Hypothetical Matchup: Baylor Bears vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Part Deux

Jamie Sabau

A little under 3 weeks after the first iteration, we're back with the second Hypo Matchup between two teams with fanbases at each other's throats: Baylor and Ohio State.

When first we looked at this, the purpose was purely academic. I wanted a look at Baylor vs. whoever we might play in a hypothetical playoff scenario, should we make it, so I put the Bears up against both Ohio State and the Alabama Crimson Tide (the two links go to the separate posts). The threads were pretty popular and the discussions worthwhile. Now we're back with an entirely different purpose: the third-ranked team could get a chance, should one of the top two fall, to play for the Crystal Football. That's something worth arguing about.

A Few Notes:

If you're an Ohio State fan or someone who hasn't seen my stats posts before, I already know the labels in the EDGE column are totally arbitrary. I've tried to tailor them a bit in recent weeks, but I still haven't found a good way to do this.
EVEN = 10 or fewer ranking spots difference
Lowercase = 40 or fewer ranking spots difference
UPPERCASE = 40 or more ranking spots difference.

2013 FootballOutsiders Metrics for the Baylor Bears vs. the Ohio St. Buckeyes.

Overall:

Category

Baylor (9-0)

Ohio State (10-0)

EDGE

Overall F/+ Rk 3 (42.1%)
8 (32.6%)
EVEN
Overall FEI Rk 6 (.262)
9 (.230)
EVEN
Overall S&P+ Rk 2 (298.1)
8 (254.6)
EVEN
Field Position Advantage 18 (.541) 9 (.557) EVEN

Before anyone says it, yes, we're taking numbers talking about what has been and applying them to what might be. Everybody sees that going in. I still feel pretty good about it, though, because these numbers tell us something about where the teams are. And where you are at least informs where you might be going.

Straightaway, you should notice that the teams are fairly evenly-matched overall. Baylor has a small edge in both FEI and S&P+ contributing to an overall edge in F/+. That's all well and good.

Looking at the individual units:
1. Baylor O (25.0%)
2. Ohio State O (20.6%)
3. Baylor D (17.4%)
4. Ohio State D (8.7%)
5. Ohio State ST (3.4%)
6. Baylor ST (-.3%)

Since we've last looked at these two against each other, a fair bit has changed. Our special teams have seen drastic improvement relative to where they used to be, while Ohio State's have fallen off. That was a big advantage they had over us that is still big, but less so. Their offense and defense have improved slightly over where they were, although their relative position in the F/+ rankings fell a single spot.

Basically, each team's offense is better than the opposite defense, ours by a significant margin.

When Baylor Has the Ball:

Category

Baylor Off

Ohio State Def

EDGE

Offensive/Defensive FEI Rk
9 (.558)
25 (-.314)
Baylor
Raw OE/DE
1 (1.108)
28 (-.258)
Baylor
First Down Rate
1 (.854)
10 (.568)
EVEN
Available Yards Rate
2 (.693)
18 (.365)
Baylor
Explosive Drives
1 (.365)
37 (.095)
Baylor
Methodical Drives 89 (.125)
76 (.158)
Ohio State?
Value Drives
3 (.617)
20 (.297)
Baylor
Offensive/Defensive S&P+
2 (156.0) 31 (117.4)
Baylor
Play Efficiency
2 (157.0)
37 (109.1) Baylor
Std. Downs S&P+ Rk.
2 (139.6)
38 (109.0) Baylor
Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 1 (193.5) 49 (107.5) BAYLOR
Rushing S&P+ Rk 12 (125.6) 24 (118.2) Baylor
Passing S&P+ Rk 1 (191.9)
54 (103.8) BAYLOR
Drive Efficiency 2 (159.1)
26 (125.6) Baylor
Difference in Net Points
2 (2.25)
5 (-1.89) Baylor

Not much has changed on this side of the ball since we last looked at the matchup. Baylor's offense is still incredible in almost every facet and Ohio State's defense is not. We have a sizable advantage in the passing game and on passing downs, and we should be able to run, as well. Ohio State's defense isn't bad by any stretch; it's just not good.

The big problem here for Ohio State is that their worst attribute, defending passing downs, would be put against our best, doing good things on passing downs. This is a huge advantage for us that simply typing BAYLOR in all caps doesn't really convey. Even without Tevin Reese, Bryce Petty would hit Antwan Goodley and friends successfully against this defense.

