Baylor vs. Iowa State Stats Preview

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This Saturday, the Baylor Bears take on the Iowa State Cyclones in an effort to get to 6-0. The odds have us favored ... by a lot. And the stats seem to back that up, at least a little bit. Iowa State has a huge ace up their sleeve, though.

This is the second week of the new format, which I think worked very well in preparing for Kansas State. We said they needed to run, and they did. We said we needed to stop them, and we didn't. That we still won the game is a testament to the resiliency of Baylor's team, resiliency being a quality in short supply in even the recent past. That we needed to do it the way we did it caused a bit of anxiety around these parts, to say the least.

This week's opponent is the Iowa State Cyclones, led by Head Coach Paul Rhoads. Their record is 1-4, but as I said yesterday, do not be fooled by that, the Cyclones are a solid Big 12 team that could easily be 3-2 or better at this point, should the Texas game have been called correctly and a few bounces gone the other way a week ago in Lubbock.

In case you missed it, I did a much larger chart with the same metrics for the entire Big 12 last night, as I do every week. Baylor comes into this game as the top Big 12 team in both rankings and metrics, and a huge favorite according to the oddsmakers, as well.

2013 FootballOutsiders Metrics for Baylor vs. Iowa State. Last week's numbers, so much as they exist, are in parenthesis. Dashes (---) mean there are no such numbers to report.

Category Baylor
(5-0)
ISU
(1-4)
EDGE
2013 F/+ Rk 6 (1) 55 BAYLOR
2013 F/+ Special Teams
119 7 IOWA STATE!!!!!
2013 FEI Rk 12 (17) 69 BAYLOR
2013 S&P+ Rk 3 (1) 37 BAYLOR

When Baylor
Has the Ball ...
EDGE
2013 FEI Rk
5 (---) 77 BAYLOR
2013 FD Rk
1 (---) 46 BAYLOR
2013 AY Rk
1 (---) 49 BAYLOR
2013 Ex Rk
1 (---) 58 BAYLOR
2013 Me Rk 101 (---) 36 IOWA STATE
2013 Va Rk 4 (---) 79 BAYLOR
2013 S&P+
1 (1) 69 BAYLOR
2013 Play Efficiency
1 (---) 85 BAYLOR
2013 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk.
5 (1) 78 BAYLOR
2013 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 1 (1) 80 BAYLOR
2013 Rushing S&P+ Rk 15 (1) 107 BAYLOR
2013 Passing S&P+ Rk 1 (1) 37 Baylor
2013 Drive Efficiency 2 (---) 55 BAYLOR

When ISU
Has the Ball ...
EDGE
2013 FEI Rk 42 (---) 50 EVEN
2013 FD Rk 40 (---) 119 BAYLOR
2013 AY Rk 56 (---) 98 BAYLOR
2013 Ex Rk 51 (---) 92 BAYLOR
2013 Me Rk 69 (---) 111 BAYLOR
2013 Va Rk 55 (---) 98 BAYLOR
2013 S&P+
32 (38) 75 Baylor
2013 Play Efficiency
40 (---) 75 Baylor
2013 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 46 (8) 62 Baylor
2013 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 66 (45) 62 EVEN
2013 Rushing S&P+ Rk
65 (2) 39 Iowa State
2013 Passing S&P+ Rk 52 (44) 80 Baylor
2013 Drive Efficiency
28 (---) 70 BAYLOR

Explanation

The table has grown a bit since last week, so it's probably time to make a small legend and do a little explaining on what this all means. FEI made its triumphant 2013 debut this week, so now we have more numbers than ever before!*

*For more info on what FEI and its components do, check out the page on FootballOutsiders.com.

First, to the relatively obvious point, the left columns are all Baylor's ranks, on both offense and defense. The right columns are Iowa States, arranged oppositely. "When Baylor Has the Ball" means that it's Baylor's O vs. ISU's D and vice versa for "When ISU Has The Ball."

