Baylor vs. Texas Stats Preview

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears look to close the case in style against those dastardly Longhorns from down I-35. We're 14-point favorites as of this writing, but should we be?

Based on the success of the Big 12 Stats post last night and the positive suggestions received from it, I've changed the format of this post slightly once again (prettier charts!) and added the tooltip explanations to some of the more esoteric acronyms.  Let me know if there's anything that looks off to you.

A Few Notes:

If you're a Longhorn fan or someone who hasn't seen my stats posts before, I already know the labels in the EDGE column are totally arbitrary.  With that out of the way, here's what they mean:
EVEN = 10 or fewer ranking spots difference
Lowercase = 40 or fewer ranking spots difference
UPPERCASE = 40 or more ranking spots difference.

There are a few situations where I've deviated based on the actual values for each category.

2013 FootballOutsiders Metrics for the Baylor Bears vs. the Texas Longhorns.  If you want to compare Baylor's numbers below to those from last week, hit the link to the TCU Stats Preview.

Overall:

Category

Baylor (10-1)

Texas  (8-3)

EDGE

Overall F/+ Rk 8 (30.3%)
38 (10.7%)
Baylor
Overall FEI Rk 10 (.228)
39 (.091)
Baylor
Overall S&P+ Rk 3 (270.6)
53 (212.0)
BAYLOR
Field Position Advantage 13 (.543) 46 (.513) Baylor

Baylor dropped a bit again following a close 41-38 win over the 4-8 TCU Horned Frogs.  That's fine; I think #8 in F/+ is probably about where we should be.

Looking at the individual units:
1. Baylor O (21.0%)
2. Baylor D (9.8%)
3. Texas O (6.2%)
4. Texas D (2.5%)
5. Texas ST (2.1%)
6. Baylor ST (-.5%)

Baylor has the top 2 units in the game.  I think I've typed that sentence 10 times this year in these previews.

When Baylor Has the Ball:

Category

Baylor Off

Texas Def

EDGE

Offensive/Defensive FEI Rk
10 (.517)
44 (-.155)
Baylor
Raw OE/DE
4 (.747)
31 (-.240)
Baylor
First Down Rate 5 (.815)
30 (.619)
Baylor
Available Yards Rate 4 (.623)
30 (.398)
Baylor
Explosive Drives 1 (.306)
66 (.122)
BAYLOR
Methodical Drives 85 (.129)
10 (.101)
TEXAS
Value Drives 10 (.552)
48 (.362)
Baylor
Offensive/Defensive S&P+
2 (147.3) 68 (104.0)
BAYLOR
Play Efficiency
2 (141.9)
65 (100.5) BAYLOR
Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 2 (139.0)
79 (97.9) BAYLOR
Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 3 (154.3) 42 (109.3) BAYLOR
Rushing S&P+ Rk 12 (125.8) 69 (98.9) BAYLOR
Passing S&P+ Rk 2(166.1)
55 (102.9) BAYLOR
Drive Efficiency 2 (152.8)
70 (107.4) BAYLOR
Difference in Net Points
2 (1.61)
47 (-.74) BAYLOR

If you've read the stats previews from the past few weeks and paid attention to the numbers inside the parenthesis, you'll notice that though our ranks are still quite strong, we are trending downward on offense.  That's to be expected as we play dominant defenses without two of our best offensive players in Spencer Drango and Tevin Reese.  We're still an elite offense, probably, we're just not as elite as we once were.

Before getting to Texas, I'm going to drop a quotebox here of something I said last week, just to show I'm not as ridiculous a homer as some have said in these previews:

I'll kick this off by saying that if you were upset by our offensive performance last week against OSU, there is at least some cause of concern here against TCU.  The Horned Frogs have a defense that is ranked similarly in some respects to that of the Cowboys and actually better in others.  They are particularly good on standard downs because of a strong rush defense, but they are also quite good on passing downs.  If you believe that what we saw in Stillwater was the new norm for Baylor's depleted offense against a team with fast linebackers and a good secondary, you're probably pretty upset right now.  TCU has both of those things, too, and runs a 4-2-5 defense known to give us problems in the past.  Given the statistical profiles of the two teams and what we know of their tendencies, particularly on Baylor's side, it seems extremely reasonable to say that if Baylor has offensive success, it will likely have to come through big plays.  Should TCU stop those, we might have a serious, serious problem.

Moving to Texas -- I'm not entirely sure why S&P+ thinks the Texas defense is basically hot garbage at this point.  I know it has a lot to do with their early struggles against BYU and Ole Miss, but they seem to have improved significantly from that point.  The numbers don't really reflect that, showing big advantages for Baylor on standard downs and in the running game.  On the whole, I'm willing to say that the Texas defense is probably the worst of the Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas troika, but that's not a knock at all.  OSU and TCU are really good.

The numbers above reveal why you've already seen a post by Ian Boyd on Barking Carnival about how Texas stops Baylor's running game.  Doing so is essential to just about any strategy whereby Texas limits our offense.  Mack Brown seems to get that, as evidenced by his statement this week that you have to make Baylor one-dimensional if you hope to have a chance.  If Texas allows us to run the ball as the numbers suggest we will, their chances are very slim in this game.  As we so often say, the run opens up everything for the Baylor offense.  Both of Baylor's starters, Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, should play this weekend and be even healthier than a week ago.

