Champs Bowl By the Numbers

In the final part of his Champs Sports Bowl preview, Badgermaniac breaks down the special teams and other leftover tidbits not already covered in anticipation of Saturday's clash between the Badgers and Seminoles.

If you missed any of the first three parts of the series, you can read them here:

PART ONE.
PART TWO.
PART THREE.

In today's analysis, I take a look at the Florida State and Wisconsin special teams and other miscellaneous numbers. And finally, he makes his game prediction.

Florida State Punting vs. Wisconsin Punt Returns

Florida State is 66th nationally in net average at 34.8 yards per punt, while Wisconsin is 48th in punt returns at 9.6 yards per return. Both teams are basically average. Gilreath can be elusive at times so... Advantage: Slight to Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Punting vs. Florida State Punt Returns

Wisconsin is 55th nationally in net average at 35.2 net yards per punt, while Florida State is 59th in punt returns at 9.0 yards per return. No real difference here. Advantage: Even.

Wisconsin Kick Returns vs. Florida State Kick Coverage

Wisconsin is 119th at 17.3 yards per return while Florida State is 48th in coverage allowing 20.4 yards per return with 8 touchbacks. FSU is no better than average, but it is hard to argue with dead last, Wisconsin's ranking in returning kicks. Advantage: Florida State.

Florida State Kick Returns vs. Wisconsin Kick Coverage

Florida State is 10th nationally at 24.7 yards per return while Wisconsin is 59th in coverage allowing 21.0 yards per return with 5 touchbacks. Badger kicker Phillip Welch has had trouble getting the ball into the endzone and FSU has been very dangerous on kick-off returns. This could be a big edge in hidden yardage. Advantage: Big to Florida State

Wisconsin 3rd Down Conversions vs. Florida State 3rd Down Defense

Wisconsin is 59th in the nation at 39.3% while the Florida State defense ranks 1st at 26.1% allowed. Wisconsin's figure is surprising given their success running the ball. I believe FSU's success is due to their good pass rush, indicating that Wisconsin absolutely had to be able to run the ball reasonably well on early downs. Advantage: Florida State.

Florida State 3rd Down Conversions vs. Wisconsin 3rd Down Defense

Florida State is 30th in the nation at 44.5% while the Wisconsin defense ranks 57th at 38% allowed. Florida State is a good running team, and despite their throwing problems, they have been solid in this regard. Given that many of the Badger defensive numbers look pretty good, this is actually a somewhat weak area. Advantage: Slight to Florida State.

Turnover Margin

Wisconsin ranks 85th nationally at -5 (22 takeaways/27 giveaways) while Florida State ranks 74th at -3 (23 takeaways/26 giveaways). Both teams are mediocre. Advantage: None.

Field Goal Kicking

Phillip Welch of Wisconsin is 18 for 22 for 82% while Graham Gano of Florida State is 24 of 26 for 92%. Both are good kickers and Welch has exceeded expectations for the Badgers. However, Gano's numbers are off the charts (and with a bigger leg). Advantage: Slight to Florida State.

Penalties

Wisconsin has been penalized 67 times for 591 yards. Florida State has been penalized 95 times for 852 yards. Penalties were a problem for Wisconsin early in the year, but they seemed to clean things up late. The same cannot be said for the Seminoles, who were one of the most penalized teams in the nation. Advantage: Wisconsin.

Time of Possession

Wisconsin ranks 22nd nationally at 31:20 minutes per game while Florida State ranks 24th at 31:20 per game. Advantage: None.

Wisconsin Red Zone Offense vs. Florida State Red Zone Defense

Wisconsin has scored on 86% of their red zone trips. They have scored 33 touchdowns (27 rushing and 6 passing) and 10 field goals for 5.2 points per possession.

Florida State has allowed scores on 74% of their possessions. They have allowed 18 touchdowns (10 rushing and 8 passing) and 13 field goals for 3.9 points per possession.

The Badgers have been very good in the red zone, but the Seminoles have been great. Advantage: Florida State.

Florida State Red Zone Offense vs. Wisconsin Red Zone Defense

Florida State has scored on 90% of their red zone trips. They have scored 28 touchdowns (19 rushing and 9 passing) and 16 field goals for 5.0 points per possession.

Wisconsin has allowed scores on 92% of their possessions. They have allowed 23 touchdowns (16 rushing and 7 passing) and 12 field goals for 5.2 points per possession.

FSU has maximized their chances, in part due to their stellar field goal kicking. Meanwhile, this hasn't been a great area for the Badger defense. Advantage: Slight to Florida State.

Overall Analysis

Most pundits and oddsmakers have pegged the Seminoles as a moderate favorite, and the statistical breakdown agrees with them. The Seminoles do deserve to be considered the favorite, even before things like a probable heavy crowd advantage.

From scrimmage, the teams are actually pretty close, with FSU maintaining only a small edge on paper. However, in the areas of special teams, red zone efficiency, and 3rd down play, they have a pretty prohibitive edge. It will be important for the Badgers to at least play neutral when it comes to these factors…no big kick returns, staying out of 3rd and long, making your "gimmie" field goals, and so forth.

Summary

Florida State Scoring vs. Wisconsin Scoring Defense: Florida State Edge
Wisconsin Scoring vs. Florida State Scoring Defense: Slight Wisconsin Edge
Wisconsin Rushing Offense vs. Florida State Rushing Defense: Wisconsin Edge
Florida State Rushing Offense vs. Wisconsin Rushing Defense: Florida State Edge
Wisconsin Passing Offense vs. Florida State Passing Defense: Florida State Edge
Florida State Passing Offense vs. Wisconsin Passing Defense: Wisconsin Edge
Wisconsin Special Teams/Misc. vs. Florida State Special Teams/Misc: Florida State Edge

Prediction

The big key for both teams is the running game. Both running offenses get an edge on paper, while both teams look to be dominant defending the pass. In particular, Wisconsin simply must control the FSU pass rush, and that comes via running the ball. If they do wind up in 3rd and long, don't be surprised if offensive coordinator Paul Chryst goes conservative in order to avoid the big play.

Defensively, FSU can be turnover prone throwing the ball, so Wisconsin has to put them in situations where they have to throw; again, an issue of controlling the run, which is easier said than done against the Seminoles. Also at issue may be the depleted status of the Wisconsin secondary/defense in general. Will they perform up to their norm?

When all is said and done, I think the Badgers need more good things to happen in order to win. They are capable, but the odds are longer than they are for the Seminoles. Wisconsin has played with, but not beaten teams of this caliber this year (I equate them with MSU/IA). Can they finally do it?

PREDICTION: Florida State 30, Wisconsin 21.


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