Baylor vs. Texas - Statistical Preview

The Baylor Bears and Texas Longhorns meet for the 100th time on Saturday in Waco. Texas leads the series 72-23-4...but let's not worry about all of that. All I remember is a Baylor 30-22 win last year in Austin. I don't think Art Briles needs to be eating any worms to motivate the Bears on Saturday. A chance at the program's first 9 win season in 30 years will be more than enough motivation.

Below is a look at what Football Outsiders' Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), Bill Connelly's S&P+ statistics say about how Baylor & Texas have performed to date, and how the two teams' relative strengths and weaknesses will effect the outcome on Saturday afternoon.

Overall FEI S&P+ F/+
Baylor 41 23 46
Texas 30 21 18
Predicted Score Texas 28, Baylor 26 Texas by 4

According to both FEI & F/+, Texas is just a bit better than we are. I'm surprised both prediction systems think we'll lose though. I would have assumed that the HFA swing would make them spit out Baylor by 2 or something on those lines.

One thing to keep in mind when looking at all of the data below is that we have been a completely different team at home and on the road this year. Against FBS competition, we've scored 12 more points/game and allowed 8 fewer points per game at home than on the road or at a neutral site.

Baylor at Floyd Casey Stadium vs. FBS teams this year: 5-0, 48.2 points/game, 36.4 points allowed/game (against a schedule that on average this year allowed 25.9 points/game and scored 32.8 points/game)
Baylor away/neutral vs: FBS teams this year: 2-3, 36.8 points/game, 44.4 points allowed/game (against a schedule that on average this year allowed 33.48 points/game and scored 35.78 points/game)

After the jump, let's drill down a little deeper and look at how things should go on either side of the ball. The charts below show each team's respective rank in each category, rather than their raw metric total. For more information on any of the below metrics, go here for F/+, here for FEI, or here for S&P+. All of these metrics are courtesy Football Outsiders.

When Baylor is on Offense:

Baylor Offense Texas Defense
F/+ 3 3
FEI 1 9
First Down Rate 5 13
Available Yards % 3 13
Explosive Drives % 3 4
Methodical Drives % 4 40
Value Drives % 2 15
S&P+ 5 4
Rushing S&P+ 22 3
Passing S&P+ 4 8
Standard Downs S&P+ 4 10
Passing Downs S&P+ 10 2


One thing that I noticed this week that I've got to mention about the Baylor offense. Baylor's offensive FEI rating (drive-based numbers, adjusted for competition) is .800 - the next closest team is Wisconsin at .637. The gap between #1 Baylor & #2 Wisconsin is as big as the gap between Wisconsin and #10 Northern Illinois. For what it's worth, Baylor's offense has played the 48th toughest slate of defenses according to FEI.

Over at Barking Carnival, there's been some discussion about how Baylor hasn't played a defense quite like Texas. Part of this is true - Texas definitely has the best defense of any team Baylor has faced or will face this year. However, Oklahoma State is 6th in F/+, 3rd in FEI, 19th in S&P+, and Oklahoma is 13th in F/+, 12th in FEI, and 7th in S&P+. Before you start thinking those are heavily strength of schedule influenced - according to FEI, Texas has played the 30th toughest slate of offenses, Oklahoma State 20th, Oklahoma 27th (I'd be interested to see where OSU and OU would rank if you took Baylor out of the equation for each of them; obviously, they'd be lower, since by that metric Baylor has the top offense).

I sound like a broken record if you read our Oklahoma preview, but a huge key to this game will be explosive drives (drives that average 10+ yards per play). Baylor's been 3rd best at generating them, Texas has been 4th best at preventing them. If I had to guess, I'd think Texas is going to set up their defense to try and prevent long scores. They won't bite on playaction as bad as some other teams have this year (ahhem... Texas Tech) because as you see above, their front 7 is pretty well equipped to handle the run by itself. I don't think Kendall Wright or Tevin Reese is going to be running 20 yards free of anyone in the secondary on Saturday like they have in some other games this season. We'll look further below at "explosive plays" - I think it's a really interesting topic to dive into given how these two teams profile.

However, as good as Texas has been at preventing explosive, quick strike scores, they've allowed a pretty average number of Methodical Drives (drives of 10 plays or more). Basically, teams that get a first down against Texas (as you can see above, they force 3 and outs at a high level) can move up and down the field on them. Broken record, but Baylor puts together long drives at an elite level. This fact probably fools your mind a bit, as if you only watch ESPN, all you see is Robert Griffin III throwing 60 yard touchdown passes (and he's thrown a fair bit of them).

Finally, Texas has been absolutely elite defensively on passing downs (2nd and 8 or more; 3rd/4th and 5 or more), but they've been merely great on standard downs (everything else). Conversely, Baylor's offense is elite on standard downs, but merely great on passing downs. Baylor has to turn 1st and 10s into 2nd and 6s and 2nd and 2s at a high level to win this matchup.

