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FIRST LOOK: #19 BYU Cougars

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I know it’s Wednesday night. Sorry.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

MATCHUP: Baylor Bears (5-1, 3-1) vs. #19 BYU Cougars (5-1, )
LOCATION: Waco, Texas
ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. BYU Cougars 2021
OPPONENT’S SB NATION BLOG: Vanquish The Foe (VTF)
BYU DEPTH CHART/INJURY UPDATE: From VTF
COLLEGEFOOTBALLDATA.COM TEAM PAGES: Baylor | BYU
WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE: BYU
GAME NOTES (INCLUDING DEPTH CHART): Here.
BAYLORBEARS.COM PREVIEW: Here.
SPREAD: Baylor -6.5, O/U 50.5
TV COVERAGE: ESPN, 2:30 p.m. Saturday
UNIFORM: Sailor Bear is Back! And there’s new gear!

WEATHER (IN WACO): From Wunderground—Absolutely gorgeous for the first time this year at home. High of 73 degrees on Saturday with a game-time temperature of about 70, low of 45 that night, light winds from the NNE. Almost no chance of rain or significant cloud cover. Weather cannot and should not be a reason not to attend this game if you have the chance.

If you are planning on going to the parade in the morning, it could be pretty chilly at around 50 degrees at 8 AM, warming to 61 by 10 AM. Take a jacket for that part, for sure.

How Did We Get Here?

Coming off a huge win over WVU last week, Baylor is now 5-1 on the season and 3-1 in Big 12 play. Coming off their loss to Boise State, BYU is now also 5-1 on the season and not in a conference yet so whatever. They will be soon! The schedules:

Baylor

G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
1 4-Sep-21 7:00 PM Sat Baylor Texas State Sun Belt 29 20 1 0 W 1
2 11-Sep-21 7:00 PM Sat Baylor Texas Southern Non-Major 66 7 2 0 W 2
3 18-Sep-21 3:30 PM Sat Baylor Kansas Big 12 45 7 3 0 W 3
4 25-Sep-21 3:30 PM Sat Baylor (14) Iowa State Big 12 31 29 4 0 W 4
5 2-Oct-21 7:00 PM Sat (21) Baylor (19) Oklahoma State Big 12 14 24 4 1 L 1
6 9-Oct-21 12:00 PM Sat Baylor West Virginia Big 12 45 20 5 1 W 1

BYU

G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
1 4-Sep-21 10:30 PM Sat BYU Arizona Pac-12 24 16 1 0 W 1
2 11-Sep-21 10:15 PM Sat BYU (21) Utah Pac-12 26 17 2 0 W 2
3 18-Sep-21 10:15 PM Sat (23) BYU (19) Arizona State Pac-12 27 17 3 0 W 3
4 25-Sep-21 10:15 PM Sat (15) BYU South Florida American 35 27 4 0 W 4
5 1-Oct-21 9:00 PM Fri (13) BYU Utah State MWC 34 20 5 0 W 5
6 9-Oct-21 3:30 PM Sat (10) BYU Boise State MWC 17 26 5 1 L 1

DID YOU KNOW: Unless UVA (currently 4-2) goes nuts in the ACC, we are the most likely team on BYU’s remaining schedule to finish the season ranked?

Advanced Stats Overview:

Baylor vs. BYU (F+)

Rk Team F+ OF+ Rk DF+ Rk FEI Rk SP+ Rk
Rk Team F+ OF+ Rk DF+ Rk FEI Rk SP+ Rk
23 Baylor 0.89 0.43 45 1.06 17 0.44 27 13.7 23
34 BYU 0.66 1.01 16 0.31 52 0.41 31 9 43

You can be forgiven if you look at this and think “that doesn’t look like a 6.5-point spread sort of game to me” because honestly, I agree with you. SP+, which focuses on play-by-play data, thinks this game is a much less even matchup than FEI, which focuses on possessions, in that FEI thinks BYU is a pretty good team. I tend to agree with FEI, partly because it likes our offense more and our defense less than SP+ does, and I agree with both of those things, too. That, of course, does not take into consideration injuries or similar information specific to this game (except to the extent they affected other games) whereas Vegas does. Let’s look deeper at the FEI matchup since we have that info available:

Baylor vs. BYU (FEI)

Rk Team FEI OFEI Rk DFEI Rk NDE Rk NPD Rk NAY Rk NPP Rk ELS Rk GLS Rk ALS Rk
Rk Team FEI OFEI Rk DFEI Rk NDE Rk NPD Rk NAY Rk NPP Rk ELS Rk GLS Rk ALS Rk
27 Baylor 0.44 0.43 37 0.5 25 1 25 0.96 25 0.106 32 1.43 18 0.62 58 1.4 66 2.45 72
31 BYU 0.41 0.85 12 0.24 41 0.95 27 0.71 33 0.063 44 1.29 25 0.55 72 1.49 56 2.94 31

As I said above, if you believe in FEI, you believe this game should be pretty close unless something it doesn’t consider comes into play. FEI likes their offense over ours, but our defense over theirs. Overall we have a slightly better Net Drive Efficiency, Net Points per Drive, Net Available Yards, and Net Points per Play, but all of that is relatively close. Nothing blows BYU out of the water here, nor did I expect it to. BYU may have been banged up last week going into the Boise State game, but from VTF’s injury report linked above, they’re getting healthier, and we should expect them to play more in line with their better games rather than their worst. And that includes not expecting them to have the kind of horrible turnover luck they had against Boise, too. I think this one is going to be close.

One edge that Baylor might have is knowledge of their players and system from having stolen OC Jeff Grimes, OL coach Eric Mateos, and offensive grad assistant-turned-offensive QC coach Matt Mitchell from the Cougars this offseason. It’s impossible to quantify what that edge might look like, but it’s something worth noting.

What Others are Saying:

A sampling of tweets/links, a light soaking, if you will.