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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