Outback Bowl Preview By the Numbers

In part three of his preview series, Badgermaniac examines the Badger rushing offense relative to the Volunteer rushing defense in the 2008 Outback Bowl breakdown.

In today's analysis, I take a look at Wisconsin's rushing attack vs. the Tennessee rushing defense. Also note that sack yardage has been taken out of all the numbers. They will be included later in the analysis on passing offense/defense.

Badgers rushing offense:

Wisconsin averaged 43 carries per game for 214 yards for 5.0 yards per carry. Their opposition typically allowed 35 carries for 162 yards and 4.6 per carry.

Their best rushing games were against Northern Illinois (+115 yards, +0.8 YPC), Indiana (+122 yards, +0.9 YPC), and Minnesota (+103 yards, +1.2 YPC).

You will note that these games are not overwhelmingly spectacular considering that they are the best rushing games of the year. However, what is more amazing is that they really didn't have a truly bad rushing game all year long, displaying amazing consistency. The worst game of the year would probably be OSU, and even that was only –16 yards and –0.5 yards per carry.

Overall, they had "plus" rushing yards nine times and "minus" rushing yards just two times (the other game was Illinois, where they were just 4 yards under average). The Badgers were remarkably consistent, though rarely spectacular. They did average 0.4 more yards per carry than might be expected given the opposition, a solid but unremarkable number. Many of their extra yards simply came about via extra carries, due to being in the lead or because of a strong emphasis on the run.

Volunteers rushing defense:

The Tennessee defense allowed an average of 44 carries for 205 yards and a 4.7 YPC average on the season. Their opponent's average game was 45 carries for 235 yards and 5.2 YPC.

Their best rushing defensive games were against Southern Miss (-108 yards, -1.4 YPC), Georgia (-124 yards, -1.9 YPC), and Arkansas (-173 yards, -2.3 YPC).

Their worst rushing defensive games were against California (+68 yards, +1.2 YPC), and South Carolina (+53 yards, +0.2 YPC).

Overall, they had "plus" rush defense games ten times and "minus" rush defense games three times.

Unlike the Wisconsin rushing offensive performance, the Volunteer rush defense was a little more erratic. They had a few more moderately poor games, but their good games were REALLY good. Their raw rushing yards allowed totals are fairly high, leading some pundits to believe that their rushing defense has been weak. However, this is primarily a function of playing against some really really good rushing offenses. When you look at a stat like yards allowed per carry, they are 0.5 yards per carry under the norm, which is a pretty good figure.


As I have noted, the Badger offense has had success against just about everyone they have played this year. They haven't been great, but have been consistently solid.

Tennessee's rushing defense on the other hand has gone up against some top notch rushing offenses and statistically, has fared pretty well. They have been dominant in about a quarter of their games, and consistently good in most of the rest.

Overall, I expect Wisconsin to run the ball ok against Tennessee. They won't be able to run at will, but their consistency will prevent a total shutdown. (Though last year, I believe I said the same thing in previewing the Arkansas-Wisconsin game). However, I think the edge goes to Tennessee here, based on the possible upside. I think about 150 yards sounds about right, with maybe a 20% chance of less than 100.

Edge: Slight to Tennessee

Next: Tennessee rushing offense vs. Wisconsin's rushing defense

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