When Baylor is on Defense:

Baylor Defense Texas Offense
F/+ 97 67
FEI 87 75
First Down Rate 110 81
Available Yards % 111 84
Explosive Drives % 118 63
Methodical Drives % 81 73
Value Drives % 105 77
S&P+ 78 77
Rushing S&P+ 68 45
Passing S&P+ 67 109
Standard Downs S&P+ 94 65
Passing Downs S&P+ 49 94

Let's get one thing out in the open straight off the bat - Texas did not "solve" any quarterback issues last week against A&M. Case McCoy may have gained some confidence, but he was still only 16/27 for 110 yards (59.3% completion, 4.1 yards per attempt [which is awful, in case you didn't know]). A&M's defense is decent, but they aren't as good as the unit the Aggies ran out there last year, and I don't think anyone would confuse them with the wrecking crew. One thing that strikes me as a teensie bit unsustainable is Case McCoy's 105 passes without throwing an interception. Regression to the mean is going to happen over the long term - I'd be thrilled if he started his interception regression journey on Saturday.

So what is Texas great at on offense? Really...nothing. They run the ball well, but with Whittaker out, Bergeron hobbled, and Malcolm Brown allegedly at full strength, it's not the full bulldozer attack they were able to ride to some close wins early in the season. Texas really struggles to throw the ball (barely squeaking out of the bottom 10 in the country by S&P+), and Baylor's pass defense has just been barely below average this year (I'm as surprised as you are, but keep in mind that Big 12 teams, and Baylor's future conference rival TCU, can really fling it). K.J. Morton and Joe Williams have both trending in positive directions this year, and they both played decently well the last two weeks in particular.

I will point out that one thing Texas has done decently well is generate some explosive plays (Again, more on this below). A lot of them have been trick plays, but a long touchdown on a trick play counts the same as any other touchdown. Guess who's the 3rd worst team in the country at giving up explosive drives? Waiting. Yes. Baylor. All of the jersey shenanigans with Texas Tech aside (and to be honest, I'm not really sure why people were so focused on that... if they had done one of their fire drills and brought the backup QB wearing his regular jersey with 2 other new receivers, I'm not sure Baylor would have even noticed he was on the field), Baylor got caught looking very silly on the end-around pass. In some respects, that may be a blessing, because Baylor's coaches have a great teaching point for their players this week.

As great as Baylor's offense has been on standard downs, Baylor's defense has been horrible. Texas is basically your average, run of the mill FBS team on standard downs offensively. However, Baylor's defense is at least in the top 50 on passing downs, whereas Texas is near the bottom of the rankings. Baylor's defensive gameplan is pretty clear. Baylor has to commit to, and be successful at, stopping the run in 1st and 10, 2nd and 6 type situations and force Texas into 2nd and long and 3rd and medium to long. If Baylor does that, they're going to be pretty successful defensively. Texas just isn't built to beat you on 2nd and 3rd and long all day.

Special Teams:

Baylor Texas
Special Teams Efficiency 112 8
Field Position Advantage 110 44

Blech. I'm not going to spend any more time griping about Baylor's special teams. Texas is really good on special teams, but missing Fozzy Whitaker (who returned several kickoffs for touchdowns earlier in the season) probably hurts them a bit. Quandre Diggs / Jaxon Shipley / D.J. Monroe / Marquise Goodwin / whoever the heck else they run out there have plenty of speed, to be certain, though. Justin Tucker is a big asset for Texas - they're going to miss him when he's gone. Fortunately, his dead-eye proficiency in the placekicking department is countered with inconsistency with the rugby punt.

Baylor will lose the special teams battle on Saturday, I just hope it doesn't get them beat.

Explosiveness, further visited:

In light of some general comments this week made by Blake Gideon and other Longhorns about how their defense hasn't given up a TD pass longer than 20 yards this season (which is obviously true, and I don't dispute), I decided to take a further look at big plays made and given up by both Texas and Baylor this season. The charts below show what percentage of snaps a team either gained or gave up 10 or more, 20 or more, 30 or more, or 40 or more yards this season. The data below is courtesy CFBStats.com.

Note that these are raw numbers, not opponent adjusted. That being said, both teams have now faced all 8 common conference opponents. Texas played Rice, BYU and UCLA in non-conference play; while Baylor played TCU, SFA, and Rice. So each team has 9 common opponents, and Baylor playing a stronger TCU team and an awful SFA squad probably balances out TCU's mediocre BYU/UCLA slate (According to FEI Baylor's Offensive/Defensive Strengths of Schedule are ranked 48/24, Texas's are 49/30 ).

