The first entry in our Hypothetical Matchup series, which is designed not to simulate the game or project the outcome but simply lay the teams out as they are/were according to FootballOutsiders' advanced metrics, is actually one very familiar to us: the 2011 Baylor Bears. Building on the poll from yesterday morning that itself built on the statements from our own Robert Griffin III, I decided to do this one first as almost a proof of concept. We're going to find out together how this looks, what it lacks, and how we can move forward to teams actually in the same plane of existence (time-wise) as our own. Let's have some fun.
One note before we get to the chart: we don't have stats from each week of the 2011 season. All we have is the end. So this is really comparing the 2013 Bears as of this moment versus the 2011 Bears as they were after the Alamo Bowl. Obviously, that team won 10 games, including the bowl, and had the Heisman winner at QB. But might the 2013 version be even better?
|2013 F/+ Rk||5||26||2013|
|2013 F/+ Special Teams
|2013 FEI Rk||8 (.240)
|2013 S&P+ Rk||2 (284.1)
Has the Ball ...
|2013 FEI Rk
|2013 FD Rk
|2013 AY Rk
|2013 Ex Rk
|2013 Me Rk||85 (.125)
|2013 Va Rk||2 (.667)
||1 (157.2)||95 (90.2)
|2013 Play Efficiency
|2013 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk.
|2013 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk||1 (218.1)||84 (91.7)||2013|
|2013 Rushing S&P+ Rk||15 (124.8)||71 (97.6)||2013|
|2013 Passing S&P+ Rk||1 (205.9)
|2013 Drive Efficiency||2 (154.7)
Has the Ball ...
|2013 FEI Rk||24 (-.364)||1 (.865)||2011|
|2013 FD Rk||19 (.579)||1 (.829)||2011|
|2013 AY Rk||27 (.380)||2 (.656)||2011|
|2013 Ex Rk||25 (.088)||1 (.279)||2011|
|2013 Me Rk||61 (.140)||10 (.200)||2011|
|2013 Va Rk||24 (.302)
||16 (126.9)||5 (137.1)
|2013 Play Efficiency
||32 (111.4)||5 (129.1)||2011|
|2013 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk||44 (108.0)||6 (126.3)||2011|
|2013 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk||43 (110.1)||3 (145.0)||2011|
|2013 Rushing S&P+ Rk
|2013 Passing S&P+ Rk||48(105.8)||4 (140.1)||2011|
|2013 Drive Efficiency
As usual, there are a few things I needed to say. After I'd put in all the ranks, I realized the obvious: we're comparing across years with ranks designed to compare teams nationally within one year. That's a bit of a problem. So instead of just posting the ranks and trying to draw some conclusions, I included for the first time the value given by FO by which the rank is derived. Try not to worry too much about where these numbers come from, since we probably don't want to get that far into it. Just know that's why they exist in the chart.
I'm starting from the bottom this time because it should be relatively obvious that, in all likelihood, this game would be an Alamo Bowl-esque shootout. Still, the 2013 team is clearly stronger, mostly on account of the fact that the defense isn't an absolute tire fire like it was just two years ago. The 2011 team would still score points, especially on the ground with the combination of Robert Griffin III and Terrance Ganaway, but we have every reason, based on the eye test and the stats, to believe the 2013 team is simply better overall. If they could avoid repeatedly giving up huge plays to each other on special teams, it would be an amazingly fun game to watch.
When 2013 Has the Ball:
Bryce Petty would throw all over the 2011 defense. There's almost no doubt. By the end of that season, K.J. Morton and Joe Williams were starting at corner for the Bears, and to say they were still learning would be charitable. The 2013 versions of Tevin Reese and Antwan Goodley would utterly destroy them, and the 2013 offense as a whole might not even have to run. Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin might not even have to carry the ball much, though if we decided to let them, they'd probably be pretty successful, too. The middle of that 2011 defense was questionable, as was the defensive line. This wouldn't be a question of points so much as possessions. Our 2013 offensive line would dominate the 2011 front, keeping Petty and his throwing lanes clean. The very idea of someone like Corey Coleman finding a matchup with 2011 Mike Hicks and/or Sam Holl should say it all. 2013 scores ALL THE POINTS.
When 2011 Has the Ball:
Same thing, though slightly less so since the 2013 defense is notably better than its 2011 counterpart. If you believe that the 2013 unit has a weakness to QBs who can run, that might give you more hope that the 2011 team could hold serve. They were certainly a dynamic unit themselves in 2011 that was among the best in the country. I'd be particularly interested to see how our 2013 defense lines up against a receiving corps consisting of the 2011 versions of Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams, and the aforementioned Tevin Reese. My inclination is to believe they'd get burned, especially with our safeties reacting to RGIII running the play action, but I can't be sure. Our 2013 DL is significantly improved, so RGIII could have a tougher time hanging in the pocket.
The Bottom Line:
Basically, if you love offense, this impossible game would be your fantasy. If you don't, your nightmare. But it'd be a lot of Baylor on one field at one time, and that's never a bad thing. Think about the storylines! RGIII, the savior of Baylor Football, against Bryce Petty, leader of possibly the best team in school history. Up-and-Comer Art Briles vs. Hottest Name in Coaching Art Briles. It's got everything.
For the purpose of discussion, I'm going to assume we do this game in Floyd Casey. That way both teams get home field advantage. And everybody playing is doing so as the version of themselves from that year. Also, I seriously considered throwing in links to depth charts and what have you. Would that help?