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Advanced stats around the Big Ten: Week 4

It's an off week for the Buckeyes, so let's look around the Big Ten with three weeks of advanced stats.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The first Buckeye bye week is as good a time as any to look around the Big Ten at our conference brethren. While playoff dreams may be a little distant right now, the Buckeyes still have a good opportunity to contend for the Big Ten title. With the way that the B1G has played out conference this season that may not be too impressive, but there's still 3/4 of the regular season left for some redemption.

I've compiled some numbers for the B1G's contenders to see how they stack up with Ohio State. A couple of notes: the F/+, FEI and S&P+ numbers are rankings, while the last four stats are total numbers. Turnovers is short for turnover margin. Finally explosive plays are a combination of rushing and passing plays that gained 20+ yards.

F/+ S&P+ FEI Redzone TD % Opp. Redzone TD % Exp. Plays Opp. Exp. Plays Turnovers
18 17 17 69% 75% 16 5 0

The Buckeyes' numbers are well below what many expected during the preseason, but this snapshot does a pretty good job capturing where the Buckeyes stand right now. Redzone offense and defense has been lacking and definitely not up to Urban's standards. Likewise for the neutral turnover margin. Chris Ash was brought in to aid with a more aggressive defensive backfield that was poised to create turnovers. We haven't quite gotten there yet. And those two criticisms -- red zone offense and turnover margin -- are partly related, as Barrett currently has a bad streak of risk acceptance (and interceptions) when he gets near the end zone. The good news is that the Buckeyes have limited opponent explosive plays better than last season, averaging under two per game.

Michigan State

F/+ S&P+ FEI Redzone TD % Opp. Redzone TD % Exp. Plays Opp. Exp. Plays Turnovers
8 7 14 78% 60% 10 11 1

Michigan State is the likely front runner in the conference, but couldn't quite hang with Oregon for all four quarters. The Spartans surprisingly have over twice as many opponent explosive plays as the Buckeyes, but theta is likely due to the Ducks. The Spartans have been better on a per-play basis rather than in terms of possession efficiency. Finally, the Spartans have the only positive turnover margin of the group, which is frankly embarrassing.


F/+ S&P+ FEI Redzone TD % Opp. Redzone TD % Exp. Plays Opp. Exp. Plays Turnovers
23 29 20 78% 0% 11 5 0

Like the Spartans, Wisconsin just couldn't quite hold on for four quarters against their out of conference foe, LSU. The biggest issue for the Badgers has been the passing offense, which is evident in the low S&P+ ranking. The Badgers have been steady on both offense and defense, however, with the conference's best redzone TD percentage and opponent red zone TD percentage. In fact, the Badgers haven't allowed a single touchdown in the redzone while still only allowing five explosive plays. The neutral turnover percentage isn't helping much, but the Badgers are a dangerous team. Right now I'd say the Badgers have just as good a chance to beat the Buckeyes as the Soartans do.


F/+ S&P+ FEI Redzone TD % Opp. Redzone TD % Exp. Plays Opp. Exp. Plays Turnovers
27 25 27 75% 50% 23 10 -1

Many wrote the Cornhuskers off after their ugly come from behind win over McNeese State. Ameer Abdullah has absolutely carried this team and is responsible for the vast majority of the Huskers' 23 explosive plays. That's a very impressive number regardless of the competition. We'll learn a lot about the Huskers -- and Bo Pelini's job security -- this weekend as the Huskers take on Miami. This matchup is actually  one of the most interesting in the country because of how similar the F/+ stats are between the two teams.


F/+ S&P+ FEI Redzone TD % Opp. Redzone TD % Exp. Plays Opp. Exp. Plays Turnovers
35 24 44 80% 75% 16 9 -7

Michigan's numbers are surprisingly impressive for a team that was shut out embarrassingly by Notre Dame. The run game looks improved behind a young offensive line and with Greene and Smith utilized effectively. They lead the conference in redzone touchdown  percentage  and have generated a fair amount of explosive plays. Interestingly, their S&P+ ranking is much better than their FEI, which might be due in part to their poor opponent redzone touchdown percentage. They seem to allow opponents to finish drives fairly well. But what is really insane is their -7 turnover margin. It's hard to imagine any team winning many games with that poor of ball security.

All in all, the Buckeyes' slate looks fairly difficult still, even in a (perpetually) down Big Ten. While I think the Buckeyes will improve with Barrett's maturation and more experience for the young secondary, the rest of the Big Ten isn't far behind the Buckeyes.