10/10/12 BAYLOR (7-1, 4-1) vs. 16/16/15 OKLAHOMA (4-2, 2-1)
Nov. 8, 2014 | 11:00 a.m. CT
Norman, Okla. | Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (82,112)
TV: FOX Sports 1
|Listen | Gametracker | Notes | Tickets | Gameday Central|
OPPONENT: Oklahoma Sooners
ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma Sooners 2014
ODB PREDICTS: NONE THIS WEEK
MEET THE PRESS: Baylor vs. Oklahoma
SB NATION BLOG: Crimson and Cream Machine, at right
SPREAD: Oklahoma -5.5 (Open: OU -2.5)
TV COVERAGE: FOX Sports 1, 11:00 a.m. CST
WEATHER FORECAST: Sunny skies with high winds out of the North at 15-30 mph. High of 59° F (Wunderground puts the temp at 56° at game time, winds at 19mph.).
BAYLOR UNIFORMS: Green-White-Green
Everyone knows at this point that Baylor is missing three starters for the rest of the year in LE Jamal Palmer, RG Desmine Hilliard, and RT Troy Baker. Thankfully, Baylor escaped Homecoming with no other injuries to the team. In fact, apart from the three I've listed here, the Bears are likely as healthy as they've been all season. It couldn't come at a better time.
From what I've been able to gather, the two players that the Sooners may have injury issues with are Keith Ford and Sterling Shepard. Shepard is slated to play, though how effective he will be with a groin injury remains to be seen. Ford is listed on the OU sports-reference page as questionable. I believe I've read elsewhere that he will play, but most likely won't see significant playing time. I'll try and check up on that if I get the time.
Once again, the week's work obligations kept Mark from doing his fully-fledged Advanced Stats post, so we'll go into it a bit here.
My short primer on the EDGE column for the uninitiated:
EVEN = 10 or fewer ranking spots difference
Lowercase = 11-39 ranking spots difference
UPPERCASE = 40 or more ranking spots difference.
It's important to remember that these stats don't care about wins and losses; they care about how well you play. The truth of Baylor's game in Morgantown? We didn't play well at all. These stats reflect why we lost, not that we lost, if that makes sense.
According to F/+, the units in this game stack up as follows:
1. Oklahoma Offense (#5)
2. Oklahoma Special Teams (#8)
3. Baylor Offense (#20)
4. Baylor Defense (#23)
5. Oklahoma Defense (#25)
6. Baylor Special Teams (#28)
This is absolutely mind-boggling to me. There is not a single unit that will play in this game that isn't ranked in the Top 30 of the individual F/+ rankings by unit, and only one ranked outside the Top 25: Baylor's Special Teams. This is going to be an intense matchup.
Like Mark did last week - for the next two sections, I'm going to dispense with most of the commentary and just identify the parts that might play a big role.
When Baylor Has the Ball:
|Offensive/Defensive FEI Rk
|First Down Rate||10 (.772)
|Available Yards Rate||9 (.582)
|Explosive Drives||11 (.207)
|Methodical Drives||19 (.185)
|Value Drives||12 (.526)
||22 (115.6)||17 (121.0)
|Std. Downs S&P Rk||26 (118.8)||16 (121.6)||Oklahoma|
|Pass. Downs S&P Rk||36 (117.3)||23 (128.3)||Oklahoma
|Rushing S&P+ Rk||49 (108.8)||14 (131.3)||Oklahoma
|Passing S&P+ Rk||20 (127.6)
Since this is my first real stab at this sort of post, I'll say this at the outset: I'm still relatively new at really trying to understand the stats, so I have a more difficult time breaking things down thank Mark does. As a result, I'm going to be pretty brief with this at this point.
The most interesting thing to me is the even split in preference: FEI loves us, while S&P+ prefers Oklahoma. If you've read any of these posts before or paid attention to the Football Outsiders advanced stats, you know that FEI looks at drive-based data, whereas S&P+ is focused on individual play data. Drilling down to the individual components of S&P+ sheds a little bit of light. One place where S&P+ and FEI agree are on explosiveness ratings. Baylor has a significant advantage in IsoPPP, with the #4 Offense against the #95 ranked defense, which fits what we know about Oklahoma's secondary. Additionally, the Havoc rates for Oklahoma's defense are fairly pedestrian.
While the strength vs. weakness is explosive drives, Baylor has to establish its ground attack to then be able to beat Oklahoma over the top. That hasn't exactly been their strongest suit, but with the running back corps getting healthy, we may have the opportunity to see just that tomorrow.
When Oklahoma Has the Ball:
|Offensive/Defensive FEI Rk
||37 (-.284)||6 (.650)
|First Down Rate||5 (.506)
|Available Yards Rate||9 (.318)
|Explosive Drives||60 (.126)
|Methodical Drives||13 (.069)
|Value Drives||8 (.250)
||14 (121.4)||5 (129.9)||EVEN|
|Play Rating||31 (117.0)||3 (143.9)||Oklahoma
|Std. Downs S&P Rk||39 (108.6)
|Pass. Downs S&P Rk||15 (134.9)||6 (158.1)||EVEN
|Rushing S&P+ Rk||28 (115.7)||2 (148.5)||Oklahoma
|Passing S&P+ Rk||28 (118.2)
Once again, FEI seems to lean slightly towards Baylor, while S&P+ trends in favor of Oklahoma. We know Baylor's weakness this year has been explosive drives (the over-generalized "chunk it deep, receivers will either catch it or get 15 yards in penalties"). But we also know that Trevor Knight's strength is with his legs, and as we discussed on the podcast yesterday, he's most comfortable when he establishes his own run game before airing it out. Should Oklahoma attempt to establish the run first and foremost before airing it out, that could very well benefit Baylor's defense. The key for Baylor's defense will be to stopping Oklahoma's multi-faceted rushing attack. Should they achieve success in that regard early, they could have a chance.
|F/+ Special Teams
|Special Teams Efficiency
|Field Goal Efficiency
|Punt Return Efficiency
|Kickoff Return Efficiency
|Opponent Field Goal Efficiency
As I said on the podcast, I've had a tough time with this game. Looking at the stats, listening to the pundits, or reading all of the columns might lead you to believe that Baylor wasn't actually playing in this game, or that the outcome had already been decided. The last time that I can remember such a lopsided slant against Baylor was 2012, when an unranked 5-loss Baylor squad was facing off against the #1-ranked Kansas State team. We've said it often that Art Briles thrives in the "they don't believe in us" environment. It certainly seems like this game would be right in his wheelhouse, and were the game at home, my confidence in Baylor would be high.
But it's not at home, and that's what's giving many of Baylor fans pause. But each year under Art Briles, Baylor has achieved something that it hasn't ever done before. I'm not 100% certain that the first this time is a road win in Norman, but that's where I'm going. If Baylor can establish their presence on the ground early, it will force Striker to stay at home and protect Bryce Petty, giving him the time he needs to make the right reads. I am confident in our defensive line to shut down Oklahoma's rushing attack, preventing a reappearance of Sugar Bowl Trevor. The game is close at half time, but Baylor is able to pull away late for a statement win on the road.
And unfortunately, we will NOT see Andrew Billings drop back as a coverage safety. Our dreams are dashed.
Final Score: Baylor 42, Oklahoma 31.
Give me your predictions in the comments below and vote in the poll! Again, sorry for this going up so late!