Autzen Stadium: Will it Make a Difference for Oregon State?

The home team won ten straight. The road team has won the past two.

Does home field advantage in the Civil War really matter?

It's something that's starting to draw some attention as we rev up for the Civil War, especially by our friends over at Addicted to Quack

I think we can all agree that home field advantage is hard to quantify. As jtlight said in his post, there are so many other factors and variables that come into play. However, they think that the Autzen advantage will play a big roll this year because the Ducks are a much better team at home. The numbers prove it, as jtlight of AtQ shows.

For the sake of comparison, I've basically copied AtQ's math from the aforelinked post and applied it to Oregon State.

The Ducks are out-scoring Pac-10 opponents by 30 points per game at home. On the road, they're only scoring eight more points than their opponents per game. Furthermore, they're out-gaining Pac-10 opponents by 284 yards at home. On the road, that number drops significantly to 49 yards per game. And if you look at all of Oregon's away games combined, the Ducks giving up more yards than their offense is generating. 

For some reason, the Oregon team just performs differently at home, and it has Duck fans happy that the Civil War is at Autzen:

But, after Arizona, I'm very glad we don't have any more road games. On the road, something just seems, well, off. Both sides of the ball just simply are not the same. --jtlight

When you look at the numbers for Oregon State, you can see how consistent the Beavers have been at home and on the road. The scoring differential is right around three points. Take a look for yourself:

Picture_1_medium

Copying AtQ's model, here are the Sagarin ratings for OSU's opponents: 

Home: 183 (Portland State), 5 (Cincinnati), 22 (Arizona), 19 (Stanford), 37 (UCLA), 53 (Washington) 

Away: 95 (UNLV), 59 (Arizona State), 14 (USC), 20 (Cal), 118 (Washington State)

(For those of you looking for the raw, game-by-game statistics that were used to create this chart, that information is available here, with home games highlighted in orange.)

Like the Ducks, Oregon State's road schedule is slightly harder. Oregon State has had to play about half of the toughest Pac-10 games at home (Stanford, Arizona), and half on the road (Cal, USC). Throw in the game against Oregon which has yet to be played, and OSU's road schedule become significantly harder, tipping the scale. Still, Oregon State is playing slightly better on the road. 

But still, even when you step outside of analyzing what schedule is harder-- home or away-- the Beavers haven't suffered any let-downs on the road. For the most part, the offense has been playing the same from game-to-game-- and improving, for the most part. As has the defense. 

The biggest thing you can point to in the difference between the way OSU plays at home and on the road is rushing yards. Quizz has been shutdown more on the road than he has at home-- Cal held him to 67 yards, and Arizona State held him to 81. In the Cal game especially, this was because of the defense that was being deployed against the Beavers. Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory set out to stop Quizz and accomplished the goal, but Sean Canfleid had a hay day in the process. 

Other than that, and with exception to the Washington State game, the numbers have been consistent-- but the Beavers are ever so slightly better on the road. 

More than anything, I think this proves that the Beavers aren't going to have another let down this year against the Ducks. But we didn't really need to look at statistics to see that-- I think we can agree that the vibe surrounding this team is better overall than it was a year ago. Everybody's healthy. The pressure is lower-- OSU hasn't had the "you control your own destiny" monkey on it's back the past month. The Beavers should be able to play loose. 

Oregon State can win in Autzen. That was proven in 2007. 

But see, we still have a problem here: Oregon State plays to their average no matter where the game is. But Oregon plays above average at home. 

That's what the stats say, anyway. 

--Jake (jake.buildingthedam@gmail.com)

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