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Big 12 Bowl Preview: Stats Snapshot By Bowl

December 15, 2022
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The future 14-team Big 12 has 12 teams bowling this year. Below we have each game showing each offense and defense’s yards per drive in colored bards compared to what other opponents average against those teams in gray bars. For P5 vs P5 matchups, it’s limited just to P5 games. For games with a non-P5 team in them, it’s limited to FBS games. The background is shaded green, yellow, or red to give context for whether a number is good, fair, or poor for an offense.

I’ve split it into the New Year’s Six games, the remaining current Big 12 games, and games involving the newcomers who arrive in 2023. Each section is ordered by which one kicks off earlier.


New Year’s Six

Sugar Bowl - Kansas State vs Alabama

The Sugar Bowl features Big 12 champion Kansas State against Nick Saban and Alabama. The Wildcats come in with an offense that is outperforming their schedule to a solid degree of about 10% more yards per drive. However, they face a Tide defense that is holding teams to 14% fewer yards per drive than other P5s allow. The Tide offense isn’t what it’s been but is still solid (6% better this year than the comparison) while KSU’s defense took a step forward this year and is roughly 9% better in yards per drive than other P5s vs. its schedule.

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Alabama is an understandable favorite given recent history but one area KSU might be able to benefit from is explosive plays. Texas, Auburn, Tennessee, and LSU all hit a fairly high percentage of explosive plays against the Crimson Tide. KSU is 29th in percentage of plays going for 20+ yards and is 17th in 40+ yard play percentage. KSU has some playmakers with Vaughn, Knowles, and Brooks and will need them to step up. Additionally, Alabama hasn’t forced many turnovers this fall (7.3% of drives) compared to KSU which forces them on around 16%. If the Wildcats pull the upset they likely will benefit from these areas of the game.

Fiesta Bowl - TCU vs. Michigan

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TCU’s got a pretty tough matchup against a strong Michigan team. The Wolverine offense isn’t flashy but has been much more statistically dominant per-drive than I expected coming in while the Michigan defense doesn’t look as dominant as I expected. TCU’s offense is producing well above most of Michigan’s opposing schedule which could be interesting if the Frog defense can slow down the Wolverine offense. TCU’s new 3-3-5 alignment helped them improve since 2021 but will really need to hold up against a Michigan run game that averages 6+ yards per tailback carry.


Other Current Big 12 Bowls

Armed Forces Bowl - Baylor vs. Air Force

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This one will have a longer article devoted to its statistics. Air Force has been outstanding against its schedule, clearly outperforming its opposition on both sides of the ball. However, Air Force’s opposing offenses have been pretty bad and Baylor represents a very significant step up in competition for the Falcon defense. The Air Force offense runs the flexbone and all the option schemes that entails. They are very good at it averaging almost 40 yards per drive against defenses that average in the low 30s. This won’t be a giant score due to tempo and few drives but expect the ball to move per-drive.

Guaranteed Rate Bowl - Oklahoma State vs Wisconsin

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Oklahoma State was a different team after the injury to Spencer Sanders and the offense really revolved around what he could create for them. To my knowledge, neither he nor Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz are playing in this one. The matchup on the surface pits two teams who have solid defenses and underperforming offenses against each other. With a lot of guys out for both sides due to the portal and Wisconsin going through a coaching change, it’s tough to peg this one. Wisconsin’s offensive bread and butter is in the trenches but it has to go up against a strong OSU front. OSU’s offense is going to rely on the new QBs to step up in a big way against a good defense. On the surface that probably favors the Badgers in a game I think OSU probably wins with a healthy Sanders.

Liberty Bowl - Kansas vs Arkansas

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The Liberty Bowl features a likely shootout between two pretty good offenses against two struggling defenses. Arkansas hasn’t stopped any P5 team other than LSU since they played Texas A&M in late September. Kansas has a very poor defense that has let 7 of 10 P5 opponents average over 40 yards per drive. Arkansas has both of their two Linebackers opting out of the game against a KU offense that likes to hit you with a lot of various run schemes and misdirection. The over/under is 69 and might be low for this one. I favor Arkansas in this one as the most similar offense to Arkansas that KU faced was OU and KU gave little to no resistance to the OU offense. That can’t happen again if KU is going to seriously threaten a win.

Texas Bowl - Texas Tech vs Ole Miss

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In this one, you have a decent Tech offense going against a struggling Ole Miss defense and a better-than-average Tech defense facing a lights-out Ole Miss offense.

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Tech & Ole Miss conversions on either third or 4th down. Colored bars are third down conversion percentages. White bars are the percentage of third downs they convert on 4th down.

