Partiality can cloud any realistic view of a game, but frankly, I don’t care to put on my cardinal-colored glasses and get my expectations as high as I can get them only to have them dashed on the opponent’s goal line.
Don’t worry. The 2010 Liberty Bowl won’t be one of those occasions, and this one won’t be close. I had the same thought about Cincinnati and Florida last night, but I’ve written so much this week about Urban Meyer and Mike Leach that I wanted to give it a rest.
For Arkansas v. East Carolina, I decided to make things interesting. The two teams don’t have any common opponents to consider so I eliminated all of East Carolina’s losses, and to make sure both teams were into the swing of the season, I considered games after the first of October. East Carolina beat Southern Miss by 25-20, so I eliminated that game too. To make things even out, there was no reason to consider Arkansas’ games against Troy, Eastern Michigan, and Mississippi St. They really just padded the stats anyway.
Eastern Carolina’s best games this year are the ones I considered. They’re all Pirate victories:
The teams included from Arkansas’ schedule are:
Ole Miss 17-30
South Carolina 33-16
East Carolina blistered opponents for 41 points per game while holding opponents to 20 points per game. Arkansas on the other hand scored 29 points per game while giving up an average of 25 points per game.
In terms of total offense of EC’s listed opponents, each is currently ranked as follows:
That’s an average ranking of 48th. Overall, it’s pretty similar to the Total Offensive Rankings of Arkansas’ opponents who average a 51st ranking.
Ole Miss 42
South Carolina 76
EC’s defense would tend to show a little better than Arkansas’ but truly that’s deceptive because of what follows.
The sad thing is that ALL of East Carolina’s opponents in the considered games have total defense numbers ranked LOWER than Arkansas’ defense. As of today, EC’s listed opponents are ranked as follows out of 120 NCAA teams:
That’s an average of 108 ranking out of 120. Did I mention that these were all CONFERENCE opponents?
With that understood, the total OFFENSIVE ranks of all of the Conference USA Schools become suspect. To say that EC’s defense is better in any respect than Arkansas’ is a stretch.
It should go without saying that EC’s offensive production of 41 points per game as listed is suspect against defenses with an average rank of 108.
But the key to any game is the ability of one team to impose its will on the other.
Arkansas’ 29 points per game against the listed opponents is impressive.
Ole Miss 24
South Carolina 15
The current average ranking of these opponents is 24th.
Boiling it down, Arkansas put up 29 points per game against teams with an average ranking of 24th while EC scored 41 points per game against teams with an average total defensive ranking of 108th. Against Arkansas, EC is not 41 point offensive team.
In terms of total offense, Arkansas ranks 14th in the country and only Houston’s was purportedly better.
This game won’t be close. Arkansas will impose its will offensively on East Carolina and hold its own defensively.
I probably should have just reposted Arkansas v. Troy, Seriously? and called it a day.
A 21 point margin sounds about right.