Texas Game Preview Part 4- Keys to the Game

Lets go over the 5 keys to the game, and give you a sneak peek of what will happen Saturday night as we look into our crystal ball of football fun.

Saturday is game day folks. Join us as we dig in to this game with a look at a statistical comparison, our 5 keys to the game, and a prediction!

Statistical Comparison

The Bears and Longhorns enter this game coming off of 2-straight losses. They have both fallen out of the AP and Coaches Poll, and have fallen in other more advanced statistical rankings as well. Below are the Overall Rankings from Football Outsiders.

Overall Ranks

Baylor

Rank

Texas

Rank

FEI

0.098

33

0.135

23

Game Efficiency

0.061

52

0.098

37

S&P+

208

42

235.8

12

F/+

3.80%

53

17.10%

20

*Courtesy of www.footballoutsiders.com

I am more of a fan of the FEI rankings, as they take into account the efficiency of the teams on both sides of the ball, and also if the caliber of opponent you are playing. The Bears are just 10 spots behind UT in this metric, and I feel that is about right. Let's take a deeper look at how each team breaks down in these rankings though:

Baylor

Rank

Texas

Rank

Off. FEI

1.04

1

0.247

28

Def. FEI

0.964

124

0.004

67

Special Teams FEI

0.444

54

3.391

3

Field Position

0.563

10

0.587

3

Off S&P+

125.8

11

123.7

13

Def S&P+

82.2

107

112.2

29

Off F/+

25.90%

1

10.30%

19

Def F/+

-22.70%

122

2.60%

48

Spec. Tms. F/+

0.60%

54

4.30%

3

*Courtesy of www.footballoutsiders.com

The Bears bring the #1 ranked offense according to FEI to the table, but also bring the worst defense in college football. So, yeah, that isn't very good. Texas is a bit more balanced, but surprisingly it is their offense leading the way. Their defense has struggled with stopping the run especially. So how do the two teams matchup statistically against each other?

S&P

Baylor Offense

Rank

Texas Defense

Rank

Rushing

139

7

110.8

43

Passing

127.8

23

131.2

16

Std Downs

133.9

6

111.7

31

Pass Downs

160.2

7

155.5

6






S&P

Baylor Defense

Rank

Texas Offense

Rank

Rushing

88.9

101

144.1

2

Passing

83.4

100

127.3

24

Std Downs

90.4

98

130.8

7

Pass Downs

767.7

111

126.7

33

*Courtesy of www.footballoutsiders.com

Keys to the Game

- Make David Ash and his receivers beat you

Below is a breakdown of how UT involves their skill players in the passing game:

Receptions

Yards

TDs

Yards / Catch

Wide Receivers

69

53.1%

885

56.91%

10

71.43%

12.83

Running Backs

55

42.3%

584

37.56%

3

21.43%

10.62

Tight Ends

6

4.6%

86

5.53%

1

7.14%

14.33

Total

130

100%

1555

100%

14

100%

11.96

As you can see, the Longhorns involve their running backs heavily in the passing game. Ash likes to drop the ball off and uses his check down man quite a bit. The weakest part of his game is stretching the field and attacking the defense vertically, which also happens to be a major issue with the Bears defense. I expect the Bears defense to come out in tighter zones and some more man defense this week to see if Ash and his wide receivers can actually beat the secondary.

- Get that running game going

The Baylor rushing attack has been pretty average this year, averaging just 4.3 yards per carry. Where the Bears have struggled the most is with the big run. The long run by a running back this year is just 25 yards by Glasco Martin. Nick Florence's 60 yard scamper in the ULM game is the longest by any Bear, but the explosiveness in the running game has just not been there this year.

The Bears leading rusher, Jarred Salubi is averaging a steady 4.6 yards per carry, but struggled mightily against West Virginia for 3.8 yards per carry. He did better against TCU averaging 5.1 yards, but could only a long carry of 18 yards. This would seem to be a good defense to get the rushing game going against. They have allowed forty-seven 10+ yard carries, and 15 more going over 20 yards. The Longhorn defense has been at best average against the rush, and with their best run stuffing defensive end in Jackson Jeffcoat out of the game and being replaced by primarily a pass rusher, the rushing lanes could get even bigger.

Look for the Bears to attack on the ground and get a 50+ yard carry against a struggling Longhorn defense. If the Bears can get some big plays on the ground and get 5.5 yards per carry, they will give themselves a great chance to win this game.

- Win the turnover battle

You can pretty much put this down as a key every week for the Baylor Bears. When the Baylor defense gives the offense a few extra possessions, the Bears are a very good team. As we have seen the last few weeks, when they don't do that, they are pretty average. Baylor has to cause turnovers and force the action. They are going against a quarterback that has not turned the ball over very much this year, with only 3 interceptions on the season (though two came last week against OU).

The bad part about this is that UT is one of the best teams in the country and NOT turning it over. They don't put the ball on the field very often, and recover it about half the time. They also don't throw many interceptions. This will be a tough one, but if the Bears can just be +1 in turnover margin, they will at least get one more possession.

- Involve Terrance Williams

It should go without saying that the Bears should get the ball in their best player's hands, but last week they failed to do that. Of course, the three times he touches the ball, he scores two touchdowns and still gets over 150 yards receiving. Baylor has to get Williams the ball more than 3-times in a game to win. They are at their best when he is running a variety of routes, and getting the ball all over the field. I don't think he needs 17 catches like he did against West Virginia, but a nice 7 catches or more would be a good start.

- Get that spark back

Something seemed to be missing in the TCU game, especially after the Bears went up 7-0 on the 2nd offensive play from scrimmage. They just didn't have any spark to their game. The offense sputtered along and gave the ball away three times in the first half. The defense struggled at first, but somehow held TCU to only 14 points in the first half before the floodgates opened in the 4th quarter. Baylor just seemed off to me in that game. Was it due to the bye week? The Bears are a terrible 2-5 in the game after their bye week, with the only wins coming last year against two Southland Conference teams. They have lost to Oklahoma and Texas Tech in 2008, Connecticut in 2009, Oklahoma State in 2011, and TCU this year. The TCU and UConn games were two games the Bears came home favored and came out flat.

So why do the Bears struggle so much in games after bye weeks? Is it because the offense loses some of its rhythm and it takes a game to get it back? Does the coaching staff spend too much time looking at the team and not the opponent? I don't know, but hopefully the Bears can get their spark back and get a big win Saturday night.

Prediction- Bears lose 42-35

I don't like this pick as much as you do, trust me. However, all of the statistics favor UT, and I think they are a bad matchup for us. They don't turn the ball over, and they have a few good enough secondary players to matchup on Williams. They also rush the passer very well, and Nick Florence has struggled with a pass rush. I think the Bears make this a game, and beat the 10 point spread, but traveling down to Austin to try and win for the third time in a row against the Longhorns will come up a bit short.


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