Baylor Offense vs. Texas Defense:

OVERALL 10+ % Rank 20+ % Rank 30+ % Rank 40+ % Rank
Baylor O 25.5% 4 9.0% 4 4.7% 4 2.8% 3
Texas D 15.1% 9 3.4% 3 1.4% 9 .7% 16


RUSHING 10+ % Rank 20+ % Rank 30+ % Rank 40+ % Rank
Baylor O 17.3% 9 3.9% 40 1.4% 57 .6% 77
Texas D 8.0% 7 1.9% 22 .9% 35 .5% 43


PASSING 10+ % Rank 20+ % Rank 30+ % Rank 40+ % Rank
Baylor O 36.3% 3 15.7% 2 8.9% 2 5.7% 2
Texas D 22.4% 19 5.0% 2 1.9% 5 1.0% 14


I'm going to keep my comments on these charts brief, just a few notes here:

  • I'm kind of trying to address a confusing concept here, but there are some teams that have a big percentage of plays that go over 10 yards, then there's a big dropoff at 20 yards, etc - you can see this effect with Baylor's run game. Baylor has done a nice job popping of 10+ yard runs, but they are nothing special in generating longer runs. I think the cause is obvious - Terrance Ganaway is a guy who runs hard and hits the hole, but he just doesn't have home run speed.
  • The opposite is true of Baylor's passing game - they generate a big chunk of 10 yard passes, but many of those are 20 yard passes, and many of those are 30 yard passes, and so forth and so on. Baylor's ability to hit long passes this year has been remarkable, especially when you can think anecdotally of several games where Robert has missed a wide open receiver deep downfield by a few feet.
  • Texas's run defense is kind of the opposite of Baylor's rushing offense - they're elite at preventing 10 yard runs, but if you get to the second level, there's a pretty decent chance you might be running for a while. Perhaps this has something to do with Manny Diaz stacking guys in to play the run - if you hit the second level and there's not a deep safety, someone's going to have to catch you from behind.
  • Oddly enough, Texas's pass defense is merely very good at preventing 10 yard passes, but they do an exceptional job of preventing you from getting any further. Blake Gideon might be on to something here. My conclusion is that their secondary does a great job wrapping up and tackling receivers in the open field, and further, that quarterbacks just haven't had enough time in the pocket to sit and wait for a receiver to spring free 30 yards downfield. Their numbers are even more impressive when you consider that they aren't opponent adjusted. That being said, OU and OSU have some great receivers, but I believe that Baylor has the best 1-4 group in the conference. This is going to be a great matchup to watch.

Baylor Defense vs. Texas Offense:

OVERALL 10+ % Rank 20+ % Rank 30+ % Rank 40+ % Rank
Baylor D 20.4% 73 7.1% 93 3.6% 106 1.8% 92
Texas O 18.6% 82 6.1% 65 2.5% 68 1.6% 42


RUSHING 10+ % Rank 20+ % Rank 30+ % Rank 40+ % Rank
Baylor D 12.8% 62 3.7% 75 2.4% 107 1.2% 96
Texas O 15.5% 21 3.9% 39 1.2% 71 .6% 79


PASSING 10+ % Rank 20+ % Rank 30+ % Rank 40+ % Rank
Baylor D 31.0% 89 12.1% 106 5.2% 91 2.6% 95
Texas O 23.8% 102 9.9% 60 4.8% 38 3.4% 17


A few more brief comments here:

  • I'm surprised to see that Texas has a similar rushing profile to Baylor - I thought they had hit more home runs in the running game. Unfortunately, if Baylor's defense gives up a 10 yard run, it very well might be a 40 yarder.
  • Keep in mind, again, these numbers aren't opponent adjusted. Baylor has up a lot of big plays in the passing game, and they've come in all varieties, 10 yards, 23 yards, 35 yards, 72 yards - but Baylor has also played some of the best passing offenses going this year (Again - Texas has played all of those teams but TCU, which makes their numbers that much more impressive).
  • Texas's passing profile is really interesting - they're far below average at generating 10 yard passes, but their rank increases as plays get longer. Again - they have hit several big 40 yard+ trick plays for touchdowns and big gainers this year. They might catch Baylor with its pants down on one of those, but benching Mike Davis (their best deep threat) for Miles Onyegbule makes me worry a little less about getting beep deep in the traditional fashion. Again, I do not feel too threatened by Case McCoy. Maybe he'll prove me wrong.

Prediction

If you'd made it this far, you know the following - Texas is elite defensively, and pretty average to bad offensively. Baylor is elite offensively, and bad defensively. I happen to think Baylor will play Texas to a draw when Baylor has the ball. Texas will pressure Griffin, get some sacks, and force some 3 and outs, but Baylor will get 31 points or so.

I don't think Texas can score 31 points on Baylor offensively, as banged up as they are. I think there are other ways Texas can get to 31, but I'm going to count on RGIII and co. to protect the football and get the Bears a close win over Texas for the 2nd year in a row.

@Baylor 31, Texas 24
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