Corn Nation, NSL is a weekly dive into statistics. This is not any sort of advanced stats; only basic stuff that is cherry-picked based on my whims that 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.

The easy part of the schedule is done. The Huskers have shown some growth, but not enough to think they can be competitive with top teams. Most Nebraska fans are expecting a rout by Oklahoma in a few days. The characteristics of that rout will determine how loudly Husker fans scream for burnt offerings as well as the number of graduate assistants to be sacrificed.

So what are the numbers that caught my eye this week?

145-82

In three games, Nebraska has run the ball 145 times and passed 82 times. For those of you keeping score at home, that is a 64:36 run:pass ratio. That is bonafied RUNTHEDANGBALL territory. Spoiler alert: Those ratios are far more eye-popping in the Game of the Century section below.

Nebraska’s young offensive line is being challenged by this coaching staff early and often. We have found the results wanting in many ways. The rushing attack has not been consistent but there has been a concerted effort to protect Adrian from having to shoulder the load. No running back has emerged from a group of guys who are all mostly new to the program. Are the rushing woes due to the line or due to the running backs?

Perhaps both?

Nebraska needs to figure out what they can do well. And soon.

No one has ever offered to pay me to coach football, but I do have to wonder if a fullback would be useful right about now... #BringBackTheFullback #INominateJaqYant

-0.20

Through three games, the Huskers are averaging -0.2 yards per punt return.

Sigh.

I don’t want to talk about it.

9.8 vs 16.3

In 2020, the Huskers averaged 9.8 yards per pass completion.

So far, in 2021, Nebraska is averaging 16.3 yards/completion.

Yes, I am comparing apples to oranges because all of 2020 was conference play and 2021 is mostly non-conference play so far. Two 68 yard passing touchdowns vs Buffalo are skewing those stats as well.

Against Fordham and Buffalo, we saw a quarterback who (when his line keeps him clean) is getting more confident throwing down the field (thank you Samori Toure!) Adrian is not a pinpoint passer. He is not going to consistently hit receivers in stride or split defenders with his accuracy, but if someone gets open downfield he is starting to feel comfortable enough to chuck it that general direction. I think (hope) that Oliver Martin and Austin Allen also have developed that level of trust because it would be nice to have more than one option for downfield plays now that the competition level is going to ramp up significantly.

Color Coded Pile of Numbers - Nebraska

Raise your hand if you thought the offense would be green-er than the defense in the color-coded pile right now.

Put it down. You did not.

At least we have the comfort of knowing that special teams is still...consistent.

I decided to add some Game of the Century stats below rather than doing further “analysis” here. After three weeks vs poor competition, the color coded pile is only here to reinforce our pre-conceived notions in some places or give us potentially false hope in others.

Color-Coded Pile - Oklahoma

As you would expect from the #3 ranked team in the country, there aren’t many holes.

Hey look! They have a bad punt return defense. If only Nebraska could return punts. /sad face.

The sooner defense hasn’t picked off many passes yet this season, but they are recovering more fumbles than all but one other team in FBS. /looks around nervously.

For a little more salt in the wound, the OU field goal kicker has made six of seven attempts so far in 2021 (not in the color-coded pile). Good thing this game isn’t likely to come down to a field goal. Amirite?

Game of the Century Bonus Statistics

I thought it would be fun to poke around in the archives and see what the box score said about this Clash of the Titans.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the rushing stats.

  • Nebraska ran 72 offensive plays. 59 of them were rushes. 13 pass attempts. That is an 82:18 run:pass ratio.
  • Oklahoma ran 75 plays with 64 of them being rushes. That is an 85:15 run:pass ratio.

Both teams completed six passes.

  • Of Nebraska’s six completed passes, five were caught by Johnny Rodgers. The other was caught by running back Jeff McKinney. When you run the ball 80% of the time, you only need one Heisman-caliber receiver to make the offense work.
  • OU’s quarterback threw five of the six completions which were caught by two different receivers. One of those threw the other completion.

On the defensive side of the ball...

  • Rich Glover registered 22 tackles. 19 of them were assisted, but those are eye popping numbers for a nose guard. I guess his jersey number is on the stadium wall for a reason.

Penalties and special teams

  • There was only one penalty the entire game. It was a five yarder on NU.
  • NU fumbled once (losing it) while OU fumbled five times (losing three).
  • I added special teams purely to embed the “man, woman, and child” clip. Enjoy!