To the Booth: Indiana By the Numbers

By Chad Peltier on November 21, 2013 at 11:15a
That's former Buckeye recruit Shane Wynn on the right

Last night's practice update had two important details for the Buckeyes' gameplan this week. First,

Miller said the only thing Ohio State controls is winning and hopefully dominating. He said they need to make it look easy.

Miller's talking about the offense dominating, but reinforcing the perception of domination will likely be up to the defense:

Shazier said last year’s 52-49 game at Indiana still sticks with him and his teammates. He said they have a lot to prove after that performance. It proves you can’t sleep on anyone.

Put those two statements together and you have the talk of a dominant win, but what do the numbers say? Can the defense hold the 12th-ranked F/+ offense below their season average of 39 points per game? Or 28, like Michigan State was able to do?

Wisconsin held the Hoosiers to a measly field goal on the way to 51 points of their own. A win like that is exactly what the Buckeyes need to stave off talk of being jumped in the polls.

"Make It Look Easy"

The Indiana defense is just about as bad as its offense is good – it's worse than Illinois' and ranked in the F/+ only slightly higher than Purdue's. I get the sense that Indiana's Kevin Wilson is going for "The Baylor of the Midwest," which seems to be a fairly attainable goal (eventually), but the defense just isn't there yet.

Unit PPP YPP YPA Ex. Plays Red Zone TD
Indiana Defense .47 13.8 6.53 63 66%
Ohio State Offense .66 10.9 7.15 61 82%

Let's get right to the bullets:

  • Indiana's defense is not quite as bad as Ohio State's offense is good, on the other hand. Except in explosive plays – Indiana's defense loves to see the 20+ yard play almost as much as Illinois. In fact, I'd be disappointed to see less than seven explosive plays against this defense.
  • Ohio State continued its run of scoring touchdowns in the red zone last week, this time overtaking Wyoming for the number two spot in the country in red zone touchdown percentage (they finished second last season as well). This trend will continue throughout Meyer's tenure.
  • The points per play, yards per point, and yards per attempt (variously known as yards per play) all agree that this is going to be a mismatch. Not only do Indiana's numbers alone suggest that opposing teams have efficient days on offense, but the Buckeyes numbers are even better than Indiana's defense typically allows.
  • Indiana is worse than average in sacks, but not significantly so. The defense manages 1.7 per game, and unlike Illinois, the top five sack leaders on the Hoosier roster (that's anyone with more than just one) are all defensive linemen. What's more, only one of them is an upperclassman.
  • One thing Indiana does a lot of? Pass break ups. Junior defensive back Tim Bennett leads the way by a wide margin with 19 of Indiana's 50 overall. That might not be an excellent thing, because it could also suggest that opposing offenses pass more against a porous pass defense. Based on having the 94th-ranked S&P+ pass defense, that's my best guess.
  • Only two teams in the country are worse at preventing explosive rushing plays: Miami of Ohio and New Mexico State. The Buckeyes are third and fifth overall in creating long rushing plays. Hyde alone has 27 plays of more than ten yards. Meyer should get his first 1,000 yard running back in no time.

"A Lot to Prove After That Performance"

Indiana has a good offense – one that only Wisconsin has been able to truly crack. Their normally dangerous passing attack was limited to 12/30 for 122 yards and an average of 3.4 yards rushing. That forced seven punts, four three-and-outs, and three turnovers for a dismal 8% drive efficiency. The Buckeyes will shoot for that goal and settle for anything better than Michigan State's 28 points against.

Unit PPP YPP YPA Ex. Play Red zone TD
Indiana Offense .53 12.7 6.7 70 (6th) 67%
Ohio State Defense .28 17.2 4.8 24 (3rd) 63%
Sudfeld is a good quarterback for the Hoosiers and should put up some yardsThis has to be the Buckeye gameplan
  • The Hoosiers have found plenty of success on offense, with more explosive plays than even Ohio State. The difference is that Ohio State's offense has been more consistent and more efficient according to the PPP, YPP, and YPA metrics.
  • Another example of explosiveness but inefficiency is in the Hoosier redzone touchdown percentage, where they're only ending with a touchdown 2/3 of the time to Ohio State's almost 4/5.
  • I expect Indiana to score against the Buckeyes. Their strength – explosive passing – might hurt the Buckeyes, especially via short air-yard passes.
  • That quick passing game prevents many sacks. The Hoosier line has only given up 13 sacks, which is one more than the Buckeyes. The line is merely average in line yards and running back block success rate.
  • In explosive play margins, the Buckeyes are +47 and the Hoosiers are just +7 (while sixth overall in total offensive explosive plays). In turnover margin, the Hoosiers are -4 and the Buckeyes are +10. Not difficult to see why one team is 10-0 and the other is 4-6.

The thing is that the Hoosiers really could be a great team. They have an explosive offense that is led by a young quarterback, a line that doesn't give up many sacks, fairly interchangeable receivers (three players have over 500 receiving yards and four have more than 30 receptions), and a young defense. The sack leaders are almost all underclassmen defensive linemen, so there's room to grow. If only the defense could be half as good as its offense and Indiana could really be something. 

Unfortunately for the Buckeye strength of schedule, that's not the case. Expect lots of points, but hope the Buckeyes can keep the Hoosiers under 24 of their own.

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