Statistical Analysis: Comparing the 2013 Buckeyes to 2002 and 2006

AndyVance's picture
October 17, 2013 at 12:39p
23 Comments

Today's post about the offense not yet running full tilt, on all cylindars, got me thinking about how this year's team stacks up against some of the best Buckeye teams of days gone by, at least, during the Tressel era. Here's a recap from the front-page piece:

Ohio State ranks in the top 20 nationally in total offense and rushing offense. The Buckeyes have scored 36 touchdowns, average 493 total yards per game – 281 on the ground – and gain nearly seven yards each play. Yet, they aren’t clicking.

Let's do a little statistical comparison, comparing this year's squad to the 2002 team that went 14-0, and the 2006 team that lost to Coach Meyer's Gators in the national title game (yes, that national title game):

Year points scored total offense rushing yds/gm passing yds/gm
2002 29.3 (41st) 364.5 191.3 173.2
2006 34.6 (8th) 384.5 169.8 214.7
2013 46.8 (6th) 492.9 280.7 (10th) 212.2 (78th)

So it's probably true that the game has changed in the years since those teams took the field, but it's safe to say that when it comes to our offense, we aren't in Kansas anymore. Let's look at the Defense:

Year Points Allowed Total Defense Rushing Yds/GM Passing Yds/Gm
2002 13.1 (2nd) 320.9 77.7 243.1
2006 12.8 (5th) 280.5 98.3 182.2
2013 19.2 (24th) 326.2 86.2 240.0

On the face of it, as improved as our offense is compared to those two great teams of the Tressel era, the defenses are performing at a fairly similar level to the 2002 squad. That 2006 defense, on paper, looks absolutely amazing. In terms of yards allowed, the current squad through 6 games has actually allowed slightly fewer passing yards, while still being pretty dominant against the rush. Points allowed, obviously, is the bigger difference, allowing more than 19 points a game, while the two comparison squads barely allowed 13.

EDIT: Okay, reader Knarsci challenged me in the comments for not making this a true apples-apples comparison since the 2002 and 2006 stats included full, 14-game seasons, while the 2013 figures included only the first 6 games, against cupcakes. This is a fair criticque, so I went back and compiled game-by-game statistics using data from Sports-Reference.com to get data for only the first six games in each season. Here's the look at our offenses:

Year Points Scored Total Offense Rush Yds/Gm Passing Yds/Gm
2002 36.0 410.0 240.8 169.2
2006 32.8 386.7 151.5 235.2
2013 46.8 492.9 280.7 212.2

Looking at the same teams through six games, it's clear that the Ohio State of today is putting up more points and more yards of offense, but on a much easier schedule. The 2002 team faced Kliff Kingsbury's Texas Tech Red Raiders and a ranked Washington State team (along with Kent State, Cincinnati, Indiana and Northwestern), and the 2006 squad faced a ranked Texas Longhorns squad, as well as Iowa and Penn State (as well as Northern Illinois, Cincinnati and Bowling Green).

Here's what the defensive comparison looked like through six games:

Year Points Allowed Total Defense Rush Yds/Gm Passing Yds/Gm
2002 16.2 360.0 79.8 280.2
2006 9.3 300.7 118.0 182.7
2013 19.2 326.2 86.2 240.0

The first thing that jumped out to me is that the 2006 defense, through six games, was a brick wall. That squad didn't allow teams to score points - it held all but two of its first six opponents to fewer than 7 points, and allowed no one so score more than 17. Against the rush, the team was good, actually holding UC to a rushing total of -4, although that really swung the average - without UC, they allowed 142.2 yards per game.

Taking that into account, the current squad is maybe better against the rush, though not as good as the more consistent 2002 unit, though nowhere near as good at holding teams scoreless on drives as the 2006 squad. If you had that teams stingy goal line performance married to the 2013 unit's scoring ability, that lovechild might just be able to conquer the world.

Taken a step further, look at the team's performance minus the blowout against FAMU and perhaps we get a little more realistic interpretation of what this team has done thus far:

Year Points Scored Total Offense Rushing Yds/Gm Passing Yds/Gm
2002 (6gms) 36.0 410.0 240.8 169.2
2002 (full) 29.3 364.5 191.3 173.2
2006 (6gms) 32.8 386.7 151.5 235.2
2006 (full) 34.6 384.5 169.8 214.7
2013 41 470.8 259.2 211.6
Year Points Allowed Total Defense Rushing Yds/Gm Passing Yds/Gm
2002 (6gms) 16.2 360.0 79.8 280.2
2002 (full) 13.1 320.9 77.7 243.1
2006 (6gms) 9.3 300.7 118.0 182.7
2006 (full) 12.8 280.5 98.3 182.2
2013 23 375.4 93.4 282

Okay, again focusing on the defense, we can say that this team has been nowhere near as stingy through its first six games - not counting a hapless FAMU - as the 2002 or 2006 squads. They have, however, matched the 2006 team in shutting down the rush, and are about on par with the 2002 team through six games in stopping the pass.

View 23 Comments