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Too Much Information: Georgia Bulldogs v. Arizona State Sun Devils

The weekly breakdown that we call "Too Much Information" evolved---some would say devolved---from a segment of the same name in "The Dawg Show," which aired on Henry County local cable access from 1999 to 2004. Each week, I provided a torrent of statistical and (more often) historical minutiae having no particular bearing on the matter at hand.

It was an amusing bit as far as it went, although it occasionally lurched uncontrollably into eerie prescience. For instance, the 1968 Bulldogs won the S.E.C. championship and finished the season with one loss, then, in the first road game of the following season, Georgia beat Clemson 30-0. I pointed that out in the 2003 season preview show, since the 2002 Bulldogs had won the S.E.C. championship and finished the season with one loss and the 2003 ‘Dawgs were to play their first road game at Clemson. I turned out to be right: Georgia won, 30-0.

In the show immediately following the 1999 Georgia Tech game, I pointed out that two previous Georgia squads had gone to bowl games following 7-4 regular seasons. Those two teams were the 1947 Bulldogs, who tied Maryland in the Gator Bowl, and the 1984 Bulldogs, who tied Florida State in the Citrus Bowl. Since the 1999 Bulldogs had gone 7-4, as well, I predicted a Georgia overtime victory in the bowl game before I knew either the bowl or the opponent. I turned out to be right: Georgia came back to beat Purdue 28-25 in extra innings.

Mostly, though, I was just tossing out miscellaneous data of interest but no real importance. I mention that because I went a little retro with last week’s Too Much Information and I’m doing it again this week, interspersing a handful of historical observations amid the various numerical comparisons. Why? Because Senator Blutarsky, Doug Gillett, and Paul Westerdawg have you covered on the actual analysis, so it falls to me to offer not a dash of data, nor a modicum of insight, but, rather . . . Too Much Information.

One of these days, we’re going to have to YouTube a few of the old "Dawg Show" episodes. In the meantime, for those of you who never saw it, think of it as "Wayne’s World" without the stoner/slacker mentality or the production values.

What do you need to know about the Arizona State game that you don’t know already? Consider these data:

  • Numerically, the Bulldogs and the Sun Devils are more similar than you may suspect. The Georgia O has picked up 62 first downs and averages 446.3 yards per game of total offense. The Arizona State O has picked up 65 first downs and averages 442.0 yards per game of total offense. The Georgia D has given up 55 first downs and allows 296.0 yards per game. The Arizona State D has given up 56 first downs and allows 295.3 yards per game.

  • Last Saturday, for just the fifth time in series history, the Classic City Canines scored exactly 14 points against South Carolina. In the previous four such seasons (1919, 1958, 1959, and 1996), the ‘Dawgs were 4-0 in games immediately following the showdown with the Gamecocks. Three of those four victories came by double-digit margins.

  • The ‘Dawgs are equally adept at moving the chains on the ground and through the air: Georgia has picked up 31 first downs via the forward pass and 31 first downs via either running plays (28) or penalties (3). The Devils are equally susceptible to surrendering fresh sets of downs on the ground and through the air: A.S.U. has given up 23 first downs on passes and 23 first downs on runs.

Offensively, though, the Sun Devils are explosive, thanks to a quarterback so accomplished that they made a movie about him.

  • The Bulldogs lead in the S.E.C. in total touchdowns scored (15) and offensive touchdowns scored (14). The Red and Black rank second in the league in rushing touchdowns scored (9) and passing touchdowns scored (5). The Classic City Canines have scored on all ten of their trips into the red zone and have come away with touchdowns on nine of their ten treks inside the opposition’s 20 yard line.

  • The last time the ‘Dawgs played a game west of the Mississippi River against a team from the Copper State, the result was a tie with the Wildcats in the 1985 Sun Bowl. Should that datum prove as prophetic as my aforementioned forecast of the 2000 Outback Bowl, it is noteworthy that the Red and Black are 4-2 in overtime games, including 2-0 under Mark Richt. I haven’t taken the time to check Dennis Erickson’s or Arizona State’s overtime records, but I know they’re 0-1 in the last week.

  • Although the Georgia offense has been criticized in the wake of the South Carolina game, the Bulldog O does not let up after intermission. The Red and Black have scored 115 points this season, notching 58 of them in the first two quarters and 57 in the second half. The Sun Devils, by contrast, perform distinctly differently after the break: Arizona State has outscored the opposition 60-20 in the first half this autumn, but A.S.U. holds a cumulative 31-30 edge in the last two stanzas in 2008 and has been outpointed 20-14 in the fourth quarter.

The Devils start strong but finish weak in Tempe, just like in the New Testament.

  • Arizona State, obviously, is a passing team: Rudy Carpenter leads the Pac-10 in passing yards per game (325.0), pass efficiency (183.6), and total offense (332.7 yards per game) and three of the league’s top ten receivers in yards per game are Sun Devils (Michael Jones, Kerry Taylor, and Kyle Williams). Nevertheless, A.S.U. strives for balance, having run the ball 95 times and thrown the ball 95 times this season, and four of the Devils’ six red zone touchdowns have come on running plays.

  • Despite the foregoing facts, Georgia is the markedly better team at running the ball and at stopping the run. Arizona State gives up very nearly as many yards per carry (3.6) as the Sun Devils gain (3.7), whereas the ‘Dawgs pick up more than twice as many yards per rush (5.6) than they permit (2.5).

  • You already know that Mark Richt is 32-2 against non-conference teams and is 26-4 in opponents’ home stadiums. What you might not know, though, is that Georgia has not followed up a win over the Gamecocks with an out-of-conference road loss since 1974 and no Bulldog squad has come out of the South Carolina game with an unblemished record and lost on the road to a non-league foe in the Red and Black’s next outing since a 7-6 loss to Yale at New Haven in 1924.

It would have been remiss of me not to have included a reference to our dear friend Herbert I. McDunnough, who met his future wife, Edwinna, in the county lockup in Tempe.

  • Rudy Carpenter has thrown four more touchdowns (6) than interceptions (2). Matthew Stafford has thrown four more touchdowns (4) than interceptions (0).

  • This is a weird detail of which I do not know what to make: Arizona State’s longest game was five minutes shorter than Georgia’s shortest game. I get why being on for-real big-deal T.V. made the Bulldogs’ showdown in Columbia last three and a half hours, but, given the extent to which the ‘Dawgs are a running team and the Devils are a passing team, shouldn’t A.S.U.’s longest game be longer than Georgia’s shortest game? Anyway, if the game starts to stretch beyond the three-hour-and-fifteen-minute mark, will the home team have as much left in the tank as the visitors?

There simply are too many variables in play to have any idea in the world what to expect. In addition to questions about the Georgia pass rush versus the A.S.U. offensive line, or the Sun Devil aerial assault against the Red and Black secondary, there are such essential immeasurables as how the ‘Dawgs will respond to playing so far from home for the first time since their head coach was in first grade and how the Devils will react after last weekend’s debacle against U.N.L.V. There’s just no telling. This ought to be fun.

My Prediction: Georgia 41, Arizona State 35.

Go ‘Dawgs!