One-third of the way through the 2012 season, we have a decent statistical sample size on No. 21 Mississippi State, which is 4-0 heading into its off week. It’s not the best sample size, especially considering only one of the four games was against SEC competition. But there are some telling numbers nonetheless.
I’ve waded through the stats and found a few notable trends. Thought I’d share a handful of them with you here. We’ll break it up into three categories: Offense, defense, special teams/other. Enjoy.
• MSU has attempted no more than 29 passes in a game and is averaging 28.0 attempts. Last season it threw 30-plus times on six occasions, going 1-5 in those games.
• MSU has had no fewer than 35 running plays in a game and is averaging 36.5 carries.
• First downs for the season: MSU 78, opponents 82. For the last two games: MSU 32, opponents 51.
• MSU’s third-down conversion rate is 35.3 percent, and the by-quarter breakdown presents a big contrast. In the first and fourth quarters combined, MSU’s rate is 11.4 percent; in the second and third quarters, it’s 53.8 percent.
• MSU has scored on 12 of 14 trips into the red zone, with 10 touchdowns and two field goals. That touchdown rate of 71.4 percent ranks fifth in the SEC.
• MSU has forced at least three turnovers in each game and leads the NCAA with 15 takeaways. It has recorded at least two interceptions in each game (has nine total).
• Opponents are 18 of 54 (33.3 percent) on third downs, which ranks eighth in the SEC. By quarter: 28.6 first, 35.3 second, 27.3 third, 41.7 fourth.
• State has recorded 19 tackles-for-loss. Nine of those came against Auburn, the other 10 against the three non-SEC foes.
• Opponents are averaging minus-0.2 yards per punt return, which ranks second in the league.
• Of the 22 penalties committed by MSU, 13 have come in the first half, and seven have some in the first quarter.