The Baylor Bears are 5-0. They have outscored opponents 213-96 on the way to that 5-0 record, but that does not tell the full story. The Baylor defense has been perfect in the 4th quarter. Through the first 5-games and 75 minutes of 4th quarter football they have allowed a grand total of 0 points to the opposition.
They have done it in a variety of situation as well. Up 55-7 going into the 4th quarter against Northwestern State, they slowed the game down with 4th stringers in and kept the Demons off the scoreboard. Up 3-touchdowns against Rice, the Bears extended their lead with a touchdown of their own, but Rice could never get another drive going against the Bears.
Closer games where the Bears led against SMU (26-13) and Oklahoma State (28-24) saw the Bears force turnovers at timely points and let the offense build the leads to a comfortable margin. Baylor is averaging 4.39 yards allowed per play as a whole, but that number plummets to 3.64 yards per play. Baylor has also forced two turnovers in the quarter.
The numbers get even better if you take out the Oklahoma State game, where the Cowboys ran 24 plays for 157 yards, but had those two costly turnovers (plus a drive ending inside the Bears 20 when the game was over). The other four games resulted in just a 2.02 yards per play average for the opposition.
Baylor's Defensive Success in the 4th Quarter
|Yards Per Play||Yards Per Rush||Yards Per Pass||3rd Down %||Points Allowed||Sacks||Passing Completion %|
How have the Bears done this? Against Iowa State, the Bears defense had allowed a touchdown on every Cyclone possession of consequence and 6.7 yards per play. However, when the 4th quarter started the Cyclones would run 9 more offensive plays, for 9 yards and 3-punts. That is the starkest example of the Bears success in the 4th quarter, but it is an eye opening one.
There are a couple of reasons why the Bears might be having such success in the final-15 minutes of the game. The first goes back to the tempo and power of the Baylor offensive attack. Baylor is averaging 84 plays per game, a fraction of a snap lower than their 84.85 per game in 2015. That tempo puts the opposition on the field quite a bit, expending much more energy than they usually need to.
The second is the power of the Bears offense, putting so much pressure for the opposition to score. Against Iowa State, the Cyclones had a tremendous amount of pressure on them to keep scoring, even up 14 points. All of a sudden, the upset chance became real and small mistakes stopped their drives. A missed swing pass, a dropped pass, a missed block. The Bears didn't have to do anything differently on defense, other than let the Cyclones make mistakes.
The Bears defense has taken advantage of these situations, especially on pass defense. They are allowing 25.6% of passes to be completed against them in the fourth quarter. Against the best passing attack they have seen, the Oklahoma State Cowboys were just 8-20. The yards per attempt has also been drastically reduced to below 3 yards per pass attempt.
The Ohio State Buckeyes have the best pass defense in the nation and allow 4.5 yards per pass attempt. The Bears are more than 1.5 yards below that. They are 4th overall at just 5.2 yards per attempt but their 4th quarter defense takes it to another level. The Bears have also gotten 30% of their sacks in the fourth quarter.
Even the run defense is skewed by the Oklahoma State game that saw OSU rush for 112 yards and over 10 yards per carry. Take out that game, and the Bears rush defense is allowing less than 2-yards per carry.
With the Bears defense going to an elite level for the Baylor Bears during the 4th quarter, the Bears will never be out of a game.