Howdy, and welcome back to Fun With Numbers. I’m going to apologize in advance for these things coming later and getting shorter every week. Real life is busy at the moment (I know, we’re all busy, I get it), and frankly, we’re not that good of a team. Which makes these less fun to write. But...
What do we know?
The Aggies host the Florida Gators at Kyle Field for the second time in three seasons, the third time since the Aggies joined the SEC. The Gators are 4-4 in 2022, coming off losses to LSU (45-35) and Georgia (42-20). The Aggies are a 3 point favorite in this matchup, the SP+ predicts a 6 point victory for the Ags, while the FEI predicts it to be considerably closer (the Aggies by .6 points).
Aggie offense vs Gator defense
By the DSP+, this is the second worst defense the Aggies have faced all season (behind the Razorbacks). They’ve held two opponents to under 26 points, Eastern Washington and Missouri, and have had their worst two performances yet against their most recent opponents. The Aggies have only scored more than 26 points against two opponents this season, Sam Houston and Ole Miss last week.
In theory, something has to give here. Can Weigman continue off of last week’s incredible performance? Will the Aggies finally be able to run the ball effectively with their super talented back field? I have no idea. Last week the offense showed signs of life, and if they can get out of their own way (eliminate penalties and stay aggressive with play-calling), I’d like to think they can continue to improve.
Aggie defense vs Gator offense
The Gator offense has not been super efficient, but has been more than capable of hitting big plays. QB Anthony Richardson is just okay as a passer, his legs are what make him super dangerous, and RB Montrell Harris is averaging over 6 yards/carry, both major concerns for a defense that got absolutely gashed on the ground last week by Ole Miss.
The Aggie defense has mostly been the team’s strong suit in a really bad season, but the offense’s inefficiency means they’ve been on the field A LOT (551 plays, 116th in the country) and it’s starting to catch up with the unit along with injuries and other issues. Tackling in space has to be better than it was the last two weeks, if the Aggies want any hope of clamping down on this rushing attack like Georgia was able to last week.
Nothing of note here, the Gators are 7/11 on field goals this season and their punter is averaging over 46 yards/punt.
Anything the numbers don’t tell us?
Neither of these teams are where they want to be at this point in the season. With the Gators being in their first year under Napier, it’s a little more understandable that they are 4-4, not to mention the fact that they are definitely through the toughest part of their schedule. A 4 game win streak to close the season could very well begin at Kyle Field on Saturday for Florida. The same could be said of the Aggies though. Both teams are also dealing with their fair share of injuries, illnesses (hello flu game), and suspensions.
What’s the verdict?
Here’s the thing, I think the offense may have started clicking (as well as it possibly can at this point) right as the defense is starting to lose steam. I don’t know that Durkin’s unit is built to stop a rushing attack like some of the other teams that handed Florida losses, the DL is still really young and the linebacking group is hit or miss. If they can rebound from that poor showing against the Rebels, and force enough passing down situations so that Richardson is throwing the ball 25+ times, then I think the Aggies can hold them to 24 points or less.
My Prediction: The Aggies stop the skid and cover 28-24, the Gators chew up a lot of yardage but Aggies redzone defense and Conner taking good care of the ball puts them out on top.
Thanks again for reading Fun With Numbers. Check out these links below if you’re interested in learning more about advanced stats in college football.
- FootballOutsiders.com for a solid compilation of all things related to football analytics.
- Bcftoys.com for Brian Fremeau’s FEI data and other fun projects from him.
- ESPN.com is the home for all of Bill Connelly’s SP+ info (as well as the FPI rankings). You’ll need to subscribe to ESPN+ for most of his stuff these days.
- CollegeFootballData.com is a great site for data and charts that you can download and play with on your own time, in case Fun With Numbers isn’t filling that statistical void in your life. Most of my data comes from here.
- SEC Stat Cat is another great site. Solid blend of statistics and football concepts.