Oaken Bucket Watch, Week 2

Week 2 has come and gone, and we’re starting to flesh out these IU and Purdue teams. Before checking out who’s got the edge after Week 2, take a look at how they compared after the Week 1 here.

Now onto what we learned from last weekend’s performances.

Purdue certainly faced a more superior opponent in Cincinnati. The Bearcats defense was strong last season, allowing only 222.2 passing yards and 103 rushing yards per game. Purdue managed to put up 401 passing yards and match the Bearcat average at 103 rushing yards.

Here’s how those numbers compare.

Despite nearly doubling Cincinnati’s defensive passing average, Purdue killed themselves on turnovers. The Bearcats defense caught a total of 5 interceptions, 3 of which came from one player, S Mike Tyson.

Purdue’s defense couldn’t make up for their offense’s mistakes, recording zero turnovers. Five to zero. We don’t need a graph for that.

Finally, more than half of Purdue’s points came in the fourth-quarter, when Cincinnati had already assured themselves a victory. To make matters worse, Cincinnati outscored Purdue in that quarter, too.

Another major killer was Cincinnati’s third-down efficiency. The Bearcats converted nearly 62% of third-downs, keeping the Boilermakers from turning their strong passing game into actual points.

Purdue ended up losing 20-38.

Indiana failed to put up any offensive points until the fourth-quarter in Week 1 against FIU. In Week 2, IU had the exact opposite problem against Ball State. All of IU’s 30 points came in the first three-quarters, with none coming in the fourth.

Ball State had a poor passing defense last year, allowing 278.8 yards per game, but performed relatively well against the run, allowing only 137 yards per game. IU matched Ball State’s defensive passing numbers, throwing for 266, but ran for a little more at 187.

Let’s see how those numbers stack up.

IU sub-par performance against a passing defense as poor as Ball State is likely due to the loss of Simmie Cobbs Jr., their leading WR in 2015. Without Cobbs on the field, WR Nick Westbrook and Mitchell Paige had to step-up. Westbrook accounted for 133 yards on just 3 passes, while Mitchell Paige accounted for 76 on 6. Cobbs could be out for quite a while after sustaining a severe ankle injury, so these receivers and others will really have to up their game.

On the ground, the Hoosiers saw consistent performance from RB Devine Redding, who totalled 110 yards over 26 carries. RBs Mike Majette and Devonte Williams contributed as well, accounting for 57 and 32 yards, respectively.

Defense was the weak-point for Purdue this week, but was once again the savior for IU. The Hoosiers held the Cardinals scoreless through the first half, and allowed only a single field goal in the third-quarter.

The defense created somewhat of a scare in the fourth, allowing 17 unanswered points. However, these points would have been only nominal if IU’s offense hadn’t shut down itself in the fourth-quarter. DB Marcelino Ball also came away with an interception.

The final score was a close victory for IU of 30-20, but IU dominated in all but the fourth-quarter.

Here’s what we can conclude:

The offensive advantage still goes to Purdue. I know, I know, they hardly scored any points, but neither did IU, really. Purdue faced a much stronger defense and still put up 400+ passing yards. They were held back by turnovers and third-downs, but with IU now missing their leading receiver and failing to score in their own right, Purdue has the edge at this point.

The defensive advantage still goes to IU. It feels weird writing that but seems undeniable as of yet. The Hoosiers continue to shut down opponents in the passing game, and they’ve held their opponents to 7 or fewer points in all but one of their eight quarters so far. The one caveat is that their level of opponent has been on the low end. We’ll have to wait and see if the Hoosier defense holds up against superior competition.

Purdue has the potential to score big but failed to capitalize against a strong opponent. IU’s offense still has questions to answer, but their defense looks better than ever, giving the Hoosiers the slight edge two weeks in.

Check back in after Week 3 to see if IU’s offense gets on track and if Purdue’s can turn yards into points.

Evan Brown

Sports Analytics and Business at Indiana University

Stats Couresy of ESPN and Teamrankings.com


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