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January 4, 2011

The Cotton Bowl - LSU vs. Texas A&M (Part 4)

It's Tuesday. There are 2 minutes left in the first half of the Sugar Bowl and Ohio State is killing Arkansas.  Come on Arkansas, represent the SEC West.  Ohio State cannot be that much better than Wisconsin or Michigan State.  Maybe the infamous five Ohio State players that will be playing their last college game until mid-season next year are playing inspired. Who knows?  Who cares? This has nothing to do with the monumental battle coming up this Friday between the Fighting Texas Aggies and the Fighting Tigers.  So, let's talk about the much more interesting game between my two college teams.

I have been digging through the statistics of the Aggies and the Bayou Bengals that might want to checkout on the College Football Statistics website.  In my quest for better analysis of this years Cotton Bowl that you will not find anywhere else I will dive into some of the stats from these two teams and try to find some meaning that may impress your less well informed friends.  

First, let's be clear that these statistics are like comparing apples and oranges because these two teams played very different schedules.  Still, both teams played some pretty good teams.  Both teams played Arkansas which, judging the first half of the Sugar Bowl,  may or may not be a consistently stellar team.  Texas A&M beat Texas Tech 45-27, Oklahoma 33-19, and Nebraska 9-6.  LSU beat Mississippi State 29-7, Florida 33-29, Alabama 33-29.  All six of these teams played in bowls and only Nebraska lost.  Five other teams that LSU played in the regular season played or will play(Auburn) in a bowl game.  Texas A&M played four other bowl participants during the regular season.  While it is accurate to say that LSU had a tougher schedule, both teams played solid schedules. So the stats may provide some pretty good insight.

First let's look at the defenses.  Both LSU and Texas A&M have very good defenses.  

Forced Fumbles - LSU forced 17 fumbles this year.  True freshman backup cornerback Tyrann Mathieu tied Senior defensive lineman Drake Nevis for the most forced fumbles by a Tiger this year.  Both forced 3 fumbles which means that 11 fumbles were forced by other Tiger defenders.  Eleven different Tigers force a fumble this year.  Texas A&M forced 15 fumbles this year.  Freshman defensive lineman Demotre Moore tied Senior Vonte Miller for most fumbles forced by and Aggie.  Both forced 3 fumbles which means that 9 fumbles were forced by other Aggie defenders.  Ten different Aggies forced at least one fumble this year.  How much closer can you get? When you dig just a little deeper you discover that 14 of the fumbles force by the Tigers were against teams that played in a BCS automatic qualifying conference, while only 9 of the Aggies forced fumbles were against teams of that same caliber.  The Aggies only forced 4 fumbles all year against teams ranked in the AP.  The Tigers forced 7 fumbles by teams rank in the AP.  The number of turnovers forced by a team is a really important statistic and it appears that LSU has been slightly more successful at forcing fumbles against quality teams.

Interceptions - The other major component in turnover margin is interceptions.  LSU has racked up 16 interceptions and A&M has 15 interceptions this year.  LSU has 12 ints and A&M has 11 ints against BCS automatic qualifiers.  LSU has 9 ints and A&M has 6 ints against teams ranked in the AP poll.  Dustin Harris and Coryell Judie lead the Aggies in interceptions with 4 and 3 interceptions respectively.  Morris Claiborne and Patrick Peterson lead the Tigers in interceptions with 5 and 4 interceptions respectively.  9 different Tigers have at least 1 interception this year.  8 different Aggies have at least 1 interception this year.

In the category "turnovers"  LSU has only a razor thin edge over the Aggies.

If  you look at other major defensive statistics for these two teams you will find similar result.  For example: 11 different LSU Tigers have contributed to 32 total sacks by the Tigers.  11 different Texas Aggies have contributed to 28 total sacks by the Aggies.

These two defenses should be competitive Friday night.  Which defense steps up will definitely play a major role in which team wins this epic battle.  On paper, these two defenses look very similar. It will be interesting to see how they perform in the Cotton Bowl.

The fourth quarter of the Sugar Bowl is about to begin and it looks like the Hogs may be about to redeem themselves.  Go Hogs!


Anonymous said...

Pore Arkansas is still trying to clean off the fowl dust from the SWC..Did you ever see so many dropped passes in you life???
The Hog needs more SEC years to get it right..That was a fun college football game to see on TV.
The LSU tigers will play better football and bring back the honor of the SEC to America again.The Cotton Bowl will even be more fun.

Texas Tiger said...

It should be an epic battle in the 2011 Cotton Bowl. A&M was definitely on a roll to end the season, but this is over a month later and really a new season. Both teams are very good no doubt. However, I believe that when LSU has 2 or more weeks to get healthy and prepare for a game, we are unstoppable (with the exception of the "mud bowl"). I think in the end, LSU will win a close one that will be a lot of fun to watch.

Geaux Tigers!!!!

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