Friday, November 6, 2009

Comparing Rushing Offenses with the Women of Mad Men

Ok so you know how nervous I was in my last post about the Illinois game? While after looking at the stats for both teams, I am now 10 times more nervous. No really, I am. This is not a reverse jinx or something designed to butter up the Illini. Don't believe me? Just wait until you see the numbers. I am going to tell you right here and now that a win over Illinois will not come easily, and that a victory by any margin- be it by one point or twenty- will be well earned. I know we said don't let the records fool you with Purdue and Michigan State, and I'm going to say it again- this is NOT a 2-6 team we're playing, and they are much better and more dangerous than their record indicates.

That, or the Gophers are much worse than their record indicates because the stats for these two teams are eerily similar. Like if you didn't know the record before hand, you'd have trouble telling me which team had five wins and which had just two.

Total Offense
Minnesota: 316.3 yards per game (11th in the Big Ten)
Illinois: 371.6 yards per game (7th in the Big Ten)

Minnesota: 23.4 pts per game (10th)
Illinois: 18.9 ppg (11th)

Minnesota: 104 yards per game (11th)
Illinois: 197.5 (2nd- and 20th nationally)

Yards Per Carry
Minnesota: 3.4 (9th)
Illinois: 5.0 (2nd)

Minnesota: 212.3 Yds/G (7th)
Illinois: 174.1 yds/G (11th)

Pass Efficiency
Minnesota: 125.7 (7th)
Illinois: 109.3 (11th)

Completion Percentage
Minnesota: .553 (8th)
Illinois: .552 (9th)

First Downs
Minnesota: 136 (11th)
Illinois: 149 (10th- and they've played one less game!!!)

Third Down Conversions
Minnesota: 37.9% (10th)
Illinois: 39.5% (7th)

Sacks Taken
Minnesota: 23- 139 yds (9th)
Illinois: 26- 155 yds (11th)

Time of Possession
Minnesota: 27:55 (10th)
Illinois: 28:54 (8th)

Minnesota: 8 Fum-12 INT- 20 total 2.2 per game (9th)
Illinois: 6 Fum-8 INT-14 total 1.75 per game (4th)

Offensively, these teams are going about it in different ways, but are coming up with similar results on the scoreboard. Yes, our passing game is better than theirs, but their running attack is MUCH better than ours. If I can use a Mad Men analogy, our passing attack looks like Peggy Olson while theirs looks like Peggy's sister. But our rushing attack looks like Peggy's mother while their rushing attack looks like...Joan Holloway.

See the difference? Hello? Hey- are you still staring at these pics of Christina Hendricks? Or these? Are you? Ok well now so am wow...I...yeah, so...ok look we'll reconvene this when we're both done staring at her...good lord love my wife! I love my wife! I love my wife!

Ok then, are we back? Sort of? So if you can get past the size of her...I mean Illinois running game, you can see that this is a legitimate breast- I MEAN threat to the the Gophers. Despite their poor record the Illini have run the ball well all year, as they're second in the conference and 20th in the entire country. Believe it or not, they're better than Wisconsin. You know what? Since we're doing the whole Mad Men women comparison thing, let's just do the whole conference, shall we?

Michigan has the top ranked rushing attack but they're moody, whiny, are impossible to empathize with and are generally overrated- just like Betty Draper. Wisconsin is third but I think they're the one I'd take over any other- like Rachel Menken (who is the one Don should have taken over any other). Ohio State is only ranked fourth but are young and quite possibly the most dangerous and explosive of the bunch- just like Jane Sterling. Penn State is the Trudy Campbell of the conference (not spectucular and sitting middle of the pack, but consistently good every week. Also, I did not realize until last week she is also Annie in the new sitcom Community), Purdue is Helen Bishop (inconsistent, erratic yet can be SO enticing when they're on), Michigan State is Francine Hanson (not exciting and or particularily good and you know exactly what you're getting), Iowa is Peggy Olson (not exactly pretty but somehow effective), Indiana is Mona Sterling (boring and forgettable), Northwestern is Peggy's sister (I don't think I need to explain it), and Minnesota is indeed Peggy's mother (I think you get the idea).

Ok so what where talking about again? Oh yes, Illinois' Joan Holloway-esque running game. Well, unlike Wisconsin, there is not just one guy you have to stop. The Illini's top two backs, Mikel Leshoure and Jason Ford, each have at least 356 yards rushing and have yards per carry averages as big as Christina Hendrick's....well, you know. They're big. HUGE even. Leshoure averages 6.7 per carry while Ford averages a Dolly Parton-esque 8.7. And those two aren't even their top rushers- that would go to Juice, who has struggled as a passer but continues to be a nightmare for opposing defenses running the ball, as he leads the team with 529 yards and three TD's. A running quarterback is always a major headache for a defense to contain, and when you add in two solid backs (and maybe even a third as Daniel Dufrene has 220 yards at 4.9 a pop but seems to have dropped to third on the depth chart), well let's just say it's not going to be easy to stop their rushing attack.

I was going to all also show you all of the defensive statistics and how they don't really favor the Gophers at all and show you that once again they are eerily similar to Illinois. But let's be honest, you're probably still looking at the pics of the many fine women of Mad Men, so just take my word for it. Or go look for yourself. Illinois is NOT a crappy 2-6 team, but one to be taken seriously. The Gophers are going to have their hands full tomorrow with the Illini.

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