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Baylor at Oklahoma State: The Advanced Stats Preview

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How the Baylor vs. Oklahoma State game shapes up according to Football Outsiders' Advanced Stats

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Buckle up, folks. We’re doing this. It’s another Advanced Stats Post where I have little to no confidence that these stats have much predictive power based on external factors. Last week, the stats really liked our rushing attack against OU’s run defense, but they consistently had the numbers advantage and, after the first drive, held the Bears under 100 yards rushing for the remainder of the game. The unit that was least affected by injury seemed to be the one that was the least successful, while an injured Stidham was still able to find success through the air.

We’ve got the same thing again this week. Earlier today, I tweeted this about the Advanced Stats Preview:

But, here I am anyway. Even with a fully healthy team, I feel like Stillwater at night throws this whole thing on its ear. And oh yeah, it’s going to be cold. The saving grace about the situation is that at least there won’t be any kind of precipitation and the wind isn’t supposed to be bad… Two things that could really mess up our offense. But, then you’ve got the injuries to contend with. I’ll talk about those when I get to the relevant portions of the preview. Just know this: None of what I’m about to write may matter. The game is in Stillwater. At night. In the cold.

On the other hand, you’ve got a team that suddenly went from being the class of the Big 12 to being on the outside looking in, and the media is already talking about how the Bedlam game next week could be for a playoff spot. That’s the kind of disrespect that Art Briles teams absolutely thrive on, and Briles has overcome at least one massive obstacle each season. Is this the season that he gets the win in Stillwater?

ON the subject of stats, I highly suggest you check out S11’s Statistical Breakdown for this game over at BearsTruth. It’s a fantastic read and well worth your time. Let’s get to our stats.

For any Cowboys fans reading this preview or if you’ve never looked at one of these in depth, we use a completely arbitrary "EDGE" ranking system in these posts. If the two teams overall ranks for a particular stat are < 10 ranks apart, the Edge column shows "EVEN." If the teams are between 10 and 40 ranks apart, you’ll see the team with the advantage in normal case. Any disparity over 40 ranks apart is in all caps.

Overview Stats

Stat Baylor Oklahoma State EDGE
F/+ 7 (39.40%) 16 (32.20%) EVEN
S&P+ 7 (17.5) 20 (11.7) Baylor
FEI 16 (0.162) 14 (0.169) EVEN

Pretty much even. S&P+ is a little bit less of a fan of Oklahoma State at this point. Some folks have been quick to point out that Oklahoma State’s offense is not nearly as productive as the numbers suggest, relying on just a few big plays to gain big chunks of yardage (see, e.g., the TCU game). Be that as it may, they’ve been getting those big plays and getting enough of them to win. With Seth Russell being lost to injury, that’s going to be a big equalizer in this game. Let’s take a closer look at each side of the ball.

When Baylor Has the Ball…

  • S&P+: The offensive/defensive components of S&P+.
  • IsoPPP: IsoPPP is the Equivalent Points Per Play (PPP) average on only successful plays. This allows us to look at offense in two steps: How consistently successful were you, and when you were successful, how potent were you?.
  • Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.
  • Average Field Position: This is mostly self-explanatory, with one important note: An offense is measured by its defense’s starting field position, and vice versa. Special teams obviously play a large role in field position, but so do the effectiveness of your offense and defense. So in the team profiles, you’ll find Defensive Starting FP in the offensive section and Offensive Starting FP in the defensive section.
  • Points Per Trip Inside 40: Mostly self-explanatory. This measure looks not at how frequently you create scoring opportunities, but how you finish the ones you create. And yes, for the purposes of this stat, the "red zone" starts at the 40, not the 20.
Factor Stat Baylor Oklahoma State EDGE
S&P+ 1 (47.1) 51 (26) BAYLOR
EFFICIENCY Success Rate 1 (53.00%) 35 (37.90%) Baylor
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1 (1.56) 63 (1.24) BAYLOR
FIELD POSITION Avg. FP 54 (30.4) 4 (25.5) OKLAHOMA STATE
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 1 (6.01) 87 (4.9) BAYLOR

Despite the struggles last week, the Bears managed to remain the top overall offense in S&P+ this week. They’re still getting over 6 points per trip inside their opponent’s 40-yard line, but only just. The Bears hold a solid advantage in each of these metrics except, of course, Field Position. I’m a broken record at this point on that front. Oklahoma State is spectacular at pinning its opponents deep. After Saturday’s game, that might be a bit more of a concern than it has been in the past.

