Ok, we are changing things up considerably this week as an experiment for how I'll do this going forward. I'm basing the new format off something I saw on FootballOutsiders that seemed more effective to me at actually comparing the two teams than just the numbers themselves.
As you see below, I've now reorganized things vertically in order to make space on the right-hand side for a new column summarizing how the two teams compare. If I can figure out how to do the HTML in the future, I'll add a little graphic in the place of the team name to make it look prettier. For now, you just get names.
Beneath the section at the top showing how the teams compare generally are two subsections putting each offense against the opposing defense. It should be pretty obvious what "When Baylor Has the Ball" means, but if it isn't, that's our offense against their defense. The opposite is true just below that.
Next week, this chart will expand somewhat as we start to get the individual numbers comprising FEI. That means this week will be the last where we're relying almost solely on S&P+.
|2013 F/+ Rk||1 (5)||47||BAYLOR|
|2013 F/+ Special Teams
|2013 FEI Rk||17 (11)||46||BAYLOR|
|2013 S&P+ Rk||1 (3)||58||BAYLOR|
Has the Ball ...
|2013 Success Rate
|2013 Points Per Play
|2013 Rushing S&P+ Rk||1 (2)||92||BAYLOR|
|2013 Passing S&P+ Rk||1 (1)||29||BAYLOR|
|2013 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk||1 (1)||69||BAYLOR|
|2013 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk||1 (1)||23||BAYLOR|
Has the Ball ...
|2013 Success Rate
|2013 Points Per Play
|2013 Rushing S&P+ Rk||2 (2)||59||BAYLOR|
|2013 Passing S&P+ Rk||45 (68)||37||KSU|
|2013 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk||8 (10)||33||Baylor|
|2013 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk||11 (44)||84||BAYLOR|
Looking at this chart, it's no secret why Baylor is the heavy favorite (-17) to win the game. In fact, the only real question is why the spread isn't higher, considering Baylor has easily the better offense and possibly, depending on your trust in S&P+ and its various submetrics, the better defense. The answer to that is probably two-fold: 1) the game is in Manhattan, and 2) Bill Snyder.
Considering our vast superiority on offense versus KSU's defense, Snyder's gameplan seems simple. We've actually seen a close approximation of it quite recently, in fact, the last time we went to Manhattan to play. Snyder will try to deny our offense the ball, leaning on his defense to take away the big play while simultaneously grinding out drives on offense. I wholeheartedly expect that he will eventually play QB Daniel Sams to that end, in order to establish a running game against our defense and chew up the clock. People laughed when he said he would take the first snap into the lockerroom until halftime because it was funny, but I don't think he was being entirely facetious. He will attempt to limit our possessions in the hope that the score stays close, his defense can swipe a turnover or two, and our offense starts to press when things don't go so easily as they have.
The problem with the "2011 Plan", as I call it, is that neither team is the 2011 version of itself. In fact, neither team is the 2012 version of itself, either. Baylor's offense is probably better now than that run by Robert Griffin III or Nick Florence, and of the last three Kansas State defenses, this one is probably the worst. While good against the pass, they suffer greatly in run defense, leading to a situation where they are notably better on passing downs than standard downs. Although many still think of our offense as one that lives and dies by the pass, it is very much predicated on the run in everything it does. If they can't stop that, they will not stop us.
Taking that into account, and given the fact that Bryce Petty has never started a road game before, I would expect that Baylor's offense will skew heavily toward the run in the initial stages, in part to take advantage of KSU's relative weakness, and in part to take pressure off Petty himself. That means lots of carries for Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, something that will either delight or frustrate (because it means fewer targets for Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese) the Baylor faithful. Of course, we thought we might see the same thing in at least three of the last four games, and Petty has come out throwing darts almost from the get-go. Given that this is game is on the road, however, I don't expect it.
For Baylor's defense, the key is clear: stop the run. Though we want to run the ball and will do so if we can choose, they have to, especially if Sams plays as I expect. Their offense is not designed to strike down the field, especially if Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson aren't playing, so they will try to bludgeon us to death. If those two don't play, and Sams does, expect to see Ahmad Dixon and Terell Burt drawn up close (within 10 yards of the LOS) as we did last week. Stopping the run and forcing KSU to throw is everything.
I know there are a lot of people out there on the Baylor side who are looking at this game with trepidation. That's totally normal and probably prudent. I'm definitely not saying I think we will roast them like we have everyone else, to date. But I do think we will win and comfortably this weekend. We are the better team in almost every respect, and I don't see KSU's defense stopping our offense on a consistent basis. Beyond that, I don't see KSU's offense scoring enough points on our defense to take advantage, if they do. One thing we absolutely cannot do, assuming Kansas State has even a modicum of success in limiting the overall number of possessions, is beat ourselves through special teams and turnovers, especially the former. Giving a team like Kansas State easy points is inviting trouble. Doing it on the road, where their fans would take any lead as cause to go absolutely ballistic, inviting disaster.
Oh, and if I'm asked to guess on uniforms, I'd say we're going stormtroopers or something similar. I know people will hate it.