Study Hall: Auburn 42, Utah State 38

Also known as "Anatomy Of A Near Upset."

Auburn 42, Utah State 38

Auburn Utah State Auburn Utah State
Close % 100.0% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 46.3% 58.3% Success Rate 50.0% 47.3%
Leverage % 0.630 0.655 PPP 0.34 0.30
S&P 0.840 0.775
EqPts 28.3 31.8 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 48.2% 48.8% Success Rate 45.0% 51.7%
Close PPP 0.52 0.38 PPP 0.84 0.52
Close S&P 1.005 0.867 S&P 1.286 1.040
EqPts 8.6 21.1 Number 0 0
Close Success Rate 39.3% 48.1% Turnover Pts 0.0 0.0
Close PPP 0.31 0.41 Turnover Pts Margin +0.0 +0.0
Close S&P 0.699 0.887
Line Yards/carry 2.28 2.47 Q1 S&P 0.864 1.099
Q2 S&P 0.666 0.700
PASSING Q3 S&P 1.050 0.624
EqPts 19.7 10.7 Q4 S&P 1.163 0.964
Close Success Rate 57.7% 50.0%
Close PPP 0.76 0.33 1st Down S&P 0.711 0.668
Close S&P 1.334 0.834 2nd Down S&P 1.105 0.911
SD/PD Sack Rate 8.3% / 7.1% 7.1% / 0.0% 3rd Down S&P 1.471 1.008
Projected Pt. Margin: Utah State by 3.5 | Actual Pt. Margin: Auburn by 4

Five Thoughts:

  1. There were 7.5 points between the projected and actual scoring margins. If USU doesn't clam up on Auburn's onsides kick, that works out just about right. But Auburn created one more possession for themselves with that, and they won because of it.

  2. Both teams performed at a higher level on passing downs than standard downs. Or, to put it in a less positive way, both defenses suffered epic passing downs breakdowns.

  3. To take that in another direction, neither team was very sure of itself in terms of gameplanning and standard downs. They were conservative and somewhat efficient, but the big plays were nowhere to be found until they fell into second- or third-and-long.

  4. Really, Utah State followed the "Anatomy of an Upset" plan perfectly. They struck early with some spectacular first-quarter offense and three touchdowns in the first 23 minutes, and then they held on for dear life. They made a couple of extra plays in the fourth quarter as well, but in the end, a) Tre Mason's 97-yard kickoff return in the second quarter and b) the onsides kick failure doomed Utah State. They earned this win on offense and defense and blew it on special teams.

  5. Consider me tremendously concerned about Auburn's running game. They produced enough big plays through the air to make up for it, but even though USU is led by a strong defensive coach, averaging 2.28 line yards per carry against USU is a bad sign. Actually, considering their sack rates weren't that good either, consider me tremendously concerned about Auburn's rebuilt offensive line.
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