If this season feels as if it’s totally flying compared to 2015, Nebraska fans, that’s because — well, it is.
According to team stats charted by the NCAA, the Cornhuskers have seen the Big Ten’s largest average drop in game length — hours and minutes — relative to last fall.
During a 6-7 campaign in 2015, the Big Red typically required three hours and 33 minutes, on average, to complete a game. This year, that figure’s down to 3:21, which puts Nebraska (8-2) tied for seventh in the Big Ten and playing the second-slowest games in the West division to Purdue’s 3:28 average length.
Maryland — the Huskers’ opponent in its home finale Saturday — has seen the second-largest dip in game length: six minutes shorter, on average, than the ones the Terrapins played in 2015:
On the flip side, Ohio State has jumped the most, adding 10 minutes per week, on average, to last fall’s typical game length. Penn State is seeing the next-largest increase, up seven minutes to 3:29 on average.
Indiana has led the league in average length of game each of the last two seasons — 3:37 in ’15, 3:36 this fall.
And, funny enough, prime-time kickoffs don’t seem to be much of a factor when it comes to adding to a game’s average length, at least according to the statistics. Nebraska has seen five night appearances over its first 10 games and the Huskers’ game lengths fall right at the league average.
Perhaps, more telling are the stylistic contrasts that mark the top and bottom of the aforementioned chart. The top four “slow-game” teams — Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue — all feature some kind of spread look as their base formation. Of the three schools that play the fastest tilts, two — Iowa (3:18) and Wisconsin (3:18) — lead with run-first, pro-style offenses and physical defenses.
Opposing teams have run just 621 plays on the Badgers, the second-fewest in the Big Ten to Michigan’s 599. Wisconsin also played the quickest games in the league last fall (3:12), followed by Northwestern (3:13) and the Hawkeyes (3:15). As if the faithful in Madison needed one more reason to jump the heck around.