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OSU vs. Michigan Pregame Stat Comparison
By John Porentas

If you've are a long-time visitor to the-Ozone you know that one of our favorite sayings is this: Statistics are like bikinis; what they reveal is interesting, what they hide is essential.

We're always a little skeptical of comparison of sports statistics, particularly if schedules are not taken into consideration, but that doesn't mean we don't like to make those comparisons anyway. In fact, we love doing it. We just like to make sure the comparisons are fair.

We wanted to take a comparative look at the stats of the Buckeyes and Wolverines and decided the only fair way to do that was to look at them in league play. That takes out the bias introduced by non-conference scheduling quirks (think New Mexico State Buckeye fans). What we want to look at is how the teams have done against very similar competition.

In the table below are the numbers for each team in league play only. We've tried to group the stats in some way that will help you make sense of them. The number in parenthesis after each statistic indicates where that team ranks in the conference in that particular category. Our source is

At the end of the table, we'll give you our overall impression of the numbers.

Ohio State

28.7 (2nd)
23.9 ( 7th)
Scoring Defense
13.0 (1st)
35.0 (11th)
Rushing Offense
191.1 (2nd)
125.9 ( 6th)
Rushing Defense
80.6 (2nd)
196.6 (11th)
Pass Offense
144.7 ypg (11th)
197.1 ypg ( 8th)
Pass Defense
192.9 ypg ( 4th)
247.7 ypg ( 9th)
Pass Efficiency
131.1 (2nd)
119.9 (9th)
Pass Defense Efficiency
98.6 (2nd)
147.4 (11th)
Sacks By
21 (t1st)
14 (8th)
Sacks Against
13 (5th)
23 (t9th)
Total Offense
335.9 (8th)
323.0 (10th)
Total Defense
273.4 (1st)
444.3 (11th)
Turnover Margin
+1.14 (2nd)
-1.29 (11th)
Red Zone Offense
72.2 % (t9th)
63.0 % (11th)
Red Zone Defense
73.3 % (3rd)
96.6 % (11th)
Time of Possession
29.26 (6th)
25.19 (11th)
Third Down Conversions
39.6 (8th)
40.2 (7th)
Opp Third Down Conv.
30.1 (1st)
41.5 (7th)
37.0 ( 7th)
42.4 (1st)
Punt Returns
9.9 (3rd)
9.3 (5th)
Kickoff Returns
22.2 (6th)
23.6 (4th)
Kickoff Coverage
43.2 net ave. (3rd)
40.4 (8th)

Before we looked at this chart we had the overall impression that the Buckeyes were a team heading into the game with a pretty stout defense and a pretty mediocre offense. The Wolverines on the other hand were porous on defense but were lighting it up on offense. The numbers support that view of the two defenses, but the offense is a different story.

We were surprised to see that coming into the game the only offensive category in which the Wolverines have a substantial advantage is passing yardage.They also hold a very small edge in third down conversions. In every other category the Buckeyes hold an the advantage, including passing efficiency.

Defensively, it's a shutout. OSU had a huge advantage everywhere. The special teams show Michigan with a decided advantage in punting, but the Buckeyes are better than the Wolverines in kickoff coverage.

Interesting? Yes. Essential? We'll see.The numbers can't and don't take into consideration things like injuries, weather, officiating, home field, and emotions. In 2007 weather was a huge factor in OSU's win in Ann Arbor when Michigan's Chad Henne led passing game was rendered ineffective by a deluge. In 2003 a series of injuries to OSU's linebacker corps left the Buckeye defense susceptible to the Michigan running game.

It's hard to predict what will influence the 2009 game, but the Wolverines have an awful lot to play for, and the Buckeyes have already locked up a lot of what the set out to do this season. Beating OSU to salvage the season and get to a bowl game will be a big motivator for Michigan as well as the satisfaction of preventing the Buckeyes from claiming an outright Big Ten championship. There are no numbers to measure those kinds of things, but to ignore them would be foolish.

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