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Mizzou-Nebraska: Beyond the Box Score

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I may have posted the BTBS 'box' yesterday, but there's still plenty to discuss. Let's look back at last week's preview and see how things shook down.

Nebraska's 46% success rate is pretty solid; Mizzou's 58% success rate (60% in close games) is ridiculous.

Nebraska: 39.7% success rate, 40.9% while the game was close
Missouri: 56.9% success rate, 56.3% while the game was close

So NU held Mizzou a smidge below its season success rate...but still couldn't stop the big play. Meanwhile, NU didn't have nearly enough offensive consistency.

If you can force Nebraska into passing downs, they're not able to complete them as well as they did last year, back when Marlon Lucky was alive.

Nebraska: 6-for-22 on passing downs. They were 5-for-11 passing (2 successful passes to Nate Swift, 2 to Todd Peterson, 1 to Menelik Holt) with 1 sack, and they were 1-for-5 rushing.

They were 2-for-4 in Q1 (that's when the two passes to Swift came), 4-for-18 the rest of the game.

Nebraska is a Q1/Q3 team. They gameplan well offensively, and they backslide a smidge once the gameplan runs out and they actually have to adjust.

Nebraska Offense

Q1: 50.0% success rate / 0.42 PPP / 0.924 S&P
Q2: 30.0% success rate / 0.18 PPP / 0.484 S&P
Q3: 37.5% success rate / 0.15 PPP / 0.522 S&P

And the game was over in Q4.

They really did gameplan pretty well, with the rollouts and such, but once Mizzou got comfortable (which didn't take long), it was over fast.

Mizzou's offense is disgustingly consistent from Q1 to Q3. We hear a lot about Mizzou's "fast starts", but a fast start suggests a fall-off. They start fast and stay fast.

Missouri Offense

Q1: 61.5% success rate / 0.70 PPP / 1.320 S&P (skewed by Maclin's long TD)
Q2: 50.0% success rate / 0.40 PPP / 0.903 S&P
Q3: 72.7% success rate / 1.23 PPP / 1.953 S&P

So a slight dropoff in Q2, but only to 0.903. That's still good. I do find one thing ironic, though: remember how NU's coaches bragged about the fantastic gameplan they'd put together? Well Mizzou was unbelievable in the "gameplan" quarters (Q1/Q3). That's some good coaching by Nebraska, huh?

The game could be made or broken on third downs.

Mizzou on 3rd downs: 77.8% success rate / 1.487 PPP / 2.264 S&P
Nebraska on 3rd downs: 63.2% success rate / 0.391 PPP / 1.022 S&P

Nebraska was a little too successful on 3rd downs for my taste, but while they were just barely converting (0.391 PPP), Missouri was breaking the Points Per Play chart (1.487). Again, S&P is a lot like OPS in baseball--anything over 0.900 is pretty good. A 2.264 S&P is "Barry Bonds in the 2002 World Series" good.

(Correction: Barry Bonds only put up a 1.994 OPS in the 2002 World Series. My bad. The Missouri offense on third downs was better than Barry Bonds in the 2002 World Series.)

Key Players: Nebraska

Every receiver besides Nate Swift

Roy Helu Jr. (RB): 4 catches, 50% success rate, 2.80 EqPts
Ryan Hill (TE): 2 catches, 0% success rate, 0.02 EqPts
Menelik Holt: 5 catches, 80% success rate, 5.45 EqPts
Mike McNeill (TE): 2 catches, 100% success rate, 1.72 EqPts
Todd Peterson: 7 catches, 100% success rate, 2.86 EqPts
Dreu Young (TE): 1 catch, 100% success rate, 0.68 EqPts

TOTAL: 21 catches, 76.2% success rate, 13.52 EqPts


Nate Swift: 5 catches, 80% success rate, 4.40 EqPts.

Not nearly enough from him. Carl Gettis strikes again.

RB Marlon Lucky

Marlon Lucky: 14 carries, 1.61 EqPts, 0.401 S&P - WORTHLESS. I feel vindicated.

DE Zach Potter

Zach Potter: 3.5 tackles, 3.0 successful - 85.7% success rate, 0.868 defensive S&P (Defensive Success Rate - PPP = Defensive S&P). Oh yeah, and 1 helmet-to-helmet penalty worth 0.84 points.

DT Ndamukong Suh

Ndamukong Suh: 4.5 tackles, 4.0 successful - 88.9% success rate, 0.780 defensive S&P, 1 noteworthy loogie.

Both Potter and Suh played rather well, though they both made more notable contributions to the game outside of the stats. And neither came up with a sack. And it should also be mentioned that only 4.0 of their 8.0 tackles came when the game was actually close.

Key Plays: Mizzou

RB Derrick Washington

Derrick Washington (rushing): 14 carries, 57.1% success rate, 1.348 S&P
Derrick Washington (receiving): 2 catches, 100% success rate, 2.327 S&P

Derrick Washington (TOTAL): 16 touches, 62.5% success rate, 1.470 S&P

I'll just say this: Derrick Washington is possibly the most underrated RB in the country right now. He's putting up numbers like this on a weekly basis, he's scored 12 TDs, and he's averaging 7.5 yards per carry. Seriously, Chase Daniel's already the Heisman favorite at the moment, but if Washington weren't so darn proficient at getting into the endzone, Daniel might have another 5 or so TD passes (or rushes) to add to his resume!

OT's Elvis Fisher & Colin Brown

Nebraska: 0 sacks
Missouri offense w/Chase Daniel at QB: 58.7% success rate, 0.69 PPP, 1.272 S&P

Nebraska's attempts at getting past Elvis Fisher and Colin Brown: MASSIVE FAIL.

DE Stryker Sulak

Stryker Sulak: 2.5 tackles, 100% success rate, 0.966 Defensive S&P, 1 forced fumble worth 5.05 points.

Sulak brought his A-game again, but he was outplayed by his counterpart...

Tommy "Perpetually Underrated" Chavis: 4.5 tackles, 100% success rate, 0.980 S&P, 1 sack, 1.5 tackles for loss

FS William Moore

William Moore: 4.0 tackles, 0% successful, 1 TD-preventing pass break-up.

Moore's stats certainly suggest he's not 100%, but he still came up with a huge play and a couple hard, he's the one who flushed Ganz out of the pocket, leading to Christopher's pick six.


I guess we should have known what to expect when a) Nebraska scored only 14 points in the first three quarters against San Jose State and b) Virginia Tech (which scored only 27 against Western Kentucky) put up 35 in Lincoln. In the end, it's not a 100% worthwhile experience delving into the box scores of blowouts, but I'll say that's a pretty nice problem to have.

Look for an MU-OSU BTBS Preview on Thursday, and I'm still intending to write a) an updated BTBS glossary and b) a look at the BCS statistical leaders at some point. We'll see when that happens.


Also, I haven't been doing a good job of whoring these recently, but if you're interested in catching up on my Varsity Numbers pieces at Football Outsiders, here they are:

Varsity Numbers #1: NCAA Analysis 101
Varsity Numbers #2: Six Missing Points
Varsity Numbers #3: The '+' Concept
Varsity Numbers #4: Leverage, Leverage, Leverage