Rushing Statistics

  • Rushing S&P+: The offensive/defensive components of S&P+ for rushing plays only.
  • Success Rate: Same thing for success rate: rushing plays only.
  • IsoPPP: The explosiveness metric for only rushing plays.
  • Adj. Line Yards: Measures the success of offensive/defensive lines. One of only two opponent-adjusted numbers for offensive/defensive lines, this is presented on a scale in which 100.0 is perfectly average, above 100 is good, below 100 is bad.
  • Opportunity Rate: The percentage of carries (when five yards are available) that gain at least five yards, i.e. the percentage of carries in which the line does its job, so to speak.
  • Power Success Rate: The percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown.
  • Stuff Rate: The percentage of carries by running backs that are stopped at or before the line of scrimmage.
  • season goes on (or teams that get devastated by early injuries after looking great).

Rushing Stats Baylor Oklahoma State EDGE
Rushing S&P+ 16 (118.8) 42 (107.5) Baylor
Rushing Success Rate 2 (54.00%) 54 (40.40%) BAYLOR
Rushing IsoPPP 25 (1.16) 64 (1.07) Baylor
Adj. Line Yards 11 (117.8) 40 (107.4) Baylor
Opportunity Rate 1 (50.50%) 82 (39.90%) BAYLOR
Power Success Rate 8 (81.20%) 66 (65.80%) BAYLOR
Stuff Rate 4 (13.70%) 48 (21.20%) BAYLOR

Rushing attack is one of those areas that before Saturday night, I was highly confident in. But Oklahoma was able to gain numbers advantage in the box so frequently and used it to such great effect that I’m now a bit gun shy on these metrics, despite the overwhelming advantage held by Baylor. I’ve said it here and on the podcast so often that it’s become my mantra of the season: the key to unlocking the potential of Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin is the presence of an edge rushing threat; in the present makeup of our offense, that means a mobile quarterback. Whether it was due to Jarrett Stidham’s injury, the rain, or just concern over losing a second quarterback, that aspect of our ground game was wholly absent from Saturday’s tilt with Oklahoma (and the previous week’s game with K-State, for that matter). If Stidham isn’t fully healed by Saturday, I don’t see them taking any chances there. Can the offensive line compensate in a numbers advantage situation?

The numbers here suggest that it’s possible. What’s interesting to me is the stats for Oklahoma State’s defensive line. The defensive front of Oklahoma State can be run on, according to these stats. You’d think that with Emmanuel Ogbah this defensive line’s stats would be higher on run defense, but perhaps he’s just really good at pass rush, less so at run defense? Feel free to enlighten.

Passing Statistics

  • Passing S&P+: The offensive/defensive components of S&P+ for pasing plays only.
  • Success Rate: Same thing for success rate: passing plays only.
  • IsoPPP: The explosiveness metric for only passing plays.
  • Adj. Sack Rate: The other opponent-adjusted on this page for offensive/defensive lines; a version of a team’s sack rate – sacks divided by (sacks plus passes), presented on a scale in which 100 is perfectly average, above 100 is good, below 100 is bad.
Passing Stats Baylor Oklahoma State EDGE
Passing S&P+ 3 (138.6) 24 (116.2) Baylor
Passing Success Rate 3 (51.80%) 26 (35.40%) Baylor
Passing IsoPPP 4 (2.04) 57 (1.43) BAYLOR
Adj. Sack Rate 13 (188.8) 17 (141.7) EVEN

Advantage: Baylor. The place where the Bears had success against OU in the second half was through the air, despite the relatively close numbers. How will Stidham’s back be? Their sack rate is the thing to pay close attention to here. Gone is that goose egg from the Baylor side of things (actually, that number was below, but still). Stidham takes more sacks that Russell did. I chalk that up to the fact that he’s a true freshman and doesn’t quite have that timer in his head that tells him he’s been standing still too long. On the other hand, we also saw him take off on scrambles a bit quickly last weekend. This is where Ogbah will come into play. The Bears will have to get creative to neutralize him. He was quiet in the first half against Iowa State, but then woke up and went on a tear. Limiting Ogbah’s ability to wreak havoc in the backfield is going to be a key to giving Stidham the time he needs in the pocket to make something happen through the air.

