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Study Hall: Nebraska 34, Ohio State 27

I tried to get a press pass for this game, but evidently starting this job in mid-September made me about six months too late to gobble up a spot. Alas, it would have been quite enjoyable watching the folks in the "no cheering in the press box" press box trying to maintain their cool as Nebraska came back.

Nebraska 34, Ohio State 27

Nebraska Ohio State Nebraska Ohio State
Close % 100.0% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 41.1% 37.3% Success Rate 48.1% 41.5%
Leverage % 71.2% 69.5% PPP 0.35 0.39
S&P 0.832 0.805
EqPts 26.5 20.2 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 45.2% 40.7% Success Rate 38.1% 38.9%
Close PPP 0.36 0.34 PPP 0.39 0.23
Close S&P 0.815 0.749 S&P 0.771 0.621
EqPts 14.4 14.0 Number 1 2
Close Success Rate 44.9% 45.0% Turnover Pts 3.5 7.8
Close PPP 0.29 0.35 Turnover Pts Margin +4.4 -4.4
Close S&P 0.742 0.800
Line Yards/carry 2.99 3.14 Q1 S&P 0.260 0.979
Q2 S&P 0.461 1.417
PASSING Q3 S&P 1.214 0.655
EqPts 12.1 6.2 Q4 S&P 1.081 0.139
Close Success Rate 45.8% 31.6%
Close PPP 0.50 0.33 1st Down S&P 0.849 0.967
Close S&P 0.962 0.643 2nd Down S&P 0.917 0.505
SD/PD Sack Rate 7.7% / 9.1% 16.7% / 0.0% 3rd Down S&P 0.625 0.723
Projected Pt. Margin: Nebraska +10.6 | Actual Pt. Margin: Nebraska +7

Five Thoughts

  1. As mentioned in this week's Numerical, this game so completely swung when Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller went down. He was not infallible -- he lost a fumble on the drive before he got hurt, and Nebraska was able cut the Buckeyes' 27-6 lead to just 27-13 -- but the team just completely fell apart when he got hurt.

    Yards Per Play, Pre-Miller Injury: Ohio State 7.4, Nebraska 4.4 (Score: OSU 27, NU 13)
    Yards Per Play, Post-Miller Injury: Nebraska 7.6, Ohio State 2.6 (Score: NU 21, OSU 0)

    It almost makes it difficult to analyze this game with full-game stats.

  2. To further illustrate this point, just look at Ohio State's per-quarter S&P. It was very good in Q1, amazing in Q2, okay in Q3 and dreadful in Q4. Meanwhile, be it a combination of Nebraska persistence and an Ohio State funk, NU kept pounding away at the Buckeyes with Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead, and after an amazingly ineffective first half, their schtick began to work quite effectively in the second.

  3. Carlos Hyde (13 carries, 104 yards, 2 TD) was just awesome for Ohio State. In the end, it would have been more effective if the Buckeyes had just handed the ball to him every snap that backup quarterback Joe Bauserman (1-for-10, 13 yards, 1 INT, 1 sack) was in the game. In fact, why didn't they do that?

  4. His is anything but an incredible arm, but Taylor Martinez (16-for-22, 191 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) deserves some credit for managing an efficient passing game and converting some passing downs.

  5. It's impressive that these teams managed to combine for 61 points considering neither team came anywhere near 50% of their plays in opposing field position.

Quick glossary after the jump.

A Quick Glossary

F/+ Rankings: The official rankings for the college portion of Football Outsiders. They combine my own S&P+ rankings (based on play-by-play data) with Brian Fremeau's drives-based FEI rankings.

Passing Downs: Second-and-7 or more, third-and-5 or more.

PPP: An explosiveness measure derived from determining the point value of every yard line (based on the expected number of points an offense could expect to score from that yard line) and, therefore, every play of a given game.

S&P+: Think of this as an OPS (the "On-Base Plus Slugging" baseball measure) for football. The 'S' stands for success rates, a common Football Outsiders efficiency measure that basically serves as on-base percentage. The 'P' stands for PPP+, an explosiveness measure that stands for EqPts Per Play. The "+" means it has been adjusted for the level of opponent, obviously a key to any good measure in college football. S&P+ is measured for all non-garbage time plays in a given college football game. Plays are counted within the following criteria: when the score is within 28 points in the first quarter, within 24 points in the second quarter, within 21 points in the third quarter, and within 16 points (i.e. two possession) in the fourth quarter. For more about this measure, visit the main S&P+ page at Football Outsiders.

Standard Downs: First downs, second-and-6 or less, third-and-4 or less.

Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.