Tech will risk single coverage on defense to try and disrupt and Ole Miss might be more than willing to take shots deep. Both teams are willing to go for it on 4th down with Tech having the most attempts nationally on fourth down and Ole Miss coming in at 31st. Getting either one off the field is a chore.

This is one where the Rebels are probably the more talented team despite losing a lot of notable players in the offseason to the NFL. This one could be very entertaining.

Cheez-It Bowl - Oklahoma vs Florida State

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Florida State appears to be the stronger team on paper with both a stronger record and a more impressive yards per drive number on each side of the ball. OU however has been very dangerous on offense and that’s their puncher’s chance here. Most of their schedule hasn’t been very offensively strong but when they went up against LSU, Florida, Wake Forest, and Louisville the opposing offense was able to rack up yardage in a big way with 41 yards per drive and 35% scoring drives. Only Tony Gibson’s NC State defense has limited the Seminole offense so if OU wins it will likely have to be a shootout.

Alamo Bowl - Texas vs Washington

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The Longhorns have a tough offense and not-so-illustrious defense waiting for them in San Antonio. The Huskies have one of the best QBs in the nation in Penix. If UT has all its guys (Bijan, Worthy, etc) they should be able to move the ball on this group that allows third downs to be converted 45% of the time and allows another 11% to be converted on fourth down. Washington doesn’t inflict many TFLs but they do get sacks. However, UT’s ability to draw up heavy play action looks can mitigate some of that.

The Longhorn defense looks better on this chart due to the inclusion of the OU game. Without that UT is a defense that has allowed slightly fewer yards per drive than other P5s do against their opponents coming in at 96.75% of what others allow. That won’t likely slow Washington to a crawl. The Huskies probably get some production but I think UT wins it.


Future Member Bowls

Fenway Bowl - Cincinnati vs UL

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Cincinnati’s offense took a step back this fall without Ridder at QB and faces a tough Louisville defense. However, the Cardinal offense has to contend with Cincinnati’s defense which is still very strong in yards per drive. Louisville has played the tougher schedule but this one is tough to peg due to the coaching revolving door. Fickell is off to Wisconsin, Louisville coach Satterfield is heading to Cincinnati, and how does that impact the teams?

New Mexico Bowl - BYU vs SMU

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This one figures to be another shootout in terms of per-drive production. SMU QB Tanner Mordecai is legit and is playing. BYU QB Jaren Hall is outstanding and wants to play but may not be healthy. BYU needs Hall to play. Neither defense is strong, both offenses are good, and if both are fully staffed I think BYU’s tougher schedule bears fruit here. However, if Hall doesn’t play it could be a long day for BYU.

Independence Bowl - Houston vs ULL

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Houston has a roster with some standouts like Clayton Tune and Nathaniel Dell who can make serious plays for them but their defense hasn’t been all that stout. The Ragin Cajuns have a solid defense and a limited offense this year. This one is one where I would favor the Cougars in September. They have played a tough schedule against teams like Tech, Kansas, Tulane, UTSA, SMU, ECU, and Memphis while generally showing up well against it. However, are they motivated and do they want to be there in a Shreveport setting that will likely have a lot of ULL fans there?

Military Bowl - UCF vs Duke

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UCF and Duke’s matchup should be another possible shootout. Duke lost a shootout to KU earlier in the year and I have to think Malzahn will be looking to use Plumblee in similar ways to how KU was able to unleash Jalon Daniels on the Blue Devils. Duke’s offense is outstanding but the Blue Devil defense is far from where a defensive-minded coach like Elko wants it to be. That said I am also skeptical on how well UCF is going to stop them after how well Tulane, USF, Memphis, and ECU moved it on the Knights.


Conclusion

The Big 12’s bowl matchups give some headliner games where the league can earn respect against four of the top thirteen teams in the playoff rankings as well as interesting matchups against some strong G5 teams and regionally interesting matchups. It’s not the murderer’s row that the 2019 bowl season provided but it’s an opportunity for some entertaining matchups.

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Discussion from...

Big 12 Bowl Preview: Stats Snapshot By Bowl

2,887 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by S11
S11
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I'll have a stats look at BU-AFA dropping in the next couple days.
Dia del DougO
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Bijan, Roschon and Overshown are reportedly opting out for Texas, according to horn insider media.
"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool."
S11
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Dia del DougO said:

Bijan, Roschon and Overshown are reportedly opting out for Texas, according to horn insider media.
That's big for them. They lose both their downhill tailbacks and their rangiest ILB.
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