When Texas Has the Ball:

Category

Baylor Def

Texas Off

EDGE

Offensive/Defensive FEI Rk
24 (-.310)
39 (.226)
Baylor
Raw OE/DE
25 (-.319)
64 (-.016)
Baylor
First Down Rate 12 (.579)
42 (.710)
Baylor
Available Yards Rate 23 (.382)
62 (.462)
Baylor
Explosive Drives 59 (.119)
67 (.123)
EVEN
Methodical Drives 18 (.111)
83 (.130)
BAYLOR
Value Drives 23 (.314)
49 (.418)
Baylor
Offensive/Defensive S&P+
20 (123.4) 43 (108.1)
Baylor
Play Efficiency
32 (110.5)
51 (105.9) Baylor
Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 30 (111.5)
48 (106.7) EVEN
Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 35 (112.4) 48 (107.7) EVEN
Rushing S&P+ Rk 24 (117.3) 69 (100.5) BAYLOR
Passing S&P+ Rk 47 (104.7)
29 (114.8) Texas
Drive Efficiency 16 (136.2)
39 (110.2) Baylor
Difference in Net Points
2 (-2.05)
48 (.01) BAYLOR

Without charting out the trends for our defense over the course of the season (something I will do, just not yet), I can't say for certain that Phil Bennett's unit peaked against Oklahoma 3 weeks ago.  I can say that the performance against TCU, a poor offensive team by almost any statistical definition, was probably the worst yet this season.  That's a bad thing.  After the first drive, we actually handled the TCU running game quite well, holding them to 1.58 yards per carry the rest of the way, but Casey Pachall, as I predicted he might, had some success throwing the ball down the field on us.  That's not altogether unexpected given Pachall's talent and past performances, but it hadn't really happened for TCU yet this season and it doesn't reflect well.  As a result, our defense fell even further against the pass, which I think we all agree is our weakness at this point, and on passing downs.  The return of K.J. Morton this week should help that problem somewhat, but not more than the absence of Ahmad Dixon will hurt it in the first half.

Despite the fact that the statistics favor their passing offense over the run, we'll probably see, at least in the early going, a healthy dose of the Texas ground game through Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown.  There's an argument to be made that Texas' pass offense looks so good because it is used so sparingly, especially since Case McCoy isn't considered to be that great of a passer.  I'm speculating on that, obviously, but it makes sense.  That's not to say they can't or won't throw the ball -- Mike Davis, in particular is a potent deep threat -- but rather a potential explanation for why you might see Texas commit themselves to the run early in the game.  One reason you might not is that Texas' offensive staff have to realize that our coverage suffers in Dixon's absence, and he'll be back after the bands play at halftime. In the meantime, he'll be replaced by a combination of Orion Stewart, his backup, and Terell Burt, the other starter at safety.

Should Texas follow the plan to run early and often, that may not actually be all that bad for us.  Even in the absence of MLB Bryce Hager, our run defense has continued to be quite strong.  We have no new information on the Hager injury front, so I will proceed as if he won't play.  In that case, we'll probably see Eddie Lackey at MLB again flanked by Brody Trahan at OLB and Sam Holl at NB.  Trahan suffers a bit in pass coverage, and I shudder to think about him against a RB catching a pass out of the backfield, but to borrow a phrase from Mr. Wescott Eberts, it is what it is.

Special Teams:

Category

Baylor

Texas

EDGE

F/+ Special Teams
80 (-.5%)
31 (2.1%) TEXAS
Special Teams Efficiency
80 (-.271)
30 (1.237)
TEXAS
Field Goal Efficiency
77 (-.037)
4 (.720)
----
Punt Return Efficiency
93 (-.157)
31 (.027)
----
Kickoff Return Efficiency
39 (-.078)
75 (-.187)
----
Punt Efficiency
72 (-.046)
39 (-.132)
----
Kickoff Efficiency
62 (-.139)
96 (-.062)
----
Opponent Field Goal Efficiency
20 (-.255)
102 (.341)
----

Once again, we play a team that has a great kicker in Penn State transfer Anthony Fera.  That could be a huge factor if the field is icy and/or the offenses have a hard time getting going in poor weather.  That edge on field goals contributes to a relatively huge Texas advantage in special teams.  Getting Daje Johnson back to return kicks, but apparently not punts, could make that edge even bigger.  When Baylor kicks into the wind, the potential for big returns could be something to watch.

The Bottom Line:

Once again, Baylor is a fairly sizable favorite against another Big 12 Conference foe.  The advantages our offense should have over their defense probably explains that somewhat.  I will admit that the weather is likely to play some role in this game, though exactly what that means is impossible to know for sure.  If you believe that cold, icy conditions are likely to have a bigger impact on the team that has to throw the ball, you can argue that Baylor should be more concerned.  Then you look at our relative ranks running the ball and stopping the run and go the other way.  Baylor is the better team in both areas by these statistics, and relatively weak against the pass on defense, so it makes perfect sense that the Bears might prefer conditions that require Texas to play to our strengths.  No matter what, it's definitely not so clear-cut as "cold weather = bad for Baylor" as you might hear, especially if we're able to get any kind of a lead on Texas such that they have to throw the ball.  In addition, we have every indication thus far that playing at home is a very good thing for our offensive confidence, both in terms of the plays we call and how we execute those plays.

There are just so many questions about this game that I have no idea how to answer.  Will we see the same dominant Texas team that beat up on OU or the one that got dominated by Oklahoma State?  The one that smoked a reeling Texas Tech team at home or squeaked by West Virginia on the road?  What about Baylor?  Does coming home get the offense back on track or are our best offensive days for 2013 behind us?  No matter what, a horde of Baylor fans hungry for our first conference championship in Big 12 play will be there, cheering our Bears (hopefully) to victory!

Stats Postmortem -- TCU:

I don't really have much to say in hindsight about the TCU game.  Their defense played extremely well against our offense, as many expected.  That their offense played so well was surprising, but it followed the pattern I predicted.  They were able to challenge our corners down the field repeatedly, often getting either a bailout penalty or a successful pass.  For probably the second time this season, we can say that Baylor won the game because of the defense, not the offense.  That's two more times than we probably expected.

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