The flourishing of advanced statistical analysis in sports, and college football specifically, has given us a whole new way of understanding the game. But not everyone has the skill or inclination to break down advanced statistics. I for example have what I call an adjacent urinals agreement with calculus. I don’t look at it, it doesn’t look at me, and we both keep moving.
Fortunately for ignorami like me this game is one which doesn’t require a lot of trigonometric jujitsu to understand. There are a handful of numbers you need to understand to get a feel for most college football games, including this weekend’s Georgia/Ball State clash. These are the numbers which I believe actually matter for Saturday.
44. That’s the number of points surrendered last week by Ball State to a Kentucky team not quarterbacked by Will Levis. Instead the Wildcats were led by something called a “Devin Leary.” My Bulgarian is rusty, but I think that means “a young man who peels bananas before eating them.”
Whatever it is it threw for 231, an un-Levis performance. In fact, that 44 points is a bit misleading, as Kentucky scored one touchdown on a kickoff return and another on this Jalen Geiger fumble return in which he was just running, the way Jenny told him to.
Absent those two plays Ball State did a decent job holding an SEC team replacing its NFL rookie quarterback. Good thing we’re not in that boat, eh comrades?
33. The number of rushing yards Ball State’s Marquez Cooper carved out on 15 carries last week against Kentucky. That’s a good bit less than the 90 on 21 attempts he rang up against Georgia last season when he was playing for Kent State. In fact the Cardinals only managed 72 yards on 41 rushing attempts against Kentucky, not a great number for a team looking to pull the upset. If the Cardinals can’t move it better on the ground against the ‘Dawgs (and I don’t think they will) they’re going to again have trouble moving the ball.
21.597. The number of students enrolled at Ball State. It has nothing to do with the outcome of this game, but it is about twice the number I would have guessed just based upon the frequency with which the school is mentioned in media and entertainment.
2. Where Georgia ranks in the SEC through one game in total offense (559 yards, staring up at Ole Miss which went for 667 yards against Mercer). This statistic is useful primarily to demonstrate that small sample sizes and idiosyncratic scheduling make drawing too many statistical conclusions a dangerous thing early in the year.
311. The average weight in pounds of the Ball State offensive line, biggish for the MAC but not for the modern SEC.
66. Total number of combined career starts for the Ball State offensive line coming into this season. Four of five players are back on that unit from a group that played well in 2022. Perhaps like the Bulldog OL they were still getting the kinks worked out in the running game in week one. Let’s hope they don’t get it rolling this weekend.
-42.5. The point spread according to Odds Shark. I have a hard time imagining the Bulldogs come out and win by more than six touchdowns in a noon kickoff against a MAC opponent, even one that’s a bit beat up from taking on a fellow SEC opponent last week. If I were a betting man I’d take the Cardinals and the points. I’m sticking by my preseason pick of 41-13 Georgia. Until later…