For the first time in four years, the Bruins are visiting beautiful downtown Corvallis, where they find the Beavers in Year 1 of a rebuild after Mike Riley hightailed it to the big city of Lincoln. For those of you who are into that sort of thing, this is game 3 of the UCLA Rose Bowl Championship Playoff Made Necessary by an Early 2 Game Losing Streak. As Oregon State is the worst team in the 2015 Pac 12, the Bruins are heavily favored (for probably the last time this season).
As always, we use:
- Yards Per Stop to measure efficiency
- Yards Per Play to measure explosiveness
- Points Per Drive to measure scoring
- Points Per Trip Inside the 40 to measure drive finishing
- Field Position Margin to measure field position
- Turnover Margin to measure turnovers
The Oregon State offense is basically the same statistically as the Colorado offense—horribly inexplosive, not particularly efficient, and mediocre at scoring. In fact, the biggest difference in offensive stats between the two is Oregon State’s mediocre points per trip inside the 40 number, which ended up dooming the Beavers to a loss to Ralphie & co. in a game Oregon State probably should have won.
The Beavers are particularly bad at passing the ball. They have more sacks than passing touchdowns. Their 32.4% success rate on pass plays is 117th in the country. We are relatively positive that even in the depths of the Pistol era, UCLA never came close to that level of passing incompetence. Slightly worryingly for a UCLA defense that has had trouble stopping the zone read, the Beavers are significantly better at running the ball. Their success rate of 43.3% on run plays is downright ok (64th in the country). Storm Woods is still here for some reason, and he’s almost certainly more talented than any of the Colorado backs who were effective last week. Seth Collins is actually Oregon State’s leading rusher, but he’s out this week, and Nick Mitchell doesn’t seem to be nearly the runner that Collins is (though he still averages 4.5 yards per carry).
Look, Oregon State is a bad offense, and if this UCLA defense has as much trouble with them as it did with Colorado, you can pretty much kiss any dream of a Pac 12 South championship goodbye.
Kalani Sitake did a great job as the Utah Defensive Coordinator, and had his Utes neck and neck with Stanford as the top defense in the conference last year. This Oregon State defense…is not Utah. They allow their opponents to be very efficient and very explosive, and as a result they allow plenty of points. The Beavers’ bend-and-break defensive style is 118th in the country in Rushing Success Rate allowed, 89th in the country in Passing Success Rate allowed, and 113th in the country in Overall Success Rate allowed. According to Football Study Hall, the Beavers are actually 11th best in Rushing IsoPPP (explosiveness) allowed, so it might be tough for Paul Perkins and the rest of the Bruin backs to really get loose, but there should be plenty of chances to stay ahead of the chains.
The defense has been a little better in its last two games, but Utah and Colorado aren’t exactly the top offenses in the league. The Beavers are 125th in Havoc Rate [(TFL+Forced Fumbles+Passes Defensed+Interceptions)/Total Plays] out of 128 teams in the country. While that’s usually more of a personality stat than something that tells you whether a defense is good or not, being that far down is probably a pretty bad sign for Oregon State.
Make no mistake—the offense should see this as a tuneup for a potential Senior Day track meet against Washington State. It’s going to rain, but that should really not keep the Bruins from putting up a ton of points on what has been an overmatched defense (especially given the wet weather this week in Los Angeles.
The Beavers have been average at turnover margin, and are the first team in the Pac-12 that we’ve seen with a negative field position margin on the season. Their kickoff specialist has only managed 5 touchbacks all year, though Victor Bolden is a very dangerous return man. There might be a fair amount of long returns on both sides on Saturday.
The Massey College Football Ranking Composite, taking 112s different rating systems into account, has UCLA as the #27 team in college football (down 6 slots from last week—don’t get in dog fights with Colorado!), while Oregon State is #97. The Bruins’ rankings range from #14 to #50 with a standard deviation of 6.09. This standard deviation is about the same as most teams near the Bruins’ ranking level. Oregon State’s rankings range from #82 to #114, with a standard deviation of 6.21. This standard deviation is low for teams at that similar ranking level, so rating systems have a fair amount of consensus that this is where the Beavers belong.
Using a Simple Ratings System (solid descriptive article here), we see the following: Using Sports-Reference.com’s numbers, UCLA has an SRS of 11.30 while Oregon State has an SRS of -6.26, meaning that when we take +3 for home field advantage into account, Sports Reference predicts a 14 point UCLA win.
Your Saturday Schedule
Every week we are going to give you the optimal college football Saturday viewing schedule, recommending the games with the highest mean Massey Composite ratings. Here is our recommendation this week:
Morning Slot: There’s another good one in the early morning slot this week, as Notre Dame visits Pitt (average rating: 20.5).
Noon Slot: The Bruins start at 1:30, so while you’re waiting for that game to start you might check out Florida State at Clemson (average rating: 10.5).
Early Evening Slot: Don’t overthink this one—LSU at Bama is the way to go (average rating: 3.5). It might be interesting to keep an eye on Utah at Washington, as Chris Petersen just might have something brewing up in Seattle.
#Pac12AfterDark Slot: Cal at Oregon (average rating: 35) is going to be sooooooo fun you guys. Neither defense can stop anybody and the loser might actually be in danger of missing a bowl. Desperation and pointsplosions—that is what Pac 12 After Dark is all about.
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