Week 1 2015- “Inside The Numbers”
South Carolina vs. North Carolina (neutral site)
Notes: South Carolina’s loss last season week 1 to Texas A&M. The loss snapped an 18 game home winning streak by South Carolina.
The Gamecocks finished the 2014 season with a -2 in turnover margin which ranked 73rd in the country. The offensive line struggled at times during the season and South Carolina allowed 27 sacks as an offensive unit last year. QB Dylan Thompson (59.9 % 26 TD’s 11 INT’s) moves on after a lackluster 2014 campaign and the team will need to replace running back Mike Davis who led the team with 982 rushing yards per game. As a team in 2014, South Carolina rushed for 161 yards per game which was 37 rushing yards less than the team’s 2013 output of 198.5 rushing yards per game. In four of the Gamecocks 6 losses last year, the team failed to rush for over 120 yards per game.
Defensively, South Carolina struggled with a very inexperienced group that started six sophmores in 2014. The Gamecocks gave up 30.4 points per game and allowed many big plays which put their offense in many come from behind situations. South Carolina allowed 212 rushing yards per game (105th overall) to their opponents along with 220 passing yards per game. More importantly, the defense allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete over 61% of their passes and the team struggled getting pressure with only 14 sacks on the season (118th).
Tar Heels New Defensive Coordinator is Gene Chizik
The Tar Heels allowed 497.8 yards per game which ranked 117th overall of 128 teams in the country. North Carolina’s offensive line allowed 28 sacks on the year which ranked 70th overall in the country. The Tar Heels defense was terrible on third downs last year allowing opponents to convert on 49% of the time. This stat ranked 122nd overall in the country. North Carolina failed to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and had 22 sacks overall (92nd in the nation). The team ranked 117th overall in rushing defense allowing 240 rushing yards per game to their opponents and gave up 257 passing yards per game. Of North Carolina’s 7 losses last season, the team allowed 523 yards per game to their opposition and allowed 46.5 points per game in those defeats.
Michigan vs. Utah
Notes: Utah beat the Wolverines in the “Big House” 26-10 last season.
New head coach Jim Harbaugh will bring a tough mentality to the Wolverines that was clearly lacking last season. While Michigan struggled offensively, the Wolverines had the 7th best overall statistical defense last year allowing a mere 311 yards per game. When looking at the Wolverine’s struggles as a team last year, the team was ranked 121st overall of 128 teams in turnover margin at -16. You cannot win ball games when turning the football over as much as Michigan did and expect to win. This number should dramatically increase in 2015 as Harbaugh is a disciplined coach that will preach ball security.
The Utes had one of the best defensive lines in the nation last year and led the nation with 55 sacks as a unit. Utah will lose defensive end Nate Orchard who led the team with 18.5 (school record). Many would think that playing in Salt Lake City would benefit the Utes, however, last season the team managed a 3-3 record in their home stadium. Last year, Utah compiled a 6-1 record on the road or on a neutral field site beating teams with a combined record of 40-35 (.533). Utah had a +5 turnover margin in 2014 and in the 3 losses at home to Washington State, Oregon and Arizona the committed a total of 9 turnovers in those games.
Wisconsin vs. Alabama (neutral site)
Notes: Alabama has won the last 13 opening games of the year by an average margin of victory of 24.1 points per game. The Crimson Tide’s last opening season loss was to UCLA in 2001.
Alabama was -2 in turnover margin and was minus in turnover margin for the first time since prior to 2008. Alabama finished the 2014 season allowing 104.1 rushing yards per game. However, against the stronger teams on their schedule the Tide’s defense gave up much more than their season average (Miss. St. 138, Tenn. 181, LSU 183, Auburn 174, Ohio State 281). Alabama struggled on the road or a neutral field site last year. Although the Tide compiled a 5-2 overall road record, the average margin of victory was 12.2 points per game compared with their 7 home victories with an average margin of victory of 30.1 points per game. This will be the second consecutive year that head coach Nick Saban will be starting the season with a new starting quarterback.
Wisconsin finished the 2014 season with the 4th best overall statistical defense in the country. The Badgers allowed 294 total yards per game, however, the team struggled in turnover margin with a -9 for the 2014 season (110th overall in the nation) . More importantly, Wisconsin struggled on the road or on a neutral field site with a -13 margin. All three losses last season came on the road or a neutral field site and in those three defeats, the Badgers lost the turnover battle 10 to 1 to their opponents (LSU, Northwestern and Ohio State). Wisconsin failed to pass for over 190 yards in those losses and ranked 118th in the country with 148.7 passing yards per game.
Stats courtesy of ESPN, CFBstats.com and NCAA.com
Joseph Lisi a former ABC Sports college football researcher, is the owner of www.GOFORTHE2.COM. He is a member if the FWAA (Football Writers Association Of America), Maxwell Football Club and is currently the content editor at www.2FiveSports.com. He contributes regularly to www.Sid-Rosenberg.com and has been a featured guest every Tuesday night from 10:30-11:30pm EST on Yahoo Sports Radio With Ken Thomson (www.sportsxradio.com).
Joe has been featured on the FNTSY Sports Network (Razzball Radio) and The Sid Rosenberg Sports Radio Show 640AM Sports (South Florida). You can follow him on Twitter: @Goforthe2.
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