BCS title game: some stats never change

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 07, 2009



(Newsflash! Intrepid CHFF reporter John Dudley informed us that the woman of the hour is not Tim Tebow's girlfriend, as the trusty internet would lead you to believe, but busty British temptress Lucy Pinder. As Dudley noted in his own inimitable way, it's a case of mistaken iden-titties.)
 
There's no doubt that tonight's national title game combatants, No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Florida, are statistical juggernauts. (Speaking of jugg-ernauts, the bombshell in the picture is allegedly Tim Tebow's girlfriend.)
 
Between the two teams, they field two of the top three scoring offenses in football and combined for a stunning 99 points per game this year. It's also one of the very few meetings in college football history between Heisman winners, in this case 2007 winner Tebow of Florida and 2008 winner Sam Bradford of Oklahoma.
 
But after poring through their statistical performances (see all the data below) in preparation for the big game, we were most amused to see 1) the photo of  Tebow's hottie and; 2) an eternal truth of football ring out like a ship's bell amid a statistical fog:
 
Oklahoma and Florida lead the nation in turnover differential.
  • Oklahoma caused 32 turnovers (15 fumbles, 17 INT) and committed nine (two fumbles, seven INT) for a +23 margin.
  • Florida caused 33 turnovers (nine fumbles, 24 INT) and committed 11 (eight fumbles, three INT) for a +22 margin.
For all the eye-popping numbers each team has put up, the Sooners and Gators are here in the national title game for the same reason most teams win at all levels: because they force opponents into turnovers and don't commit turnovers themselves.
 
That's all well and good. But what's our call? It's easy: Florida wins, 37-30.
 
Here's why:
 
One - Oklahoma will struggle to stop Florida
The Gators are clearly the more solid all-around team. In fact, as you'll see in the data below, Oklahoma fans should be real worried as their defense as it goes up against one of the most exciting, and most efficient, passers in recent college football history. The Sooners defense is a real liability.
 
Florida steps into the contest with an offense that ranked third in the nation, scoring 45.2 PPG. Oklahoma tries to stop the Gators with a defense that ranked a mere 58th in the nation, surrendering 24.5 PPG.
 
Florida's Tebow also gets to pick apart a defense that would rank mere seventh in the SEC in Defensive Passer Rating and one that ranks 43rd nationally (117.1).
 
Tebow and the Gators should have little problem moving the ball through the air against Oklahoma. 
 
Two - Bradford has never faced a Florida-style defense
Oklahoma's Bradford, meanwhile, won the Heisman Trophy behind some gaudy passing numbers. But tonight he'll face what's easily the best pass pass defense he's seen all year, one that was second in the NCAA this year in both Defensive Passer Rating (94.2) and  interceptions (24). 
 
Three - Florida faces tougher competition
The other sign clearly in Florida's favor is the top-to-bottom strength of the SEC compared with that of the Big 12. Over the last two seasons, the Big 12 is 9-5 in bowl games. The SEC is a gaudy 12-4 ... and soon to be 13-4.
 
Four - Google "Sam Bradford's girlfriend"
Here's the really humiliating part for Bradford: if you Google images of "Sam Bradford's girlfriend" you get pictures of Tim Tebow and his girlfriend(s). Seriously, what kind of self-respecting Heisman Trophy winner does have photos of him cavorting with gaggles of hotties splattered all around cyperspace? That's gotta be pretty insulting.
 
But probably not as insulting as the treatment he'll get tonight from the Florida defense.
 
***
 
Here's how the two title contenders stack up in most major statistical categories among the 119 teams in 1-A football. The offensive figures are pretty close. But all the defensive indicators are clearly in Florida's favor.
 
You can see the original data here on the NCAA football website.
 
Turnover differential
Oklahoma -- +23 (1st)
Florida -- +22 (2nd)
 
Scoring Offense
Oklahoma – 54.0 PPG (1st)
Florida – 45.2 PPG (3rd)
 
Scoring Defense
Florida – 12.8 PPG (4th)
Oklahoma – 24.5 (58th)
 
Total Offense
Oklahoma – 562.1 (3rd)
Florida – 442.4 (17th)
 
Total Defense
Florida – 279.3 YPG (8th)
Oklahoma – 359.1 YPG (63rd)
 
Pass Offense
Oklahoma – 356.5 YPG (3rd)
Florida – 212.6 YPG (62nd)
 
Pass Defense
Florida – 174.0 YPG (16th)
Oklahoma – 253.1 YPG (98th)
 
Pass Efficiency – Offense
Oklahoma – 180.9 rating (1st)
Florida – 174.4 rating (4th)
 
Pass Efficiency – Defense
Florida – 94.2 rating (2nd)
Oklahoma – 117.1 (43rd)
 
Rush Offense
Florida – 229.8 (11th)
Oklahoma – 205.5 (18th)
 
Rush Defense
Florida – 105.3 (15th)
Oklahoma – 106.0 (16th)

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