If you're wondering how a team that seems so good at preventing opposing teams from getting first downs/touchdowns and limiting available yards can still rank 25th overall in DFEI, the answer is that the offenses being prevented/limited suck. That's as simple as I can make it. Overall, this side of the ball leans heavily toward the Bears, who should be able to score points consistently against a Buckeye defense largely incapable of stopping them. Ohio State has yet to see an offense of Baylor's caliber this season (Wisconsin is their best opponent so far by Off S&P+ at 13, though Indiana, this week's opponent, is 12th. Could be something to watch. If the Hoosiers had any defense at all, they might be dangerous.).

When Ohio State Has the Ball:

Category

Baylor Def

Ohio State Off

EDGE

Offensive/Defensive FEI Rk
15 (-.469)
7(.593)
EVEN
Raw OE/DE
14 (-.465)
4 (.775)
EVEN
First Down Rate
9 (.557)
5 (.817)
EVEN
Available Yards Rate
14 (.356)
5 (.637)
EVEN
Explosive Drives
25 (.082)
6 (.258)
Ohio State
Methodical Drives 37 (.124)
49 (.161)
Baylor
Value Drives
16 (.286)
10 (.544)
EVEN
Offensive/Defensive S&P+
9 (142.1) 4 (137.2)
EVEN
Play Efficiency
9 (126.7)
6 (134.7) EVEN
Std. Downs S&P+ Rk.
10 (128.3)
3 (138.7) EVEN
Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 18 (124.1) 20 (124.3) EVEN
Rushing S&P+ Rk 14 (122.4) 1 (151.3) Ohio State
Passing S&P+ Rk 12 (127.4)
15 (127.4) EVEN
Drive Efficiency 8 (157.6)
4 (139.8) EVEN
Difference in Net Points
2 (-2.65)
6 (1.50) EVEN

This side is a bit more even, though Ohio State gets the benefit here of being the best rushing team in the country, as they'd probably tell you. There are actually more EVENs here than there used to be since our defensive rankings have improved so much in the last 2 games. Baylor's defense is salty, you guys.

Still, despite Baylor's defensive improvement, Ohio State's strategy is clear. Carlos Hyde is one of the best 5 RBs in the country by almost any measure and Braxton Miller is no slouch running the ball, either (to way understate things). The run would set up the pass, hopefully, as Baylor stacked the line to stop the run. Thankfully for us, this isn't as much of a mismatch as it once was due to improved defensive line play, so we may not have to. Baylor would still likely challenge Ohio State to beat us through the air as we've done just about every other team this season.

Honestly, there is a lot more EVEN here than I expected coming off the last post about these two teams. Ohio State's offense is extremely good, the best in the B1G, and our defense matches up relatively well. So far this season, we have been remarkably good at keeping opponents from scoring as many points as you would expect given the situation (represented by the Different in Net Points metric), which I've said before is at least partially a result of the pressure our offense creates.

Special Teams:

Category

Baylor

Ohio State

EDGE

F/+ Special Teams
75 10 OHIO STATE
Special Teams Efficiency
75 (-.206)
10 (2.507)
OHIO STATE
Field Goal Efficiency
82 (-.075)
35 (.384)

Punt Return Efficiency
95 (-.178)
26 (-.044)

Kickoff Return Efficiency
28 (-.042)
15 (-.024)

Punt Efficiency
75 (-.039)
41 (-.135)

Kickoff Efficiency
63 (-.155)
48 (-.201)

Opponent Field Goal Efficiency
13 (-.398)
84 (.282)

This was actually the single area in which both teams moved the most, if you can believe it. 3 weeks ago, the gap here was ridiculous with Baylor in the 100s and Ohio State at 4. Now, for whatever reason, Ohio State has fallen somewhat while the Bears have come up. It's still not an even game by any stretch, but Ohio State doesn't know they'll have to deal with LEVI NORWOOD should they punt the football. They probably do know that.

I'm celebrating the fact that this isn't as much of an abject disaster for us anymore.

The Bottom Line:

I want to see this game. Baylor has the better offense and defense than Ohio State by the numbers, but the Buckeye offense is extremely good. They'd score points. The latest we heard about a potential spread on this game was something like Baylor -5, if I recall. That's down from Baylor -7 as we were hearing last time around.

I'm comfortable with that spread for this game on a neutral field. Special teams still skew toward the Buckeyes in ways that aren't easy to predict but are definitely there. Once again, how you feel about that may influence how you feel about this game, but it's still a fun discussion to have, right? Let's talk it out in the comments. Also, vote in the poll below. It's exactly the same thing as last time, we just have more info now. More info is better!

Oh, and if you're thinking we should focus on OSU, not tOSU, that stat preview is coming this afternoon. Don't worry about it.

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