Oklahoma State Game Preview Part 3

With the regular season finale upon us, can the Bears finish the 2012 season on a high and win their 3rd straight game? Can the last team in the old Big 12 South that Art Briles has never beaten?

Did you know that Oklahoma State is the only Big 12 team that Art Briles has not defeated, outside of first year member West Virginia? He is 0-4 against Mike Gundy and his boys from Stillwater, and as we spoke about yesterday, it hasn't been really close. Can the Bears get that monkey off of Coach Briles back, and get that 7th win?

Statistical Comparison:

Once again, the Bears will take on a higher ranked team in Waco, hoping to have the same result as the last time against Kansas State.

Baylor

OSU

FEI Rank

23

12

F/+ Rank

45

10

S&P+ Rank

39

23

GE Rank

46

28

Average

38.25

18.25

The Bears have continued to rise in the FootballOutsider.com analytical measures, but they still trail a very highly rated Oklahoma State Cowboy team. Honestly, they were about 10 spots higher than I thought they would be in FEI and F/+ ranking. They were by far the highest 4 loss team (Michigan is 16th in FEI, and TCU is 20th in F/+).

Baylor O Rank

OSU D

Advantage

FEI

1

30

BU

F/+

2

29

BU

S&P+

15

28

BU

Rush S&P+

10

16

BU

Pass S&P+

15

33

BU

Standard Downs S&P+

9

35

BU

Passing Downs S&P+

9

16

BU

Success Rate

12

63

BU

Average

9.125

31.25

BU

Baylor D Rank

OSU O

Advantage

FEI

107

3

OSU

F/+

104

8

OSU

S&P+

87

20

OSU

Rush S&P+

81

17

OSU

Pass S&P+

91

19

OSU

Standard Downs S&P+

76

12

OSU

Passing Downs S&P+

94

38

OSU

Success Rate

115

25

OSU

Average

94.375

17.75

OSU

TOTAL

51.75

24.5

OSU

The strength for OSU is still their offense, but their defense has been better in these metrics than traditional metrics that we went over previously. Their only real weakness is their success rate in stopping offenses from gaining the necessary yards on each down.

Keys to the Game:

1. Win 3rd downs – The Bears have done a MUCH better job on 3rd downs the past few games, stopping opponents 6% more often the past three weeks. They are still pretty terrible overall, allowing 59.15% of third downs to be converted (over 4% worse than any other team in FBS). Texas Tech converted just 6 of 11, Kansas State 8 of 19, OU 9 of 13, and KU 2 of 13. That works out to a 44.64% conversion rate, which still bad at 93rd, but would not be historically bad.

The Cowboys offense has been very good on 3rd downs, converting the 27th best rate in the country. They are successful on 45.58% of their 3rd downs. The Baylor defenders have to continue stopping team at least half of the time on 3rd downs to put their great offense back on the field.

2. Did someone say turnovers? – Look, I am a broken record, I get it. But did you watch the Tech game? 4 turnovers, including two in the red zone. Tell me they aren't important. The fact is the Bears defense has not been good enough at stopping people (especially on 3rd downs) all season, without getting a few turnovers. I don't think we will get 4 this game, but if we can somehow be +1 or +2. Half of this goes on the offense though. Historically, we have been awful at turning the ball over against OSU under coach Briles. They have committed 8 turnover combined the past two years against the Cowboys. The offense has to hold onto the ball just as much as the defense has to get their hands on it to win the turnover battle.

3. Corral Randle or Stewart – I do not have confidence in the Bear's defense to stop both the best passing and rushing threat for OSU. I do have hope that we can limit one of them. We cannot let Randle run for 150+ yards and let Stewart run through our zones and get a ton of yards and catches, especially on 3rd down. Could we survive, and let one of them go off, probably. But both? I have my doubts.

Personally, I think it is more likely that we stop Randle. We have been better against the run, and Stewart is much more of an underneath receiver than a deep threat, which have given the Bears fits this year (see West Virginia and Texas Tech).

4. Get that deep ball working – The Cowboys big weakness as a defense has been big passing plays. They have allowed the 20th most passing plays over 10 yards, 4th most over 20 yards and 30 yards, and the 8th most over 40 yards. They have been gouged by passing games all year, sometimes due to terrible tackling on shorter routes, bad angles on underneath receivers, or just terrible coverage in the back end of their defense. The point is they are susceptible to big plays in the passing game. Luckily for the Bears, they have a bit of practice at that. While Tevin Reese has been not as explosive the past 3 games (averaging just 12.25 yards per catch), look for him to get more involved in the deep passing game against OSU.

5. Make Special Teams Special, in a good way – Recently, the Bears special teams play has been lacking. They are allowing more yards on returns, not converting kicks and not getting big returns. An area we have not spoken much about this year in terms of matchups is how the two teams compare on Special Teams. Well, against OSU, it is not good. They are ranked 17th in Special Teams S&P+ (according to FootballOutsiders.com) while Baylor is ranked 100th. The Bears cannot leave points on the field or valuable yardage in field position against an offense like Oklahoma States.

Prediction: Bears win 52-49

Looking at this, I really want to pick Oklahoma State, primarily due to the fact that we have just not played them very well the past few years. Could that be due to us both peaking last year and them just being a bit ahead of us on the rebuilding path? Could it be due to the way the Bears defense just does not line up to the spread offense that has a balanced attack very well?

However, I am going Baylor. Mainly due to the answer of one question; do the Bears look like a 7-win team? I say yes, at least right now. The Bears are playing their best football of the year, by far. Their offense is clicking on all cylinders, and they are catching the Cowboys after a tough emotional loss to Oklahoma last week.

I also like the fact that their quarterback position is in flux and they have not been able to find one guy to steady the ship. Anytime you have to bring in the old starter for short yardage or goal line situations, (especially when the new starter is a pretty good athlete himself) it is not a great thing. I think the Bears do enough to get a few turnovers at opportune times, and Coach Briles finally beats the last team in the Big 12 (who has been there more than 1 season) that he has not defeated.


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