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By the Numbers: The Rose Bowl

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And a Happy New Year to you all - what better way to start than with some stats for USC and Illinois as you're trying to clear your head for the Rose Bowl? Exactly.

I'm not convinced that there's much merit to a numbers-based preview of the Rose Bowl, since USC and Illinois had no opponents in common. However, I've been reading a fair bit about the Illinois offense and the challenges that running QBs like Isaiah "Juice" Williams pose, so I thought I'd set out the pictures of their respective seasons in summary.

I'm taking it as read that Mendenhall is a good running back and that Benn is a standout WR (the fuss here in DC when he committed to Illinois was significant for something not involving the Skins). What's included in the stats is Willams' performance. So, without further ado, Illinois' 2007 game results:




Offense

Defense



Opponent
Result
Passing
Rushing
Passing
Rushing
Other Notes
QB
Missouri
L, 40 - 34
316
119
359
70
ToP 30:37, TO -5
Williams 59 passing, 11 rushing
Western Illinois
W, 21 - 0
123
277
71
81
ToP 30:33, TO -1
Williams 123 passing, 16 rushing
Syracuse
W, 41 - 20
130
378
223
63
ToP 29:46, TO push
Williams 97 passing, 90 rushing
Indiana
W, 27 - 14
98
288
263
134
ToP 31:48, TO +1
Williams 98 passing, 32 rushing
Penn State
W, 27 - 20
120
216
298
129
ToP 33:27, TO +2
Williams 120 passing, 37 rushing
Wisconsin
W, 31 - 26
121
289
392
127
ToP 25:58, TO +2
Williams 121 passing, 92 rushing
Iowa
L, 10 - 6
150
137
182
141
ToP 25:34, TO -1
Williams 98 passing, 41 rushing
Michigan
L, 27 - 17
116
137
228
115
ToP 25:11, TO +1
Williams 70 passing, 17 rushing
Ball State
W, 28 - 17
145
324
167
170
ToP 31:01, TO -3
Williams 145 passing, 99 rushing
Minnesota
W, 44 - 17
207
448
242
95
Top 30:22, TO -1
Williams 207 passing, 133 rushing
Ohio State
W, 28 - 21
140
260
156
180
ToP 33:00, TO +3
Williams 140 passing, 70 rushing
Northwestern
W, 41 - 22
220
321
310
69
ToP 38:30, TO push
Williams 220 passing, 136 rushing

Total
1886
3194
2891
1374



Average
157.17
266.17
240.92
114.5



And then, USC:



Offense

Defense



Opponent
Result
Passing
Rushing
Passing
Rushing
Other Notes

Idaho
W, 38 - 10
206
214
155
98
ToP 32:34, TO -2
Booty
Nebraska
W, 49 - 31
144
313
389
31
ToP 29:02, TO +1
Booty
Washington State
W, 47 - 14
302
207
183
64
ToP 33.02, T.O. - 1
Booty
Washington
W, 27 - 24
236
224
90
100
ToP 34.51, T.O. -1
Booty
Stanford
L, 23 - 24
364
95
149
86
ToP 32.08, T.O. -4
Booty
Arizona
W, 20 - 13
130
146
233
22
ToP 33.06, T.O. +1
Sanchez
Notre Dame
W, 38 - 0
235
227
117
48
ToP 30.15, T.O. +2
Sanchez
Oregon
L, 17 - 24
277
101
157
182
ToP 30.59, T.O. -1
Sanchez
Oregon State
W, 24 - 3
187
100
85
91
ToP 29.34, Push
Booty
Cal
W, 24 - 17
129
239
199
200
ToP 30.19, T.O. +1
Booty
Arizona State
W, 44 - 24
375
133
243
16
ToP 30.46, T.O. +1
Booty
UCLA
W, 24 - 7
206
231
156
12
ToP 37:50, +2
Booty

Total
2791
2230
2156
950



Average
232.58
185.83
179.67
79.17



Thusly, numbers.

What stands out about all of this is the Illinois player I didn't mention: Rashard Mendenhall. His yards per game are verging on the ridiculous - multiple 200 yard games, for realz? Williams doesn't have crazy yardage but he doesn't seem to need it.

The other interesting things about Illinois? They aren't necessarily hampered by shorter time of possession or turnovers - which suggests a certain resilience. And perhaps more importantly, they don't seem to win games where Williams picks up fewer than 100 yards in passing and 50 yards of rushing, even if Mendenhall is running wild.

As for USC, the key distinction I think is in average rushing yards allowed per game - just shy of 80 - against the Illinois average of 266 per game. Something's got to give there.

I took a look at the Scouts preview, and the crux of their thinking was that while Illinois has a lot of talent on offense, they haven't tried to play against a defense that is as highly ranked as USC. The speed of the defensive line against the run and in passing routes could match well against Mendenhall - who is more of an up-the-center runner - while flushing Williams to the perimeter (his strength in running) for Maualuga et the other linebackers to tackle. Otherwise, they suggest that Arrelious Benn will be up against a zone-coverage secondary because left to single coverage / his own devices he could wreak havoc.

As for Illinois' defense, they are strong against the run but really only have one standout in the secondary, CB Vontae Davis. Even though Turner is possibly out, Hazelton and Ausberry were showing enough improvement towards the end of the season that Illinois will have to do more than tee off on Fred Davis.

So, with all that... I'm loath to predict scores, and I think the Scouts prediction of a 38 - 17 win for USC is selling Illinois short. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see SC win it by 7 to 10 points. Illinois is being compared to Oregon and other teams with running QBs, but the numbers don't tell the story of them being Dennis-Dixon-in-October-Ducks. Still, USC has to pay attention from the first play of the game because complacence / arrogance will put them in a hole - not for the first time this season.