Baylor Football

The Breakdown: BU's bowl location and strength of potential opponents

November 30, 2018
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Now that Baylor has earned their bowl bid, the next item on the list is which bowl they will play in and the opponent will they face.  In this article I will take a look at the moving parts of where they’ll go, who they might face, and give a brief yardage per drive comparison for likely opponents.


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Where will they go?

There isn't anything perfectly clear here until the playoff is picked and the New Years six bowls are all settled.   For these potential opponents I will therefore assume:

  1. Texas AND Oklahoma make the New Years Six.   These six bowls include the playoff and are the Sugar, Rose, Fiesta, Orange, Peach, and Fiesta Bowls.   If Texas wins the Big 12 title game tomorrow they'll automatically go to the Sugar and OU will almost surely lock up a bid to either the Fiesta or Peach.   If OU wins they stand a better than 50% shot at making the playoff since Ohio State will have a hard time jumping them and even if Bama loses we haven't seen a non-champion jump a Power 5 Conference Champion with the same record before.  WVU and ISU aren't a factor here.
  2. The PAC 12 Champion going to the Rose Bowl is the only NY6 team for that league.   It's unlikely that Washington State can move from #13 to #10 without playing.   The two title game participants for the P12 are #11 and #17 so the loser isn't getting in either.   This means there will be one Pac 12 team in the CheezIt Bowl as they have 7 bowl eligible teams and 7 tie ins including the Rose Bowl.
  3. The SEC will get at least 3 teams in the NY6. (Alabama, Georgia, Florida) Getting LSU would need things breaking right where Ohio State and Clemson don’t get upset in their title games among other things.  Either way the pool of potential SEC opponents is similar.

Big 12 Pecking Order

Knowing the above information, we need to look at what the Big 12 tie-ins are and where Baylor may fall.

  • New Years Six: Texas and Oklahoma in some form or fashion.  One of the two will be in the Sugar Bowl.  If OU wins there’s a chance OU lands in the playoff or if they lose they can land in the Fiesta or Peach as an at-large.   Only filling one spot is unlikely but possible.

  • Alamo Bowl: They will likely pick one of West Virginia or Iowa State.  They are the best remaining teams and have good traveling fanbases.  With the remaining three teams after them at 6-6 with losing records in league play it’s almost certain these two are the pick unless Texas or OU falls out of the NY6.

  • Camping World Bowl: They will likely pick one of WVU or ISU before any of the Big 12's next three would be taken.  Both teams would also be among the best traveling teams for a Florida bowl.

The Likely Bowls

The next three bowls are where the Bears most likely be selected to play in, but they could also select TCU or Oklahoma State.  You can argue any of the three can fall in any of these bowls.  All three are 6-6 with plenty of positives and negatives for a bowl to look at.

  • Texas Bowl: This is the first bowl to pick that Baylor might go to.  The Bears have around 25,000 alumni in Houston and would likely travel well there after filling up over half the venue for the 2010 game.  Oklahoma State probably won't travel as well inside the state but would be a sexier television matchup with high profile wins over Texas, WVU, and Boise State that got a lot of attention.  TCU could also be a good pick for them here and beat both Baylor and OSU.  It would be against an SEC teamp.
  • Liberty Bowl: This is the second Bowl that might decide to pick up the Bears.  It is also against an SEC team but I can see them possibly having a preference for Oklahoma State due to geography.  TCU was here in 2016 so I doubt they pick the Frogs.   I expect them to pick either the Bears or Cowboys here.
  • Cheez-It Bowl: This would be the final bowl to pick any Big 12 school or a Pac12 school under my assumptions listed above.  They probably prefer someone who wasn't there two years ago when it was named the Cactus Bowl but the only way they avoid that is if Baylor is picked earlier or if the Big 12 has only one NY6 team.
  • Armed Forces Bowl: If only one Big 12 team makes the New Years 6 the worst case is the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth assuming all of the bowls listed above pass on you.  This is likely tied in against the American Athletic Conference who doesn’t seed their bowl pairings and tries to get matchups and good travel pairings.

