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Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Stats Preview

So we come again to the Biggest Game of the Year for the Bears, just two weeks after our last BGOTY. The state from which our opponent comes is the same, but the team is different. Here come the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

After the overwhelming response to last week's poll question about the proper format of this post, here we are. Finally, a week without tinkers.

A Few Notes:

If you're an Oklahoma State fan or someone who hasn't seen my stats posts before, I already know the labels in the EDGE column are totally arbitrary. I've tried to tailor them a bit in recent weeks, but I still haven't found a good way to do this.
EVEN = 10 or fewer ranking spots difference
Lowercase = 40 or fewer ranking spots difference
UPPERCASE = 40 or more ranking spots difference.

2013 FootballOutsiders Metrics for the Baylor Bears vs. the Oklahoma St. Cowboys



Baylor (9-0)

Oklahoma State (9-1)


Overall F/+ Rk 3 (42.1%)
20 (22.4%)
Overall FEI Rk 6 (.262)
13 (.211)
Overall S&P+ Rk 2 (298.1)
26 (232.0)
Field Position Advantage 18 (.541) 8 (.560) EVEN

As always, we're taking numbers talking about what has been and applying them to what might be. Everybody sees that going in. I still feel pretty good about it, though, because these numbers tell us something about where the teams are. And where you are at least informs where you might be going.

So, by the overall measures, Baylor is the better team at the outset. FEI likes Oklahoma State more than S&P+, mostly because it absolutely loves the Cowboy defense, ranking them 12th in the country. That is actually higher than it places our own at 15th. We'll get into why below.

Looking at the individual units:
1. Baylor O (25.0%)
2. Baylor D (17.4%)
3. Oklahoma State D (15.1%)
4. Oklahoma State O (6.3%)
5. Oklahoma State ST (.9%)
6. Baylor ST (-.3%)

By F/+, Baylor will have the best two units on the field Saturday. Does that mean we will win? Of course not, since the fact that this is a road game for the favorite will likely have at least some role to play.

When Baylor Has the Ball:


Baylor Off

Oklahoma State Def


Offensive/Defensive FEI Rk
9 (.558)
12 (-.543)
1 (1.108)
5 (-.552)
First Down Rate
1 (.854)
19 (.597)
Available Yards Rate
2 (.693)
9 (.343)
Explosive Drives
1 (.365)
13 (.168)
Methodical Drives 89 (.125)
84 (.168)
Value Drives
3 (.617)
9 (.261)
Offensive/Defensive S&P+
2 (156.0) 15 (125.7)
Play Efficiency
2 (157.0)
27 (113.6) Baylor
Std. Downs S&P+ Rk.
2 (139.6)
33 (111.0) Baylor
Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 1 (193.5) 30 (115.2) Baylor
Rushing S&P+ Rk 12 (125.6) 22 (119.2) Baylor
Passing S&P+ Rk 1 (191.9)
44 (107.8) BAYLOR
Drive Efficiency 2 (159.1)
13 (137.9) Baylor
Difference in Net Points
2 (2.25)
16 (-1.37) Baylor

I'm not going to spend much time here extolling the virtues of the 2013 Baylor offense. You've heard it all before. Instead, I'll focus on how evident it becomes from looking at the numbers that there is a serious difference of opinion between FEI and S&P+ as to the leetness of Oklahoma State's defense.

Looking purely at FEI, this matchup stacks up quite evenly. OSU is very good at keeping opponents from gaining yards available based on starting field position. They also do not allow many explosive drives -- something we might put to the test on Saturday. The flip side of that is that they do allow methodical drives, probably by choice. They would rather force you to execute consistently down the field than give up the big play, much as we would have in years past.

For S&P+, it's a bit of a different story. There, the numbers don't love the OSU passing defense, a problem against the #1 passing offense in the country. They don't have an obvious weakness depending on the type of down faced, and are actually better against the run than the pass, not exactly what you would expect from a team fielding Justin Gilbert in the secondary. From what I can tell, Oklahoma State should be the best defense we've faced this year against the run, and considering the importance that aspect plays in our overall offense, that may be a problem.

Of course, the obvious response to that is that we are also the best rushing (and passing, for that matter) offense the Oklahoma State defense has yet faced by the numbers, the next-best being the Kansas State Wildcats. Led by Daniel Sams, they rushed for 144 yards on 38 carries for an average of 3.8 yards per carry. The relative lack of a passing threat from Sams at that point no doubt contributed to that. It's also worth noting that Kansas State ran a grand total of 56 offensive plays in that entire game. Oklahoma State ran just 49!

