Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Top 25, Plus a Statistical Comparison of USC and Texas on Defense

1. Southern Cal
2. Texas
3. Penn State
4. Ohio State
5. Auburn
6. Georgia
7. Miami (Florida)
8. Oregon
9. Notre Dame
10. Virginia Tech
11. West Virginia
12. Louisiana State
13. TCU
14. Alabama
15. Texas Tech
16. Georgia Tech
17. Florida
18. Iowa
19. Louisville
20. Michigan
21. Boston College
22. UCLA
23. Oklahoma
24. Wisconsin
25. Clemson

Greater Los Angeles can breathe again; I've restored Southern Cal to the #1 spot in my rankings. They were #2 because they didn't give any sign of having a national championship caliber defense over the course of the season, but now, after they shut down one of the better offenses in the country, I'm sold. (And this will at least give us yokels some ammo the next time Heismanpundit makes reference to USC's shelling of Arkansas; the Trojans beat the #3 team in the Pac Ten in similar fashion.) That said, I ran a few numbers to see if USC's relatively pedestrian defensive numbers are truly the result of having played better offenses and the answer is only "somewhat," mainly in comparison to Texas:


Scoring Defense - 21.3
Opponents' Scoring Average - 28.81
Differential - 7.51

Total Defense - 344.67
Opponents' Average Offensive Yardage - 422.71
Differential - 78.04

Yards Per Play Allowed - 5.04
Opponents' Yard Per Play Gained - 5.39
Differential - .35

Turnovers Gained Per Game - 3.08
Opponents' Turnovers Lost Per Game - 1.68
Differential - 1.4


Scoring Defense - 14.6
Opponents' Scoring Average - 26.99
Differential - 12.39

Total Defense - 280.33
Opponents' Average Offensive Yardage - 376.17
Differential - 95.84

Yards Per Play Allowed - 4.13
Opponents' Yard Per Play Gained - 5.26
Differential - 1.13

Turnovers Gained - 2.08
Opponents' Turnovers Lost Per Game - 2.14
Differential - (.06)

Texas is better in every defensive category, even when opponents' offenses are included. They have healthy advantages over USC in scoring differentials and yards per play differentials and a slighter advantage in yards per game differentials. The one startling finding, though, is that USC is far better at forcing turnovers and, in fact, Texas forced fewer turnovers than their opponents average per game, despite Gene Chizik's reputation as a pressure-creating fool. The turnover stat, combined with Pete Carroll's record with a month to prepare, homefield advantage, and an offense producing at a world historical clip, are enough for me to rank USC #1 and predict that they'll win the Rose Bowl.

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