Thursday, December 28, 2006

LIBERTY BOWL PREVIEW: USC OFFENSE v. HOUSTON DEFENSE

Now, we get to the Cock & Fire part of the Liberty Bowl: South Carolina's Steve Spurrier-guided offense against the defense of the Houston Cougars. No, I didn't copy and paste anywhere below; the teams' numbers are really that similar.

First, USC's offense. Statistics found here.

SCORING -- 302 points
PPG -- 25.2
1ST DOWNS -- 245 (99 rushing, 127 passing, by penalty)
RUSHING -- 1,687 yards (4.5 yards per rush, 140.6 YPG, 17 TDs)
PASSING -- 2,936 yards (224-360, 20 TDs, 12 INTs, 244.7 YPG)
TOTAL OFFENSE -- 4,623 yards; 385.2 YPG
RED ZONE -- 35/48 scoring, 73 percent; 27/48 for TDs, 56 percent

Now, Houston's defense. Statistics found here.

SCORING -- 285 points
PPG -- 21.9
1ST DOWNS -- 228 (95 rushing, 115 passing, 18 by penalty)
RUSHING -- 1,819 yards (4.2 yards per rush, 139.9 YPG, 16 TDs)
PASSING -- 2,589 yards (213-375, 17 TDs, 11 INTs, 199.2 YPG)
TOTAL OFFENSE -- 4,408 yards; 339.1 YPG
RED ZONE -- 32/41 scoring, 78 percent; 23/41 for TDs, 56 percent

The numbers can be looked at one of two ways.

First of all,USC should be able to do what it wants to do on offense. Houston gives up more first downs passing; that's where the Gamecocks get most of their conversions. They allow about the same percentage of TDs off red-zone possessions as USC scores.

But look at the numbers a little more closely. Houston gives up about 50 yards less per game than USC passes for every week. Total offense? Again, almost 50 yards less per game than USC. The rushing numbers are similar. So will USC's offense be slowed down?

Who knows? Again, this is primarily against Conference USA competition for the Cougars, SEC competition for the Gamecocks.

My guess is that South Carolina will be able to pass on the Cougars not at will, but pretty easily. The running game has progressed since the beginning of the season and was pretty darn good against Clemson.

EDGE to SOUTH CAROLINA

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