Situational Statistics

  • Standard Downs: First down, Second-and–7 or fewer, Third-and–4 or fewer, Fourth-and–4 or fewer. SD stats are looking at components for Standard Downs only.
  • SD Line Yards Per Carry: The raw, unadjusted per-carry line yardage for a team on standard downs.
  • SD Sack Rate: Unadjusted sack rate for standard downs pass attempts.
  • Passing Downs: Those downs that are not standard. Second-and–8 or more, Third-and–5 or more, Fourth-and–5 or more. PD stats are looking at components for Passing Downs only.
  • PD Line Yards Per Carry: The same unadjusted averages for rushing on passing downs.
  • PD Sack Rate: Unadjusted sack rate for passing downs pass attempts.
Standard Downs Baylor Oklahoma State EDGE
Standard Downs S&P+ 1 (132.7) 46 (105.5) BAYLOR
Standard Downs Success Rate 1 (58.80%) 46 (43.80%) BAYLOR
Standard Downs IsoPPP 1 (1.46) 68 (1.09) BAYLOR
SD Line Yards per Carry 1 (3.99) 62 (2.84) BAYLOR
SD Sack Rate 24 (2.50%) 25 (6.40%) EVEN
Passing Downs Baylor Oklahoma State EDGE
Passing Downs S&P+ 39 (113.3) 11 (129.2) Oklahoma State
Passing Downs Success Rate 26 (35.80%) 23 (25.40%) EVEN
Passing Downs IsoPPP 14 (2.04) 66 (1.76) BAYLOR
PD Line Yards per Carry 65 (3.23) 78 (3.33) Baylor
PD Sack Rate 21 (4.80%) 3 (15.10%) Oklahoma State

Baylor’s got the edge on Standard Downs, while it’s more of a toss-up on passing downs. The Passing Downs sack rate is the number I referenced above. Baylor didn’t give up a single sack on passing downs until Kansas State, but since then, that number has plummeted fairly rapidly. Keeping pressure on Stidham is going to be a priority for Oklahoma State. They’ll have seen what OU’s line did to him, and it’s generally a good idea to keep a young QB off balance. Even if they don’t get the sacks, they’ll want to put him on his back as frequently as possible. The offensive line will have to do a much better job than they did against the OU D-Line, both on rushing and passing plays. They got pretty well manhandled by OU’s defensive scheme for most of the game. How will the Bears fare against the Cowboys?

FEI

  • FEI: The offensive/defensive components of the Fremeau Efficiency Index.
  • Efficiency: The scoring value generated by a team’s offense per possession.
  • First Down Rate: The percentage of offensive drives that result in at least one first down or touchdown..
  • Available Yards Percentage: The total number of yards earned on offensive drives as a percentage of the total number of yards available based on starting field position.
  • Explosive Drive Rate: The percentage of offensive drives that earn at least 10 yards per play.
  • Methodical Drive Rate: The percentage of offensive drives that last at least 10 plays.
  • Value Drive Rate: The percentage of offensive drives that begin at least 50 yards from the end zone and reach the opponent’s 30-yard line.
FEI Stats Oklahoma State Baylor EDGE
FEI 3 (1.25) 24 (0.47) Baylor
Efficiency 3 (1.76) 38 (0.14) Baylor
First Down Rate 12 (0.81) 35 (0.672) Baylor
Avail. Yds. % 4 (0.631) 40 (0.406) Baylor
Explosive Drives 2 (0.324) 39 (0.109) Baylor
Methodical Drives 77 (0.124) 103 (0.168) Baylor
Value Drives 2 (0.6) 50 (0.345) BAYLOR

FEI likes Baylor, but less than it did last week. Does this surprise anyone?

As I write this, Craig Smoak is reporting that Stidham isn’t as far along as Briles would like him to be. Honestly, I feel that the Bears’ success completely hinges on how the freshman quarterback’s back is doing at game time. Will he be able to make those deadly accurate throws with a bad back? At this point, I’m pretty much writing off the possibility of the coaches giving him more freedom to use his legs. Unless Briles is playing us (which he very well may be), I don’t think that the Cowboys’ front 7 will have to account for Stidham in the rushing game. It’s going to be on Shock Linwood, Devin Chafin and the offensive line to make the magic happen on the ground.

When Oklahoma State Has The Ball…

Factor Stat Oklahoma State Baylor EDGE
S&P+ 20 (37.7) 74 (29.6) OKLAHOMA STATE
EFFICIENCY Success Rate 37 (44.70%) 44 (38.50%) EVEN
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 18 (1.37) 66 (1.25) OKLAHOMA STATE
FIELD POSITION Avg. FP 25 (32.2) 69 (29.7) OKLAHOMA STATE
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4 (5.59) 69 (4.69) OKLAHOMA STATE

Big advantages here for Oklahoma State. With the injuries along both the defensive line and the secondary, the Cowboys could have a field day with this defense. They’re explosive and they finish drives nearly as well as Baylor does.

