OUTBACK hype: Spartan vs Bulldogs, will it be third down conversions? The Enlightened Spartan: OUTBACK hype: Spartan vs Bulldogs, will it be third down conversions?

Monday, December 26, 2011

OUTBACK hype: Spartan vs Bulldogs, will it be third down conversions?

OK, the ES returns from his Holiday absence and is back for the attack, with the hype for what should be a GREAT game in the Michigan State vs Georgia Outback Bowl.  First off, the ES is NOT upset at the Big Green getting a fourth-tiered bowl game instead of a top-tiered BCS game.  Mind you, scUM is completely undeserving of such an accomplishment to give them a nod to the Sugar Bowl, considering how well and consistent the Spartans have played all year, including a 2-TD thumping of the roadkill earlier this year (Why not pick MSU vs Michigan? The Spartan Nation would have sold that out in an instant… but why watch the Spartans break Robinson and scUM’s bones again?).  That said, MSU had all the cards in their hands, and had a chance to win to go to Pasadena… at least we could play for it Spartan fans, we never had that chance in previous years.   Yes, baby steps suck. 

But, this is a BIG baby step. The Spartans need to use their heartbreaking loss to Wisky in the Big Ten title game and feast on Georgia in the Outback Bowl.  Defeating an SEC team on January 2 will be a big deal, especially the Dogs.

The ES pulled out his Phil Steele 2011 preview and first looked that bowl predictions:  Steele predicted a Spartan trip to the Gator Bowl and a Georgia trip to the Cap One bowl. Give Steele credit there, pretty close.   Steele also predicted Georgia to win the SEC East, and for the Spartans to tie Nebraska and win the B1G Legends.  So, Steele’s predictions come true, or at least within the ballpark.

About the Outback Bowl:  both teams come in with great defenses.  

Rush def
104 ypg (#12)
103 ypg (#9)
Pass def
168 ypg (#12)
165 ypg (#8)
Total def
273 ypg (#5)
268 ypg (#3)
Scoring def
18 ppg (#9)
20 ppg (#17)
3rd down conv def
Rush off
143 ypg (#76)
173 ypg (#40)
Pass off
248 ypg (#45)
241 ypg (#50)
Total off
391 ypg (#61)
414 ypg (#39)
Scoring off
31 ppg (#38)
32 ppg (#33)
3rd own conv off
Turnover difference
+ 0.54 (#23)
+0.54 (#23)

What is the biggest difference in the stats?  Third downs – UGA held its opponents to a lower percentage on third down conversions (29%) than did Michigan State (34%).  And, at 40%, the Spartan offense has been good on third downs, but far from the MOST efficient third down offense in the nation…  This is a concern for MSU, for its defense to be able to rise and make the plays in the most difficult situations – something it failed to accomplish late in the two games against Wisconsin….

That said, the ES is getting jacked for the Outback.  I’ll watch at the Peanut Barrell.  Check out the polls at the right… There will be more to come throughout the week.  But, this is a first start – GO GREEN!