texasbowlhdOld Big 12 rivals go head to head in this match up in Houston; Texas A&M’s back yard.  Without a doubt the Aggies will be favored due to having so much talent on the field.   Their players were not only higher rated coming out of high school, but are also heading to the NFL in greater numbers as well.

Bill Snyder, also known as the Purple Wizard of Kansas State, however, has a knack for preparing his team to play up to the talent of other teams.   This game will become a battle of skill verses discipline and, even if everything goes right, its hard to tell who may win.    To try and level the comparison playing field, I’m using new advanced statistics from Football Outsiders to try and normalize how each team played against good opponents in quality situations.

In regards to total records, these teams are pretty similar.  While both are 7-4 against FBS opponents, Kansas State has one more Power Five victory than Texas A&M.  Overall, however, A&M played a tougher schedule and played well against that schedule. The Femeu Efficiency Index, shows how well each team played against an opponent-adjusted drive efficiency, and their performance against their schedule shows that only a small fraction of teams in FBS would have played as well in the big plays during this season.

After looking at each play on offense and defense and weighting it against that schedule, texasbowl-1however, a different story starts to take place.

Kansas State has a lower offensive efficiency, but in the big metrics that matter in wins and losses, they have a slight edge offensively against the Aggies.  The Wildcats do a better job gaining more of the available yards, gain far more first downs successfully and rarely turn the ball over.

On the defensive end of the ball I expected to see the Aggies dominate the Wildcats, with all their NFL talent on the line and secondary.  However, what the numbers are showing is that Kansas State rarely are in the wrong place.   They top A&M in overall efficiency against the schedule, give up less available yards, and hold opponents to a lower success rate on first downs.  A&M has a slight advantage in firming up in the red zone and both teams are around the same number on causing turnovers on defense.

Kansas State has a weakness for giving up the deep ball and Texas A&M can take advantage of that.  Likely not to the degree that the Big 12 schedule tested the Wildcats as numerous Big 12 schools have much better offenses than the Aggies.   Texas A&M has been far less consistent than the Wildcats as well.  Kansas State leads the Big 12 in ball control and could keep poking at the A&M defense until a mistake is made.   They can’t get into a shootout and the Aggies are basically playing at home.

The numbers give Kansas State a slight edge, but the situation favors A&M.  That always makes a game hard to pick.

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