Baylor vs. Kansas Statistical Preview

Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

What S&P+ and FEI have to say about the upcoming tilt between the Baylor Bears and the Kansas Jayhawks this Saturday, October 26, 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas.

We are back once again for another statistical look at Baylor's opponent of the week! This time, the opponent is the Kansas Jayhawks, winner of just 2 games this season overall and loser of ... well everything in Big 12 play. The last time Baylor went to Lawrence, it took a miracle comeback in the fourth quarter by Robert Griffin III to keep his Heisman hopes alive. It shouldn't be that difficult this time around, but you never know.

This is the third week in a row that we'll be using my new chart format, and I haven't gotten any complaints about it. On the contrary, I've actually received a few compliments about it being easier to digest. And, unlike last week, there are no new categories making their debuts, so be excited about that. (Scratch that, there's one: FPA)

Reminder: these are the same numbers I posted last night for the entire conference, just reorganized and pitted against each other for our game. If you want to see the entire conference, refer back to that post.

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

Category Baylor
(6-0)
KU
(2-4)
EDGE
2013 F/+ Rk 5 (6) 91 BAYLOR
2013 F/+ Special Teams
109 (119) 82 Kansas
2013 FEI Rk 8 (12) 83 BAYLOR
2013 S&P+ Rk 2 (3) 108 BAYLOR
2013 FPA 30 (---) 82 BAYLOR

When Baylor
Has the Ball ...
EDGE
2013 FEI Rk
10 (5) 37 Baylor
2013 FD Rk
1 (1) 101 BAYLOR
2013 AY Rk
1 (1) 74 BAYLOR
2013 Ex Rk
1 (1) 29 Baylor
2013 Me Rk 85 (101) 76 EVEN
2013 Va Rk 2 (4) 63 BAYLOR
2013 S&P+
1 (1) 77 BAYLOR
2013 Play Efficiency
1 (1) 76 BAYLOR
2013 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk.
4 (5) 90 BAYLOR
2013 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 1 (1) 61 BAYLOR
2013 Rushing S&P+ Rk 15 (15) 95 BAYLOR
2013 Passing S&P+ Rk 1 (1) 62 BAYLOR
2013 Drive Efficiency 2 (2) 79 BAYLOR

When KU
Has the Ball ...
EDGE
2013 FEI Rk 24 (42) 114 BAYLOR
2013 FD Rk 16 (40) 123 BAYLOR
2013 AY Rk 27 (56) 123 BAYLOR
2013 Ex Rk 25 (51) 96 BAYLOR
2013 Me Rk 61 (69) 118 BAYLOR
2013 Va Rk 24 (55) 122 BAYLOR
2013 S&P+
16 (32) 111 BAYLOR
2013 Play Efficiency
32 (40) 114 BAYLOR
2013 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 44 (46) 93 BAYLOR
2013 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 43 (66) 113 BAYLOR
2013 Rushing S&P+ Rk
50 (65) 94 BAYLOR
2013 Passing S&P+ Rk 48 (52) 115 BAYLOR
2013 Drive Efficiency
10 (28) 112 BAYLOR

Explanation

As always, if you have questions about what each of the metrics/submetrics does or tries to do, please feel free to ask in the comments and I will answer as best I can. You can also always refer to the descriptions listed on the FootballOutsiders page for each for more information.

First, to the relatively obvious point, the left columns are all Baylor's ranks, on both offense and defense. The right columns are Kansas', arranged oppositely. "When Baylor Has the Ball" means that it's Baylor's O vs. KU's D and vice versa for "When KU 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. 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. I briefly considered replacing the lettering with small logos, but then I couldn't communicate the same edge. I might still do that, eventually.

One Clarification

Last week, someone asked which of FEI and S&P+ were adjusted for opponents. The answer is both, although I said just S&P+ at the time. But that answer is more complicated than it seems. Take Kansas' Defensive FEI for a moment. Their DFEI ranks them 37th in the country, which is pretty good. That ranking, however, is backed up by much worse submetrics (2 in the 70s, 1 in the 100s). At first glance, this seems inconsistent. The reason is that the submetrics themselves are not adjusted, but FEI is. So FEI as a whole takes into consideration strength of opponent, but the individual metrics do not. Make sense?

