Five misleading stats from the B1G in 2016
Ever see a statistic that shocks you a little bit?
Maybe it’s nothing jaw-dropping, but it gives you that “huh, I didn’t know that,” moment. If you were a fan of B1G statistics, you might have run into a few surprises at the end of the 2016 season.
But numbers don’t always tell the whole story.
So instead of taking some of those stats at face-value, we’ve dug a little deeper and investigated how some of these slightly surprising numbers came to be.
Here are just a few of the most misleading stats from the 2016 season in the B1G.
5. Ohio State’s red zone defense
The Buckeyes were really good at defending teams once they got in the red zone last season. Ohio State ranked second in the conference in opponent scoring percentage in that area, allowing teams to get points 72 percent of the time.
Ohio State’s defense was even better than that.
Of the 40 trips opponents made into the red zone, they scored just 29 times. On 14 occasions, the Buckeyes forced its opponent to settle for a field goal. The opponent’s TD percentage was at 37.5 at the end of the year, the best in the B1G and second-best in the country, behind only LSU.
4. David Blough’s conference-leading passing numbers
Blough took a huge step for Purdue last season, becoming the first quarterback to start for the entire 12-game slate since 2009. His reward? Leading the B1G in passing yards, TDs and completions at the end of the regular season.
He also led the conference in interceptions.
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On paper, it looks as though Purdue returned to its passing roots and was attempting to restore a more pass-heavy offense. There might be some truth to that, but in reality, the Boilermakers had to throw so much because they couldn’t run the ball.
Purdue ranked last in the B1G and 125th nationally in rushing, averaging just 96.2 yards per game.
It’s not really that surprising that Blough threw almost 50 more passes than any other quarterback in the conference.
3. Wisconsin’s second-best interception total
The 22 interceptions credited to the Badgers at the end of the season was tied for the second highest in the country. It was also slightly inflated thanks to a favorable schedule at the end of the year. Wisconsin picked off 11 passes in its final three games against Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota, grabbing one more than it had in its previous nine outings combined.
While Wisconsin proved to certainly be a force on the defensive end, they’re ability to defend the pass may have been slightly exaggerated thanks to the final stretch of the season. At the end of the year, the Badgers ranked sixth in the B1G in pass defense, allowing 202.4 yards per game through the air.
Paul Chryst would’ve gladly traded in an interception or two in those blowout wins to get a couple against Penn State in the B1G Championship.
2. Ty Johnson’s yards per carry average
With a 9.1 yards per carry average – the second-highest in the country – Johnson appears to be one of the most electric ball-carriers in college football. And in a hand full of games in 2016, he was.
But when you dissect that astounding average a little further, you’ll notice that Johnson may not be quite as good as the numbers indicate.
Johnson’s best outings came against the worst defenses in the conference. He rushed for 204 yards on seven carries against Purdue. He racked up 168 yards on 11 touches against Rutgers. And he eclipsed the 100-yard mark against Indiana and Michigan State, too. Take those games away, and the sophomore rushed for just 216 yards with a 3.9 average in the remaining eight regular season contests.
His best outing came in the Quick Lane Bowl against a good Boston College defense, amassing 159 yards and two TDs on 15 carries. That’s the type of outing that would gives Johnson’s sky-high average more credibility.
The sophomore took advantage of some opportunities, but he wasn’t shredding defenses on a weekly basis.
1. Pass defense rankings for Rutgers and Illinois
Illinois and Rutgers ranked 17th and 18th nationally against the pass in 2016, respectively.
No, seriously, they did.
The Illini surrendered 185.9 per game while the Scarlet Knights allowed an average of 186.5 on the year. Those totals put the two B1G bottom-feeders right behind the likes of Clemson, Washington and Georgia as the “best” against the pass.
Instead of throwing against Illinois and Rutgers, opponents found a great deal of success on the ground, as both teams got run over all season long.
Rutgers gave up 264.2 yards per game on the ground – last in the B1G and 126th nationally. Illinois’ numbers weren’t quite that bad, but even that is covered in a touch of makeup.
Illinois allowed just under 220 yards per game this season, but held Murray State to -10 yards on the ground in the season opener. If you omit that game, the Illini defense actually permitted an average of 240 per contest.
But hey, at least two teams that went a combined 5-19 last year have something to celebrate. I guess.