NCAA Football Analysis

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2015 College Football Bowl Primers: Heatin’ up

Reviewing today’s slate, which finally features a ranked team.

Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman: Pitt Panthers (8-4) vs. 21 Navy Midshipmen (10-2). 2:30 PM ET, ESPN

Much is being made of Keenan Reynolds. Can Pitt stop him?

It depends on how often they can get in the Navy backfield. Pitt has 37 sacks on the year, but still allow opponents to gain 4.1 yards per carry. They’ve also only recovered five fumbles this year, so they won’t dominate the turnover game. With typically weaker military linemen, it could be possible that Pitt shuts him down, but Navy has still succeeded against bigger schools. The answer is probably not.

Should I be more surprised about a ten win Navy team, or a non 6-6 Pitt team?

Probably the Pitt option. They’ve spent half of the previous decade at 6-6. It’s a miracle.

Should punting be an option in this game?

a) Punting should never be an option

b) No! Both teams are converting fourth downs at staggering rates of 85% for Pitt and 92% for Navy. Move those chains!

If Navy is forced to pass, who has the advantage?

It’s Navy! They’re not going to pass a lot, but they’ve found huge success when doing so.They average 10 yards per attempt, and 20 per catch. They average a touchdown every 13 plays, and an interception every 52. Pitt was also mediocre in the passing department, so this works out quite nicely for Navy.

Can you clumsily apply military metaphors to this game?

To win a tactical advantage, Pitt should consider a preemptive strike by a non stop volley of passes. They’ve only thrown six interceptions on the year, what many call a strategic rallying point. Operational victory.

Winner: Navy

Quick Lane Bowl: Central Michigan Chippewas (7-5) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-7). 5 PM ET, ESPN2

The two other 5-7 teams have won their bowl games. Does this mean good things for the Gophers?

No, because at least San Jose State and Nebraska were top sixty in more than two categories. Minnesota is ass at everything.

Surely, that can’t be true! Minnesota came within six points of TCU, and five points from Iowa, they have to be good at something!

I will grant that Minnesota did have a very tough schedule with nine of their opponents going to bowl games, but they also only beat Kent State, Ohio,  and Colorado State by three points. Their biggest victory was against Purdue. I’m willing to say that Minnesota would be an 8-4 team if they had a more average schedule, but their other victories are not quite as convincing.

For all their offensive flaws, Minnesota has to have some sort of defensive dominance, right?

Errr, try again. Minnesota’s defence plays well into the hands of the Chippewas. Minnesota allows 3rd down conversions at 41%, CMU converts at 44%. Minnesota allowed 38 touchdowns, CMU scored 39. Gophers picked off opponents nine times, CMU threw ten. It’s almost perfect!

And conversely?

It also works out well, in one department. Minnesota fumbled away the ball 11 times, CMU recovered 11 fumbles. That’s pretty much the only matching or similar stat. Otherwise, Minnesota has a minor offensive advantage. Despite their touchdown deficiency, Minnesota can go for a drive. They average 5.3 yards per play, but only score TDs on 52% of red zone trips. This game will be fun until Minnesota gets to the twenty. Then go for a snack break or something.

Winner: Central Michigan

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This entry was posted on December 28, 2015 by in Uncategorized.
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