Who will they play?

Here I will try to predict who the Bears face.   For potentially likely opponents I will also place a yards per drive chart.  One column is the potential opponent’s average yards per drive and the gray column is what other Power 5 teams average against those opponents.  It gives you an idea of how strong or weak each game’s performance was.  It’s a good glance at a lot of teams.

Texas Bowl or Liberty Bowl (vs SEC)

SEC teams have a unique bowl selection.  After the New Years Six has filled their bowl slots the Citrus Bowl picks first out of the remaining bowl eligible teams.   Then it all gets somewhat unpredictable.  There is a pool of six bowls where the SEC "in consultation with the institutions and the bowls" will make the assignments for all six games out of the eligible teams.   Both the Texas Bowl and Liberty Bowl fall into this group.  Basically the SEC hand picks their group of matchups and as a result it could be any number of teams.

The teams I expect to not see are LSU and Kentucky.   LSU might make the New Years Six (assuming few if any upsets this weekend) and I can easily see the SEC placing the Kentucky Wildcats in an east coast bowl regardless.

Texas A&M Aggies

There's potential to see the Battle of the Brazos in the Texas Bowl but I think they'll only be placed there if a non-Texas team is the matchup.  The SEC office has avoided placing the Aggies against recruiting competitors from our league and there wouldn’t be any real upside for them facing off against a 6-6 Big 12 team.  Just on the off-chance they change course here's a yards per drive breakdown of the Aggie season.   They did surprisingly well on offense against Clemson, Mississippi State, and Alabama.  They’ve been mostly solid defensively.

Auburn Tigers

The SEC matchup that would probably have the most fun storylines for Baylor fans would be Auburn.  Rhule's seniors against Stidham who left them behind and also a shot at taking down former head coach Kevin Steele.  Offensively they stunk badly against A&M, Arkansas, and Southern Miss but gave Georgia a fight and hammered a solid Washington defense.  Defensively they’ve been pretty average compared to par outside of UGA giving them a rough outing.  For a team Baylor rarely plays, this one might have more motivated Bear fans than any of these matchups.

Mississippi State

One of the matchups that would be toughest for the Bears would be if they sent Mississippi State west.   The Bulldogs have a loaded defensive line, run a variation of the power spread offense that Penn State runs, and have an outstanding dual threat QB in Nick Fitzgerald.  Four really good defenses got the best of them but they’ve gone off in a big way in most of their other games.  Their defense has been good all year.

South Carolina

I'd expect them to keep the South Carolina Gamecocks to the eastern bowls but I have seen some projections with them coming west.   They are the opposite of what you expect from a Muschamp team- strong offense and not exactly stout on defense.  They torched Clemson’s defense worse than A&M did in yards per drive and hammered a good Florida defense.  Defensively though they struggled against the better offenses they faced.

Missouri

Former Big 12 opponent Missouri sits at 8-4 and might get sent to the Liberty Bowl after playing in Houston last year.  They feature a strong defense and an offense that's been decent but not spectacular in YPD this season relative to other P5 teams against their schedule.  They lit up Purdue, Memphis and Vanderbilt.  Defensively they shut down Tennessee and Arkansas.

Vanderbilt Commodores

The matchup that is most favorable for Baylor will likely be Vanderbilt.  They won six games but aren't very solid on the YPD comparisons against par.   Like Baylor they became bowl eligible in a game against Tennessee where one team got a bowl and the other stays home this winter.  They did surprisingly well against the Notre Dame and Missouri defenses.  Defensively they have struggled outside of the Tennessee and Kentucky games.

Cheez-It Bowl (vs Pac 12)

This bowl picks last for the Pac12's tie ins.  Now the Pac 12 has a selection system that is loosely based on record.   Bowls must pick from the teams with the best conference record or teams within one loss of those teams.  That basically means we will not see Wazzu, Utah, or Washington in Phoenix.  It also means if Stanford beats Cal in their rescheduled matchup this weekend that the Cardinal would not be on the list.

So who will they likely get?