Rushing Stats Oklahoma State Baylor EDGE
Rushing S&P+ 118 (84.3) 22 (117) BAYLOR
Rushing Success Rate 97 (40.10%) 47 (39.80%) BAYLOR
Rushing IsoPPP 104 (0.98) 24 (0.96) BAYLOR
Adj. Line Yards 126 (76.9) 14 (118.6) BAYLOR
Opportunity Rate 82 (37.90%) 20 (33.80%) BAYLOR
Power Success Rate 49 (69.40%) 35 (60.00%) Baylor
Stuff Rate 88 (21.10%) 22 (23.60%) BAYLOR

This is another table that would bring me great comfort except for a couple of things: (1) our defensive line is incredibly banged up, and (2) Oklahoma State doesn’t stress too much about running the ball outside of the red zone. The first one is the one that is the greatest concern to me. With these injuries, you might as well throw these stats out the window for all the good they’ll do us from a predictive standpoint. Even if the Bears are strong on the run, the Cowboys will just shrug, smile and throw yet another pass. Why? Take a look…

Passing Stats Oklahoma State Baylor EDGE
Passing S&P+ 27 (117.1) 65 (99.8) Oklahoma State
Passing Success Rate 13 (48.60%) 35 (36.80%) Oklahoma State
Passing IsoPPP 25 (1.64) 120 (1.7) OKLAHOMA STATE
Adj. Sack Rate 47 (115) 94 (83.4) OKLAHOMA STATE

Oh my. That’s…. not a good look. Oklahoma State’s passing attack is consistent and it’s deadly. They’re one of the best in terms of success rate, and they’re frequently explosive. With injuries to both the defensive line and to the secondary, I’m not confident the defense can hold the Cowboys in check in Stillwater.

Standard Downs Oklahoma State Baylor EDGE
Standard Downs S&P+ 105 (91.3) 14 (119.2) BAYLOR
Standard Downs Success Rate 71 (46.40%) 23 (41.00%) BAYLOR
Standard Downs IsoPPP 81 (1.07) 38 (1.04) BAYLOR
SD Line Yards per Carry 114 (2.5) 22 (2.46) BAYLOR
SD Sack Rate 98 (6.80%) 34 (6.00%) BAYLOR
Passing Downs Oklahoma State Baylor EDGE
Passing Downs S&P+ 8 (132.1) 99 (89.5) OKLAHOMA STATE
Passing Downs Success Rate 3 (41.40%) 98 (34.00%) OKLAHOMA STATE
Passing Downs IsoPPP 16 (2.03) 59 (1.74) OKLAHOMA STATE
PD Line Yards per Carry 117 (2.23) 116 (3.8) EVEN
PD Sack Rate 8 (3.20%) 53 (7.90%) OKLAHOMA STATE

Same story as above. Strong run defense stops Standard Downs, strong passing game overcomes it on Passing Downs. Injuries on the defensive side of the ball turn all of this into one giant question mark. I don’t like the look of things on this side of the ball, folks.

FEI Stats Oklahoma State Baylor EDGE
FEI 35 (0.38) 55 (0.15) Oklahoma State
Efficiency 16 (1.01) 61 (–0.12) OKLAHOMA STATE
First Down Rate 42 (0.748) 57 (0.716) Oklahoma State
Avail. Yds. % 25 (0.534) 56 (0.437) Oklahoma State
Explosive Drives 33 (0.174) 33 (0.105) EVEN
Methodical Drives 55 (0.139) 22 (0.105) Baylor
Value Drives 30 (0.458) 42 (0.33) Oklahoma State

Conclusions

Honestly, I’m not sure that we can draw many conclusions from these numbers this week, other than the Bears are in some trouble if Stidham isn’t 100% ready to go and the defense doesn’t find a way to plug bodies into holes. Briles says they’re looking at younger players to fill in on the secondary as need be. Are we talking about Taion Sells and Alfred Pullom or are there other names that they’re talking about? We’ll see. At any rate, the defense is going to have to have a near-perfect game, applying persistent pressure on Mason Rudolph while playing good coverage at the same time and getting some bounces go their way in the form of interceptions or perhaps fumbles that don’t just bounce directly back to the quarterback like they did last Saturday. Without those things, we may see any hopes of a CFP berth evaporate along with our aspirations for a Big 12 3-peat.