BCS Bowl Statistical Preview - Rose Bowl

We make our living on this blog discussing, sometimes down to the most mundane detail, everything about Michigan football. And while we love doing what we do, there is very little to discuss right now...at least anything worth delving into details about.

So in the spirit of good sportsmanship, or maybe just simple boredom, we're going to offer up our statistical analysis of this season's upcoming BCS bowl games.

We'll go into statistical detail about who has the edge, and in what ways, and how we feel each game is going to turn out. Our data will come from the most reputable sources...as far as I know. Our data screeners are usually pretty consistent.

So we'll go in chronological order. Starting with the Rose Bowl. Enjoy!

The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi

#8 Penn State University
#5 University of Southern California

Thursday, January 1, 2009 - 4:30PM EST
The Rose Bowl - Pasadena, CA

For all of the hype surrounding USC's consistency about getting to the Rose Bowl each year, this might be the best chance the Big Ten has had at knocking them off. Michigan struggled big time in 2004, did slightly better in 2007. And of course Illinois looked downright pitiful against the Trojans earlier this year.

I have been pretty much high on Penn State all year long. I predicted them to win the Big Ten. But I also predicted a potential stumbling against Iowa. I don't make it a habit of cheering for other Big Ten teams based purely on the fact that they're in the Big Ten. I either like a team, or I don't. Regardless of conference affiliation. But seeing PSU get knocked off in Iowa City that night was kind of a bummer. I think the Big Ten needs to have Penn State do well. The best thing that can happen to this conference is to have a team other than Michigan or especially tOSU do well. It's clear now that the general college football fan is tired of tOSU being a push-over against top-caliber teams. Frankly, networks must be tired of it, too.

For the first time all year, Penn State is the underdog. While I'll certainly not argue that, I think 10 points is a bit steep. Penn State has shown this year that they can win against good teams, even on the road.

The best way we can judge the outcome of this game is by mutual opponents. And luckily, we have one. Enter: Oregon State.

On September 6, PSU hosted the #24 ranked Beavers. It was a blowout. Penn State walked all over them for a 45-14 victory.

1st Downs1923
Total Yards342454
3rd Down Conversions5-168-13
4th Down Conversions1-40-1

Clearly, a good non-conference win for PSU. Their 7th straight at home versus a PAC-10 team.

Two weeks later in September 25, Oregon State hosted USC on their field for a Thursday night game on ESPN. Not very often do we get to see USC in prime time here in the midwest. So lots of folks were watching. USC was ranked #1 and Oregon State was ripe for an upset. They knocked off the Trojans 27-21.

1st Downs1622
Total Yards313343
3rd Down Conversions2-107-16
4th Down Conversions1-10-0

Having a mutual opponent is a great tool to judge the match up in a bowl game. But I think it is pretty clear that Oregon State played way above their pay-grade against USC, at least as compared to how bad they looked against PSU. Without a loss in week 1 to Stanford and a close loss a week after the USC game to Utah, and this Oregon State team is preparing for a Rose Bowl game against Penn State.

But this game is a match up of Penn State and USC. So who has the best advantage?

Stats are season stats/averages and obtained from cfbstats.com.

Scoring: Points/Game 40.2 37.5
Scoring: Games - Points 12 - 482 12 - 450
First Downs: Total 281 278
First Downs: Rushing - Passing - By Penalty 130 - 132 - 19 123 - 137 - 18
Rushing: Yards / Attempt 5.26 5.29
Rushing: Attempts - Yards - TD 482 - 2534 - 35 469 - 2482 - 27
Passing: Rating 147.55 156.68
Passing: Yards 2892 2955
Passing: Attempts - Completions - Interceptions - TD 346 - 203 - 4 - 22 352 - 225 - 12 - 31
Total Offense: Yards / Play 6.6 6.6
Total Offense: Plays - Yards 828 - 5426 821 - 5437
Punt Returns: Yards / Return 10.36 8.13
Punt Returns: Returns - Yards - TD 25 - 259 - 1 48 - 390 - 0
Kickoff Returns: Yards / Return 25.66 27.57
Kickoff Returns: Returns - Yards - TD 32 - 821 - 2 21 - 579 - 1
Punting: Yards / Punt 41.66 36.58
Punting: Punts - Yards 38 - 1583 43 - 1573
Interceptions: Returns - Yards - TD 16 - 199 - 0 17 - 276 - 2
Fumbles: Number - Lost 23 - 9 21 - 9
Penalties: Number - Yards 40 - 336 97 - 888
Time of Possession / Game 32:02.17 31:10.75
3rd Down Conversions: Conversion % 52.8% 45.45%
3rd Down Conversions: Attempts - Conversions 161 - 85 154 - 70
4th Down Conversions: Conversion % 45.45% 61.11%
4th Down Conversions: Attempts - Conversions 11 - 5 18 - 11
Red Zone: Success % 93.44% 83.05%
Red Zone: Attempts - Scores 61 - 57 59 - 49
Field Goals: Success % 83.3% 66.7%
Field Goals: Attempts - Made 24 - 20 12 - 8
PAT Kicking: Success % 100% 98.4%
PAT Kicking: Attempts - Made 60 - 60 61 - 60
2-Point Conversions: Success % - -
2-Point Conversions: Attempts - Made 0 - 0 0 - 0

I'm not a Vegas odds-maker, but I simply don't see a 10 point advantage in there. Sure, give USC maybe 3 points for home-field, but that's about it. I think this game, statistically is pretty darn close.

But there is an advantage that USC has simply because they are USC. The media loves them, they always play well in marquee games, and they have a home-crowd. Those three things do account for something. AND...how well have Big Ten teams fared lately when travelling out west, bowl or not? Exactly.

This might be one of the best bowl games of the year. And it will be because it should be low-scoring. If you enjoyed the PSU-tOSU game this year, you'll probably enjoy this game as well.

My prediction is USC wins, but it will be close. 17-14.

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