The "EDGE" column is entirely my view on things based on the numbers and nothing more. All caps means one side has a big edge on the other. All caps plus exclamation points means it's Iowa State's special teams against ours and we should be ashamed. Normal capitalization is a much smaller edge, but still an edge. EVEN is a toss-up in each direction, and typically means the numbers are within 10 ranks of each other. It's a crude system, and I'm still working on it.

What Does It Mean?

Overall--

Baylor is the obvious winner of almost any matchup between our offense and their defense, and the less obvious winner of almost every matchup between their offense and our defense. Iowa State's special teams make ours look like a junior high, so we're 2/3. Or maybe 1.75/3. We'll go with that.

When Baylor Has the Ball--

Baylor has a huge edge in just about every offensive stat that says something about where our team is. We should be able to both run and pass the ball on ISU's defense, though stopping the latter is apparently their strength. FEI (and its attenuate components) likes ISU's defense better than S&P+, but neither are just crazy about what the Cyclones are doing on that side. Of course, this is the same defense that manhandled the Bears last year, with the help of four turnovers, and their ability to scheme against us specifically may come into play. Because there's not really any way to discern that from the stats themselves at this point, however, I don't have much to say on the matter.

Somehow, I managed to be both right and wrong about Baylor's offensive tendencies for the Kansas State game, a fate I will simultaneously try to achieve and avoid. I said the Bears would come out running, which they did, and would continue doing so throughout the game, which they did not. It wasn't that I didn't believe Bryce Petty could carry the load; I didn't see Kansas State being able to force him to do so, though they would clearly try. They did, and he did, and Baylor won the game on the strength of big plays down the field in the passing game.

The same thing could easily happen Saturday, since Baylor apparently doesn't care how good other teams are at stopping the pass, but I don't know if it will. I expect that Briles and Montgomery will once again focus on the running game in order to set up the pass, giving Glasco Martin and Lache Seastrunk plenty of opportunities early in the game. Should we establish a lead like we could have against Kansas State, that might be the dominant theme of the game. Should we get into more of a dogfight than expected, the passing game could become more meaningful. Baylor is weird like that. Either way, if Baylor can avoid turning the ball over repeatedly like we did in Ames a year ago, we're going to score points.

When Iowa State Has the Ball--

Defensively, the Bears face an offense that will probably try to do a lot of the same things on Saturday that KState did a week ago. Sam Richardson is no Daniel Sams, but he can run effectively, as Texas found out the hard way in Ames. The combination of Richardson and Aaron Wimberly, should he play, is clearly the Cyclone's offensive strength, as well as their best chance to sustain drives. With the rush defense that was #2 in the country just two weeks ago experiencing one of the worst falls that I can remember after a single game, we appear somewhat vulnerable in that regard.

I'm not confident predicting that Baylor will load the box against Richardson (or backup Grant Rohach, who is getting weird twitter buzz about playing this week) because we had the perfect opportunity to do so last week against Sams and didn't. I still don't understand that, and I probably never will. Combine that with the fact that Richardson, though not great by any stretch, is a much better passer than Sams, and you get a situation where we could play a lot of what has become our base, with the safeties relatively close to the line but not exactly "loading the box."

No matter what we do, the key this week is the same as against the Wildcats: we have to stop the run. ISU will do things differently than KState did in that they probably won't run their QB 30 times, and I have more faith in our ability to stop a "traditional" running offense than one predicated on the QB, but it's still not something I relish going into the game. Hopefully, we spent the week doing little else but drilling our linebackers in run responsibilities and our DL in shedding blocks.

Bottom Line

Baylor is and should be the heavy favorite, but a line of 30+ points our way makes no sense to me. It's just too high, as you can see from the fact that 58% of respondents on OddsShark are taking ISU +33.5. Baylor will probably win because ISU's defense won't be able to stop our offense, but their special teams, given the opportunity, could make the game closer than it would otherwise be. That is a huge mismatch in their favor from the numbers.

For uniforms, I've said all along that I thought Baylor would wear traditional gold with green jerseys and gold pants. I'm not changing now.

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