Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Boise State Broncos: Who's Got the Better Offense?
This week Ohio State Buckeyes President Gordon Gee publicly stated that non-major conference schools TCU and Boise State do not deserve a shot at the BCS Championship game. Gee's charge was backed by the criticism that Boise State's schedule lacks the intensity seen in that of major conference schools.
Boise State President Bob Kustra responded that Ohio State's schedule has been nothing to brag about this season. With the BCS controversy expected to continue without a clear path to a change to a playoff system, verbal sparring between schools jockeying for position in BCS bowl games will only get worse.
The defenses of both schools have been dominant this season. Boise State ranks second in the NCAA in points allowed, while Ohio State ranks fifth overall. Therefore, it is fair to say that it is a wash or at least that both defenses are comparable.
Avoiding the confrontation of the different schedules (both teams have played or will play three ranked teams this season), let's take a look at which team has the better offense.
At the quarterback position, Boise State and Ohio State have two of the top players in college football in Kellen Moore and Terelle Pryor.
Despite the easier schedule, Moore has put together a strong case for the Heisman Trophy this season. The junior from Washington leads the NCAA in quarterback rating at 188.8, more than five points ahead of fellow Heisman candidate Cam Newton.
Moore's biggest asset has been his efficiency. Completing 71.8 percent of his passes, he is third in the NCAA in completion percentage, but has thrown for more than double the touchdown passes of first place quarterback Scott Tolzien. Additionally, Moore is first in all of college football with 10.4 yards per attempt. While Moore is only tied for fourth in touchdowns, he has the best touchdown-interception differential at 23.
Moore has been arguably more impressive than Ohio State's...
A preseason favorite as a Heisman candidate, Terelle Pryor has put together another solid season. Pryor is not amongst the best pocket passers in the NCAA, and his 2331 passing yards puts him outside the top 40 quarterbacks.
However, Pryor cannot be considered a failure this season. Pryor ranks within the top 25 quarterbacks in the country in quarterback rating, passing touchdowns, and completion percentage.
Additionally, Pryor adds another dimension with his ability to run and throw outside of the pocket. Pryor has 595 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground this season.
Winner: Kellen Moore
Moore has the advantage here. Pryor is better outside of the pocket, but Moore is the second best quarterback in the country this season outside of Cameron Newton.
Even most Buckeye fans would agree, Kellen Moore has the edge in this matchup, although some might disagree as to the degree with which Moore is better than Pryor.
Doug Martin and Jeremy Avery
Running backs Doug Martin and Jeremy Avery have been the driving force this season behind the 20th ranked Boise State running game. Martin has been receiving the majority of the carries with 152 touches to Avery's 68.
Martin has 938 rushing yards this season and has added nine touchdowns on the ground. His 6.2 yards per carry average places him 31st in the NCAA. While Martin is not much of a threat as a receiver and he only has 20 receptions on the season, his ability to hold on to the ball has led to zero fumbles this season for the junior.
Avery, a senior, has been the secondary running back this season. Still, he has managed to find pay dirt ten times this season on the ground, one more touchdown than the starter Martin. He is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and has been an excellent contributor when Martin is not in the game.
Dan Herron and Brandon Saine
Dan Herron has been the primary running back this season, while Saine has spelled him.
Herron has demonstrated huge overall improvement this season over his sophomore season. His yards per carry has jumped from a disappointing 3.9 yards per carry last season to 5.3 this year. While he struggle out of the gate this season, Herron has had two 100 yard rushing games over the last three games. Herron has also added 14 rushing touchdowns on the year, a number good for a tie in tenth place in the NCAA.
Saine has been effective when called upon, but he received the majority of his carries within the first three games of the season. In six games this season, Saine has received five or fewer carriers. When his number has been called Saine has been solid, totaling 304 yards on an average of 4.8 yards per carry.
Winner: Martin and Avery
This comparison is much closer than the quarterbacks; however, Martin and Avery have the edge. They have combined for more yards on the season, more rushing touchdowns, and have been much more efficient with the ball yielding more yards per touch on average.
Although if Pryor's ability to run is considered here, the Buckeyes would have the advantage. Still, while the overall rushing yards per game is 17th in the NCAA for Ohio State and 20th for the Buckeyes, once Pryor's numbers are taken out, Martin and Avery have a distinct advantage over Herron and Saine.
Titus Young and Austin Pettis
Wide receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis have been Kellen Moore's top targets this season. Young is 13th in the NCAA in receiving yards with 988. Amongst receivers with 50 or more receptions, Young is fourth in yards per reception at 18.0. Young's eight touchdowns have him on pace to match the ten touchdowns he had last season.
Pettis has actually had somewhat of a disappointing season and he is on pace to have fewer receiving yards and touchdowns as a senior than as a junior. After 14 touchdowns in the 2009 season, Pettis has only accumulated eight scores this season on 688 receiving yards. Still, Pettis is as good as a number two wide receiver as you will find in the NCAA.
Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey
Sanzenbacher and Posey have essentially been Terelle Pryor's only wide receiver targets this season.
The senior Sanzenbacher has been the more impressive of the two, accumulating 818 yards and nine touchdowns. Somewhat undersized at 180 pounds, Sanzenbacher is made up for it this season with numerous big plays. His touchdown numbers are inflated by a four touchdown performance against Eastern Michigan in September.
Posey, the one of the two with stronger NFL draft prospects, has seen a dip in his numbers from his sophomore to his junior season. A bigger receiver listed at 6'2'', 215 pounds, Posey can be quite difficult to cover at times due to his size. At 696 yards receiving and just five touchdowns, he has been disappointing this season but will likely improve next year as a senior.
Winner: Too Close To Call
Both teams have two solid receivers; however, neither team really stands out. Young, Pettis, Sanzenbacher, and Posey are unquestionably skilled and know how to get open, but it is too difficult to call.
Young and Pettis do have the advantage of a more accurate quarterback, but it would be difficult to say that either Sanzenbacher or Posey would really stand out if it was Kellen Moore heaving passes towards them. Plus, Terrelle Pryor is still a terrific quarterback who is actually quite accurate for a mobile quarterback.
Boise State has the overall advantage. At both the quarterback and running back positions Boise State has the more talented players, and wide receivers are a wash.
Ohio State can claim that schedule plays a major role in the lofty statistics accumulated by Boise State, but upon a closer look Boise State has played a decent schedule. Both teams have played three ranked opponents. While the Big 10 is easily a stronger conference than the WAC, teams like Hawaii and Fresno State have talented rosters as well. Considering that Boise State has steamrolled all of their opponents except Virginia Tech, they do deserve some credit for style points as well.
Hopefully, we will get to see what Boise State can do this year in a BCS bowl game, even if it is not the championship game.
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