Last Thursday (which feels like a year ago if you watched the Astros 18-inning victory on Sunday), Baylor lost their second conference game, 43 to 40, against the West Virginia Mountaineers.
In my statistical recap of the Oklahoma State game, I said you’d feel better about Baylor despite the loss. That’s not the case here, at least not on the defensive side. Here’s what the stats say about the game.
When Baylor was on offense
Baylor had their best offensive outing of the season, even after losing Blake Shapen to an inexcusable hit by a WVU defender. Through the air, Baylor registered a 56% success rate (percent of plays that earn 50%/70%/100% of yards to gain on first/second/third and fourth down, respectively), which is their second highest mark of the season. Worth noting, WVU’s season average of passing success rate allowed is even higher, so the Mountaineer’s lackluster defense is as much to blame as Baylor’s offense.
A big part of Baylor’s success came from explosive (20+ yards) plays. Their 20.8 yards per completion are in top 5% of all games played between FBS opponents this season and last, and their mind-boggling 52% explosive rate is near the top 1%! Give a lot of the credit to Gavin Holmes who had 210 yards on 7 catches. WVU’s defense is bad, but they aren’t normally this bad.
Last week I couldn’t believe that Baylor didn’t run the ball more given their success on the ground. This week, given their unmitigated success through the air, you might wonder why Baylor ran the ball as much as they did. The answer? Baylor moved the ball at will on the ground, too.
Baylor’s running backs had an incredibly efficient game, posting a 56% success rate, their highest mark of the season, and close to the top 10% of all games around the nation. Their 5.6 non-sack yards per carry and 6.3% explosive rate were second only to their game against Texas State. In third/fourth down situations, they converted a perfect 3 for 3.
Baylor was “held” to 43 points (their best of the season, by the way) for one reason. Turnovers. Baylor had a fumble returned for a touchdown in the first half and another two turnovers in the second half. With one fewer bad bounce, Baylor may have broken the 50-mark.
When Baylor was on defense
Unfortunately, Baylor wasted a great offensive performance with a middling defensive one. To summarize it in one sentence — West Virginia’s success rate nearly equaled Baylor’s, but the Mountaineers had only one turnover.
Through the air, West Virginia was held to a completion rate and explosive play rate just below their season averages. Their 11.8 yards per completion were above average for them but solidly average for the rest of the nation.
That said, Baylor once again failed to adequately pressure the quarterback and logged a goose-egg in the sack column. The clean pocket allowed JT Daniels to pick up a first down on 50% of his 10 third/fourth down pass attempts. West Virginia does not have an elite offensive line. Baylor has to get this fixed.
I don’t know what was more frustrating — Baylor’s lack of pass rush or their sieve of a run defense. West Virginia, without their leading rusher, did to Baylor what no other team has this year, registering 5.6 yards per carry. For reference, Baylor hasn’t allowed anyone to gain 4 yards per carry. The Mountaineers also had the highest explosive run rate that Baylor has allowed all season.
If you’re looking a silver lining, Baylor held West Virginia to a 2/5 conversion rate while running on third/fourth down, almost 15 percentage points below WVU’s season average, and registered a 19% stuff rate, roughly 10 percentage points above WVU’s season average.
Once again, Baylor lost a game that they so easily could have won. Let’s hope for a better outcome next weekend.
Lowest postgame win expectancy in a win, Week 7:— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) October 16, 2022
FAU > Rice 15%
Stanford > Notre Dame 23%
Ga S'ern > JMU 25%
Fresno St > SJSU 33%
WVU > Baylor 36%
ECU > Memphis 40%
Purdue > Nebraska 40%
Utah > USC 49%
8 under 50%! Fun/dumb/weird week!https://t.co/ghS73jM2DT
Data courtesy of CollegeFootballData.com. Calculations performed by author. All statistics exclude garbage time.