Our weekly look at the Football Outsiders' advanced metrics takes a bit of a hiatus this week, as South Alabama (1-1) was an FCS school last season and thus does not have statistics available. Of the 4 factors (explained here) we have been tracking from last season (FEI, OFEI, DFEI, and STE), 3 will be available for the 2012 season starting in week 7, though FEI, meaningless as it might be after 2 weeks, is up now. That stat likes N. C. State (1-1) thanks to its solid schedule strength so far. The Wolfpack rank 31st in FEI while the Jaguars are 119th out of 124 FBS schools after losing to UTSA and struggling to get past FCS doormat Nicholls State.
Looking at rate stats from 2012 so far, this would appear to be a matchup of similarly struggling squads. The Jaguars 4.25 yards per play ranks 117th in the FBS, while the Pack have slogged along at 4.4 yards per play (112th) on the young season. The rushing game is largely to blame, as State has managed a non-sack-adjusted 2.37 yards per rush (115th) so far, and SOAL is not much better at 2.88 (107th). The Jags are 97th in points per game (20.0), and the Pack are a dismal 106th (15.5). But rate stats do not tell the whole story. State's numbers were compiled against UConn (currently ranked 3rd in the FBS in total defense) on the road in nasty weather conditions and Tennessee (currently 51st in total defense) in a "neutral" but really hostile Georgia Dome. SOAL's ugliness has been compiled against a schedule that would make any team this side of Florida State blush, so comparing the teams' respective futility is really an apples and oranges exercise.
If Mike Glennon can take the lemons of his first two weeks and turn them into lemonade, the Wolfpack should enjoy a second comfortable victory over the Jaguars. Behind the best game of Glennon's career (17-for-20, 274 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, 266.1 QB rating), State cruised to a 35-13 win over SOAL last year in Raleigh. Jags signal caller C. J. Bennett is not the guy you want at the helm trying to lead a comeback. Bennett completed just 54.9% of his throws last year while getting picked off 17 times compared to just 7 touchdowns. His abysmal QB rating of 108.88 from last year shows just how bad Glennon has been this year. State's senior signal caller is 98th in the FBS with a Bennett-esque 107.8 rating so far, but his fortunes should change under sunny skies Saturday evening in Raleigh.
State will crack 30 points for the first time this week, and as the lead grows, forcing SOAL to open up the playbook, look for the ball-hawking State secondary to salt the game away with a pick or two. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. and the game can be viewed on ESPN3.