The current forecast for Super Bowl Sunday is an almost balmy 38 degrees, with temps dropping to 24 by sundown and just a 10 percent chance of snow, according to weather.com. But those of us who live on the eastern side of the country know how weather can turn on a dime, and that "24 degrees with no snow" can turn into a 10-degree blizzard in no time. Either way, it's going to be a cold night in East Rutherford, N.J., and that's going to affect the ability of the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos to hold on to the ball.
Dr. Antonio Valdevit, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology, had a hunch that cold weather could affect the players' grip strength. So Valdevit wired special sensors to his middle finger and thumb, the two digits most crucial for gripping a football. He then measured grip strength on a regulation football against a "pulling force," or someone trying to strip the football away with constant force, at three different temperatures.
Valdevit's hands were tested eight times each at 68 degrees Fahrenheit, 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 4 degrees Fahrenheit. The result? While the thumb's gripping power was unaffected by the changes in temperature, the middle finger lost "significant" power, requiring almost three times as much force to hold on to the ball at 4 degrees than it did at the higher temperatures, according to results provided by Stevens.
There's no telling exactly how cold it will get in East Rutherford at 6 p.m. Sunday, but it's safe to say that gripping the football in MetLife Stadium will be tougher than it would be if the game were being played in Tempe, Arizona. Seattle's Marshawn Lynch has fumbled just three times this season, and Denver's Knowshon Moreno has fumbled only once. Holding on to the ball has not been a problem for either running back. Will it be a different story on Sunday night? Head over to Stevens website to get a little more info on the experiment.