Assuming the weather doesn't hamper things tremendously (and it might), we should be able to throw on this team. Baylor has faced 6 teams already with higher ranks against the pass -- Oklahoma, 10th in Passing S&P+; Iowa State, 19th; Kansas State, 27th; Buffalo, 40th; Kansas, 43rd -- and done so successfully against all of them to varying degrees. If Gilbert is at all limited by his shoulder injury, all the better for our chances in this area.

When Oklahoma State Has the Ball:


Baylor Def

Oklahoma State Off


Offensive/Defensive FEI Rk
15 (-.469)
36 (.249)
14 (-.465)
49 (.130)
First Down Rate
9 (.557)
55 (.654)
Available Yards Rate
14 (.356)
53 (.486)
Explosive Drives
25 (.082)
42 (.154)
Methodical Drives 37 (.124)
113 (.085)
Value Drives
16 (.286)
57 (.398)
Offensive/Defensive S&P+
9 (142.1) 45 (106.3)
Play Efficiency
9 (126.7)
42 (107.5) Baylor
Std. Downs S&P+ Rk.
10 (128.3)
69 (100.1) BAYLOR
Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 18 (124.1) 19 (125.1) EVEN
Rushing S&P+ Rk 14 (122.4) 54 (104.5) BAYLOR
Passing S&P+ Rk 12 (127.4)
44 (107.3) Baylor
Drive Efficiency 8 (157.6)
48 (105.1) BAYLOR
Difference in Net Points
2 (-2.65)
30 (.44) Baylor

On this side, the split between FEI and S&P+ isn't nearly so big. In both, OSU's offense is ranked as above-average but not particularly good. Success on passing downs seems to be their strength despite the fact that they don't pass particularly well. I would imagine the fact that Oklahoma State has only allowed 8 sacks in 10 games contributes greatly to that relative disparity. Should Baylor be able to increase that number, a legitimate question given Clint Chelf's mobility, it would go a long way to limiting the Oklahoma State offense.

I'm a bit surprised that Oklahoma State, known as they are now for a strong rushing attack, doesn't actually run the ball all that well. That weakness contributes directly to a poor success rate on standard downs, something Baylor should be able to exploit. It also leads, I believe, directly to an extreme aversion to methodical drives. Baylor may try to take advantage by challenging Chelf the same way we have virtually every other QB we've faced thus far, playing our safeties close to the line and forcing everything deep.

There's not much here not to like as a Baylor fan, though it is worth noting that the longer Clint Chelf plays, the more OSU improves. Week 8 of the season was the first in which we had the full complement of FootballOutsiders' tools at our disposal, and the Cowboys have made relatively significant progress.

Special Teams:



Oklahoma State


F/+ Special Teams
75 46 Oklahoma State
Special Teams Efficiency
75 (-.206)
46 (.703)
Oklahoma State
Field Goal Efficiency
82 (-.075)
115 (-.519)
Punt Return Efficiency
95 (-.178)
54 (-.039)
Kickoff Return Efficiency
28 (-.042)
10 (.084)
Punt Efficiency
75 (-.039)
79 (-.034)
Kickoff Efficiency
63 (-.155)
32 (-.231)
Opponent Field Goal Efficiency
13 (-.398)
34 (-.140)

So ... what's going on with the field goals, Oklahoma State?

This part isn't much of a comparison. I don't really like talking about special teams.

The Bottom Line:

Everything predictable and quantifiable about this game says that Baylor should be favorites, and we are. We have a better offense than Oklahoma State. We have a better defense than Oklahoma State. As a result of those two things, we should be able to score more points than we give up. Unfortunately, football is hardly predictable. I don't have a way to forecast the kind of impact playing in Stillwater on Saturday night in the biggest game in program history will have. All I can do is trust that our coaches will have prepared our players adequately for the challenge.

It is critical in this game for Baylor to avoid the slow starts that have seemingly plagued us in recent games. Even though we seem to have the edge on both sides of the ball, should we get off on the wrong foot and allow Oklahoma State to seize the momentum (something I don't totally believe exists in practice but probably does when you're talking about crowd effects), we could have serious problems. They will be the best team we've played thus far (with Kansas State charging hard up the ranks), and their defense will be a formidable obstacle. Let no one say I am taking them lightly by expressing my belief that we are better; that just isn't true.