That is not the case with S&P+, where every time you see a +, you know it is opponent-adjusted. We can talk about it more in the comments.

What Does It Mean?

Overall--

Baylor should, based off what we've seen so far this season, absolutely destroy Kansas. Our offense is worlds better than their defense, and the gap between our defense and their offense is somehow even bigger than that. Special Teams aside, there is a not a single category in which Kansas has a difference of any meaningful size over Baylor. I don't say this to be rude or offensive to Kansas or its team; I say it because it's true based on the numbers above.

When Baylor Has the Ball--

From the chart above, it is easy to see immediately how and why Texas Tech's offense put up 56 on Kansas. Though the Jayhawks don't allow many big plays, they give up first downs by the boatload. Those first downs eventually become points because the KU defense can't get off the field. It's not a horrible unit by any stretch-- certainly not as bad as some of the Baylor teams of late-- but it's not good. And considering it faces one of the best, if not the best, offenses in the country this weekend in terms of efficiency, the KU D has its work cut out for it.

I don't have much to say about last week's game and how things turned out from a projection standpoint. Baylor had trouble running the ball early in the game until the passing game opened things up. Iowa State, content early on with playing its safeties relatively close and taking their chances, stopped once that approach burned them and they got down. Still, for one reason or another, Baylor tried and failed very early to establish the running game we know Briles wants.

Based on what we know on that front, I fully expect Baylor to do the same thing again on the road in Lawrence (try, not fail). And it will be interesting to see how successful we are in that endeavor, since KU's rush defense is actually rated higher than ISU's was a week ago. Should we scuffle a bit out of the gate running the ball, Briles may turn once again to a trick play or the pass itself to get the offense on track, determined to return to the run with a lead established. That, so much as anything, is Briles' MO this season.

As far as KU's outlook is concerned, I'm not convinced that KU will follow the KSU strategy, mostly because they don't have the players and it doesn't fit with who they are as a defense. I'm much more inclined to believe that KSU, instead of clamping down with the front seven and taking their chances over the top, will attempt to limit our big plays in order to make us extend drives. It's a bend-but-don't-break concept, that you force the offense to have repeated success rather than give up explosive plays, and it fits with what we see of KU from the numbers. They don't give up explosive drives (or haven't, yet) and are better against the pass than the run. Of course, we all know by now how little Briles cares for your plans and schemes. We're going big before we go home.

When Kansas Has the Ball--

Forget out offense for a second; it is a known quantity of amazing (amazeballs?). This might be the best matchup our defense has seen in years, because the KU offense is abjectly terrible. Of the thirteen metrics/submetrics listed, they're below 100 in 10 of them. They're 93rd or worse in the other three. This is an awful offense, and ours is an improving defense.

Aside from simply pointing at the chart and letting it speak for itself (which might be what I should do), I don't have much to say. KU's offense has no real "strengths," though they are clearly better running the ball than passing. That makes sense, their RB is James Sims. Their QB, Jake Heaps. One of these things is significantly better than the other. KU is awful at getting first downs, probably as a result of being bad on standard downs and hopeless on passing downs, and doesn't score points. Like I said yesterday, they have 66 points combined in their 4 losses this season. That's 16.5 points per game.

The only hope Kansas has for sustained offensive success is to try to plow right through us, hoping the run defense of two weeks ago makes an appearance instead of the one that held ISU to 41 yards on 33 carries. Passing poorly doesn't make any sense, because all that does is give us back the ball more quickly to score more points. They have to bank on their defense keeping the game close by drawing out our scoring drives and then trying to gash us on the ground. I never said it was a great plan.

Bottom Line--

Baylor should win this game going away. Yes, the game is on the road where anything can happen. We need no more reminder of that than the first quarter of KU vs. OU this weekend. Despite everything I've said above about the matchups in this game and how things should play out, you can't just roll the ball out on the field and expect Kansas to abide by the stats. Baylor has to jump on them from the outset and execute for 60 minutes. The good news is that we should; this game is almost entirely a mismatch.

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