Game 1 Preview; Is Butler the Beginning of Something Big?
Finally, Its game week. This year Bison fans get four non-conference games before the meat grinder of Missouri Valley Football begins. Fortuitously, these games build in difficulty. The other thing about early season games is we don’t know how new (and potentially significant contributors) are going to factor in. Also, we don’t know how much a team is downgraded by losing key players from the year before. It’s a fun time of the season.
Butler comes out of the Pioneer League, a non-scholarship conference. Most recently we have played San Diego from the Pioneer League in our first playoff games in 2016 and 2017. We dispatched these well coached teams 45-7 and 38-3. Last year San Diego beat the Bulldogs 42-13. Princeton pounded them 50-7 and UND’s opponent for this week, Drake, beat them 36-6. They finished the year with 4 wins and 7 losses. How in h-e double toothpicks Youngstown State lost to this team last year is one for the ages.
No matter how much lip stick you put on a pig, it is still a pig. The same goes for Butler’s roster. Even in a good year, the depth and quality of talent isn’t a good match for the Bison. Very few on their roster would make our two-deep rotation. This doesn’t mean we don’t have to show up and play according to our ability, rather than play down to their ability (think Youngstown last year).
Butler suffered heavy roster losses from last year’s team. They lost a very good QB, who threw for over 2,600 yards (243.6 YPG), with a 61.4% completion average. They also lost their top receiver who garnered almost 1100 yards. More importantly they only return one starter each on the offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line will be at least 30 lbs. lighter than what we face in conference. Our Rams will outweigh their opponents by around 50 pounds per player. Think physics here. Force and mass are heavily in favor of the Bison.
What should we expect Saturday? I want to draw my summary from doing a historical look back on how we have done against similarly ranked teams as Butler. Those following my blog know I lean heavily on the Sagarin ranking system (there is a weekly updated link on my blog page). Sagarin ranks Butler the 249th team out of 256 Division I FBS and FCS schools. You can’t rank much lower.
In our run of greatness (2011 to present), we have faced 8 opponents ranked 220 and over with Sagarin. This is what has happened in these games. We have beaten St. Francis 56-3 (they scored a 4th Qtr. field goal), Robert Morris 52-0, Prairie View A&M 66-7 (a 4th Qtr. Score), Incarnate Word 58-0, Mo. State 55-0, Mississippi Valley State 72-7 (only such team to score in 1st half), Robert Morris again 56-0 and finally Indiana State in their 0-11 season, 52-0. Our average margin of victory has been 58.4 to 2.1. The total yards differential is 523 to 143.5. The rushing variance is 307.6 to 58.4. The turnover ratio is 25 to 5 in our favor. The sack totals go in Code Greens column 25 to 7. This is called total domination. Why do you think the first betting lines out of Vegas had the Herd a 49.5 point favorite?
This should be a great developmental game to begin the season. Since it is treated like a home game, we get to dress 80 players. If we play to our ability with focus, we should see the whole roster used including many true freshmen getting the first of four games with out losing their freshman status for next year. We couldn’t have a better match-up for new coaches, new QB, many new starters on both offense and defense. We will probably outdraw the Gophers in the twin-cities. That will help future recruiting.
Welcome to 2019 Bison Football!!
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