Cal Golden Bears

The Bears stand a good chance of drawing the Golden Bears.  Cal is a team similar to TCU in that their offense is below par but they feature a strong defense.  Defensively they have done well outside of the Oregon game.

Arizona State Sun Devils

On the other end of the spectrum are the Sun Devils who feature an outstanding offense with a dual threat Quarterback, outstanding tailback, and probable first round talent at receiver.   Their defense is not strong however.  They performed similarly to Baylor against UTSA.

Oregon Ducks

One team that is technically possible is the Oregon Ducks.   They aren’t what they were a couple of years back but with an exciting NFL prospect at QB and a strong TV brand I don’t see them getting passed over.  Just in case though here’s their season snapshot.


Stanford Cardinal

The Cardinal can end up here with a loss to Cal and would be a decent matchup.   They are pretty typical on both sides of the ball.  They’ve been up and down most of the yuear with bad offensive games against UCLA, ND, and USC but outstanding efforts against Utah, Oregon State, and Wazzu.

If we see Wazzu sneak into the Peach or Fiesta then you could see any number of teams slip into this bowl as an at-large like Boise did two years ago.   It's unlikely but we could see a lot of names.  I've seen different projections point to BYU, San Diego State, Fresno State, Utah State, Nevada, and Northern Illinois.  It's up in the air if this unlikely scenario takes place.

Armed Forces Bowl

If the Big 12 only gets one team in the New Years Six then you will see one of TCU, Oklahoma State, or Baylor face off against what most projections that I have seen show as either Army or Houston.  Given their geographical preference, I could see them place Tulane or Memphis, too.  I highly doubt we see this bowl game even if the Big 12 gets only one team in the NY6 bowls.


Conclusion

The Bears have several matchups that should make for an exciting game.   Which teams do you want to face? 

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Discussion from...

The Breakdown: BU's bowl location and strength of potential opponents

Grizz Air
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1. Auburn
2. aggy
3. Stanford
4. Oregon
5. Arizona State
S11
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Staff
Grizz Air said:

1. Auburn
2. aggy
3. Stanford
4. Oregon
5. Arizona State


One vote for Auburn! Who does everyone else want?
SDtoWaco
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S11 said:

Grizz Air said:

1. Auburn
2. aggy
3. Stanford
4. Oregon
5. Arizona State


One vote for Auburn! Who does everyone else want?
Great article btw! I predict it will be Texas Bowl vs Auburn, which I think would be awesome. This is based off what someone in another post said they heard from a staff member plus the Texas Bowl website listing us and Auburn first respectively in their lists (which are not in alphabetical order).
S11
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Staff
SDtoWaco said:

S11 said:

Grizz Air said:

1. Auburn
2. aggy
3. Stanford
4. Oregon
5. Arizona State


One vote for Auburn! Who does everyone else want?
Great article btw! I predict it will be Texas Bowl vs Auburn, which I think would be awesome. This is based off what someone in another post said they heard from a staff member plus the Texas Bowl website listing us and Auburn first respectively in their lists (which are not in alphabetical order).


It's a pairing that would make sense on both sides.

Baylor would travel well

Auburn recruits Texas a little more than South Carolina, Vandy. Miss State likely goes east and they keep A&M (again) from a game that could harm them in recruiting comparisons with Texas schools. Mizzou was there last year too.
muddybrazos
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Auburn, the cocks or vandy
SmokytheBear
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Baylor needs to play in the Cheez-it Bowl ! We need to play a team that is evenly matched up !
1. Cal
2. Vandy
3. Stanford
4. Oregon
SmokytheBear
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Baylor needs to play in the Cheez-it Bowl ! We need to play a team that is evenly matched up !
1. Cal
2. Vandy
3. Stanford
4. Oregon
5. Auburn
BearTooth
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Anybody but Aggy. I hope we never play those mouth breathing collie humpers again. Ever.
S11
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Staff
They results from yesterday don't change my assumptions. Stanford also beat Cal so I doubt Stanford gets the CheezIt Bowl as the PAC12 selection rules probably pick them up earlier.
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