Ohio State’s opponents are the least penalized teams in the country…at least on the day they play the Buckeyes. Unfortunately, that axiom has barely changed since 2004. I realize that some team has to occupy this dubious position each season but I struggle to come up with a rationale for it being Ohio State’s every time.
In its simplest terms, that table means that, on average, Ohio State opponent’s play the cleanest games in terms of penalties every year. Since this stat is not directly attributable to Ohio State, it begs the question why the outcome is the same each year (you could make an argument that a lack of aggressive play could contribute). Different players, different coaches, and different referees yet the results do not vary. I may be a shameless OSU homer but I find that statistic staggering.
The impact of this statistic is as murky as the cause. It would appear there are many, perhaps dozens, of first downs that, statistically speaking, other teams would have netted over the course of a season that never came the Buckeyes’ way. At least a couple of those non-calls could have occurred at crucial junctures in the games. I am hardly claiming that Ohio State has lost games because of this stat but it does make you wonder.
The numbers are even more interesting when you analyze the penalty yards of OSU’s most heavily penalized opponents on the day the played Ohio State:
|YEAR||TEAM||PEN. RANK||PEN Y/G||DELTA v. OSU|
Until last season, it had been four years since a heavily penalized OSU opponent exceeded their season penalty yardage average when playing Ohio State (N.C. State, 2004; and that was a triple overtime game).
What will this mean on Saturday? If the current trends hold, USC will be a heavily penalized team this season and the will come in far under or right at their (to be determined) season average. In other words, it will be business as usual for the Buckeyes.