Welp. I think it’s safe to say that Saturday didn’t go as planned. Despite Oklahoma State having an apparent advantage throwing the ball and Baylor having an apparent advantage running the ball, Baylor outgained Oklahoma State through the air with 325 yards to 213, and Oklahoma State outgained Baylor on the ground with 166 yards to 112. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
For all the masochists out there, here’s what the stats say about the game. You’ll feel better about Baylor as a team, but worse about Baylor letting this game slip away.
When Baylor was on offense
Baylor came out firing on their first drive, passing on the first five plays of the game. They’d end the day with 40 pass attempts and a respectable 47.5% success rate on those passes (percent of plays that earn 50%/70%/100% of yards to gain on first/second/third and fourth down, respectively). That success rate is good nationally (~60th percentile) but even better considering Oklahoma State typically holds their opponent closer to 40%.
Shapen was accurate, registering a 70% completion percentage, but not overly explosive. He averaged 12.3 yards per completion, far below what Oklahoma State typically allows (15+), and only 10.7% of completions went for 20+ yards, also far below what Oklahoma State typically allows (20%+). He had a career high two interceptions, though the first was more the fault of his intended receiver.
Most quizzically (frustratingly?), Baylor’s running backs had only 23 rushes. They made the most of their limited carries, though. Baylor had a 50% success rate on rushes, which is near the 75th percentile in the country, and roughly 20 percentage points above what Oklahoma State typically allows.
Baylor’s 4.5 non-sack yards per carry are good enough to win most games. It’s more efficient than what Baylor earned against both Iowa State and BYU, and it’s half a yard better than what Oklahoma State typically allows.
Two other stats worth mentioning: Baylor’s 3rd/4th down conversion rate on the ground and their stuff rate. The Bears practically doubled Oklahoma State’s average conversion rate allowed with 37.5% and halved their average stuff rate with 17.9%. *Slams head into keyboard repeatedly*
When Baylor was on defense
The defensive recap could be really short — Baylor couldn’t tackle Spencer Sanders when he scrambled, but they limited the rest of the team in almost every other dimension.
Passing success rate allowed? Approximately 10 percentage points below Okie State’s season average. Yards per completion? Approximately 4 yards per completion below their season average. Explosive plays? Less than half their season average.
Oklahoma State is a good team, so holding them below their average isn’t necessarily enough to win. A “below average” outing for an elite offense is still pretty good. That’s not the case here. Okie State’s success rate, yards per completion, and explosive play rate were all below what Baylor held Iowa State and BYU to, and the latter two stats were near the 25th percentile nationally.
Unfortunately, Baylor allowed a 50% conversion rate on 3rd/4th down when Sanders dropped back to pass, which is in the 75th percentile nationally, and they failed to sack Sanders a single time. As a small comfort, no other teams have been able to sack him in non-garbage time, either?
I have two things to say about Baylor’s rush defense. First, Baylor held a mediocre Oklahoma State running game to a below average yards per carry (<25th percentile nationally), line yards per carry (<25th percentile nationally), explosive run rate (<40th percentile), and 3rd/4th down conversion rate (<40th percentile). Second, Baylor allowed a 50% success rate on running plays (~75th percentile). In other words, Baylor limited big gains but frequently allowed just enough yards for Oklahoma State to stay on schedule.
I don’t mention special teams in my game previews because, frankly, there usually isn’t enough of a difference in season averages to say anything insightful. Blocked punts, 50+ yard field goals, and KO returns for TDs are rare events and difficult to predict. On Saturday, in a game where Baylor seemingly outplayed their opponent enough to grind out a win, a poor punt return decision and uncharacteristic non-touchback on a kickoff were enough to tip the outcome the other way.
Lowest postgame win expectancy in a win, Week 5:— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) October 2, 2022
LSU > Auburn (8%)
Rice > UAB (8%)
Buffalo > Mia-OH (20%)
UConn > Fresno (29%)
Okla St > Baylor (45%)
Ball St > NIU (47%)
Ga Tech > Pitt (47%)
Wake > FSU (48%)
Auburn: ridiculously unlikely W in Wk4, ridiculously unlikely L in Wk5.
Data courtesy of CollegeFootballData.com. Calculations performed by author. All statistics exclude garbage time.