cactusbowlhdThis isn’t the season that the Bears anticipated as spring play ended last year.   At the time they were coming off a 10-2 season and thrashing of North Carolina in the post season.   Additionally, much of the talent was returning this year, including Seth Russel who ended 2015 early with a broken neck.

Then years of Title IX violations caught up to the program and Briles was replaced with Jim Grobe, who was tasked to just hold the program together until a search for a permanent coach would begin after the 2016 season.  Dead man walking is a better way of phrasing that and the Bear’s season went downhill fast after starting with six straight wins.

Last year I used standard statistics to put together the “Tale of the Tape” for each bowl game.  However, how conferences play and are structured caused a few variations and, in games like this, differences in a Power Five verses a Group of Five schedule makes it even harder to use them to compare to teams.   To combat that I am moving to some more advanced statistics to review.   The ones I settled on for this preseason came from Football Outsiders.  Working with both College Football and the NFL they’ve structured their DVOA, or cactusbowl16-1Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average, metrics to measure a team’s success on every play and compare that against each situation and opponent.   That provides a ratio, which highlights the success of situational play calling and execution, normalized across varied schedules.

Two the left are those metrics for each team’s offense and defensive performance over the year.   Heading down each category we look at how each team performed against the FBS and, in this case, Boise State crushes Baylor.   They were 10-2 against the FBS and went undefeated against the Power Five, beating Washington State and Oregon State.  They also beat BYU, who I have classified as a Group of Five team.  Baylor, on the other hand, only went 5-6 against the FBS, since they played one FCS game, and 3-6 against the Power Five.  It was a more difficult schedule for the Bears, but they didn’t really perform that well against it.

This is shown in the next three categories.  The Fremeu Efficiency Index shows how well each team played against an opponent-adjusted drive efficiency.  It removes garbage plays and gives an emphasis against quality performances against good teams, win or lose.  While Baylor has a bit tougher strength of schedule and strength of play against the schedule, Boise State had a higher success ratio in key situations.

This plays out in the offensive and defensive statistics as well.   Offensive Efficiency measures non-garbage plays weighted for performance against good teams.  The Broncos have been far more efficient offensively than the Bears, which is shocking considering what Baylor’s offense has been over the past few years.   Outside measuring how well each team gained first downs, Boise State outmatched Baylor in gaining the most yards that were available in a given situation over the course of the year, had a better touchdown ratio, and turned the ball over less.

Defensively the trend continues as the Broncos were far more efficient, allowed less yards per what was available, and kept their opponent out of the end zone more consistently.    The only advantage the Bears have is they’ve caused more turnovers.   If they want to have a chance in this game they’ll need to cause a lot of them.

With Shockwood and Russel out and Grobe still on the sideline for a program that doesn’t even turn his headset on at times, Baylor isn’t bringing its best situation into this bowl.   That’s the wrong thing to do against a Boise State team that plays disciplined, quality football and knows how to win.







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