Thursday, October 04, 2007

Statistically Speaking: Purdue | by Pat

It's a Numbers Game

• Freshmen wide receivers Golden Tate and Duval Kamara both made their first real impact on the Fighting Irish with a pair of touchdown receptions against the Boilermakers. Tate picked up his first career touchdown while hauling in 3 passes for 104 yards. Kamara notched 6 receptions for 68 yards of his own and a score. Tate becomes the first freshman to total 100 or more yards receiving since Derrick Mayes in 1992. Tate and Kamara also become the first freshmen duo to catch touchdowns passes in the same game since Rocket Ismail and Derek Brown did it against Purdue in 1988.

• Going with the youth movement idea, John from Irish Roundup did some great research into the impact of underclassmen on a handful of college football teams. We've noted the yardage breakdowns by class here, but John compares that to other ranked or notable teams featuring young stars in the making like Florida, Southern Cal, Washington, LSU, and Illinois. Interesting stuff.

• I decided to copy pay homage to the work of Sunday Morning QB, who does a great weekly stats feature called Life on the Margins. I used his metrics to see if anything jumped out from the ND/PU stat sheet and was a strong reason why the Boilermakers won.

Notre Dame
Total Offense
426 371
1st Downs 21 27
Yds. / Play
5.5 4.7
Yds. / Possession
32.4 35.5
Turnovers 3 2
Swing Points
0 +6

First off, SMQB's definition of "Swing Points" are points scored via drives of 25 yards or less, safeties, or defensive/special teams touchdowns. Looking down the columns, ND had a slight advantage on total yards and yards per play while Purdue edged out ND on first downs, yards per possession, turnovers, and swing points. And while the game was more of a tale of two halves rather than a close game throughout, these stats do point to the likelihood of a close Purdue win.

One other stat that I think would add even more context is average starting field position. Sure enough, once you see that Notre Dame started on average at their own 28 yard line while Purdue started on average at their 36 yard line, the Boilermaker advantage is pretty clear. When you add that 8 yard bump to the fact that Purdue averaged about 3 more yards per possession, it's no surprise that Purdue had 7 trips to the red zone compared to 4 for Notre Dame. And when you factor in that Purdue was 7-7 on red zone scoring chances while ND was only 2-4 in getting points on red zone trips, it's easy to see why the Boilermakers won.

• Speaking of a tale of two halves, check out each team's average yards per possession when broken down by half.

Avg. Yard per Possession by Half

Notre Dame
1st Half
17.4 43.0
2nd Half
49.8 25.0

Let's hope ND has a whole bunch more halves like the second and no more like the first.

Gotta Have M.O.E.

Finally, something interesting to discuss with regards to M.O.E.

Notre Dame not only posted a season best 11% M.O.E., they had a better number than Purdue, which notched a 13%. You can find the full M.O.E. breakdown here.

If you went strictly by the "12% as likely indicator of victory" guideline, you might expect that ND would have won a close game. But they didn't and this game is an excellent example of why the M.O.E. stat is better utilized as a quick glance summary of self-inflicted offensive mistakes rather than a defacto measurement of which offense "played" better.

Just to be sure, I broke the M.O.E down by half, thinking that might reveal something interesting, but it didn't. Both teams had just about the same M.O.E for each half. The good news though is that for two games in a row, the Irish offense has played much more mistake-free football.

Season Long Running Averages

All numbers, averages, and rankings are listed here.