Baylor Football

S11: Initial Impressions of Baylor vs. Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl

December 3, 2018

The news is official! Baylor will take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in the Texas Bowl!

So what do we make of Baylor’s selection?  What are some initial impressions of Vandy? What are some things to watch?

The Selection

As I guessed in the bowl projection article the Texas Bowl looked at how well Baylor traveled to the 2010 game and picked the Big 12 team with the most Texas based alumni. The Bears were taken by the first bowl that could have realistically taken them.  This is a big compliment as TCU and OSU have very good reputations with viewers and would have shown up well.

Vanderbilt at a Glance

The Commodores have a record of 6-6 with wins over Middle Tennessee State, Nevada, Tennessee State, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Tennessee.  They also had single score losses to #3 Notre Dame, #14 Kentucky, and #23 Missouri.  They also lost by 10 to #10 Florida.   This team doesn’t have the best wins but they have been more than tough against some stout opponents.

Offensively they average below what other Power Conference teams do against their P5 opponents in yards per drive.   However they have been much better over the final four games where three of the four defenses were a bit easier.  Their worst outing was South Carolina which ironically came right after their best outing (compared to expectations) against Notre Dame.

Defensively they have struggled over their season but have some good schemes and some good players. Much like the Baylor defense though, they are a work in progress.  They had very good games against Tennessee and Kentucky and overall do a great job in points per red zone trip.

Head Coach Derek Mason

He’s the former Defensive Coordinator for Stanford when they shut down some of Oregon’s best offenses in 2012 and 2013.  His team is built much like Stanford was which is probably what Vandy had in mind when he was hired. 

He runs a multiple 3-4 defense stylistically similar to what Baylor faced against Texas, Tech, UTSA, OU, and ACU.  Considering Baylor’s offensive similarity to what Oregon did under Chip Kelly and Mason’s successes against that this could be a great chess match in the game.

The last time Vandy played a Big 12 opponent they did a great job using a tite front to limit KSU’s offense.


Offensively their coordinator Andy Ludwig has a very good resume.

  • He coordinated the offense for Utah’s Sugar Bowl upset of Alabama that relied on spread passing schemes.
  • He and Jeff Tedford running Mike Bellotti’s West Coast Offenses at Oregon in the early 2000’s
  • He coached David Carr’s standout seasons at Fresno State
  • He coached outstanding running games at San Diego State with Ronnie Hillman and Adam Muema that thrived against MWC defenses.
  • The outstanding seasons for Melvin Gordon at Wisconsin which featured a 408 yard curbstomping of Nebraska. They also made it to the Big Ten title game in 2014.


Did you know?

Matt Rhule has faced Derek Mason’s Commodores before- way back in 2014.  It was a 37-7 stomping that helped get Temple’s turnaround going in Rhule’s second year.   The Owls forced 7 turnovers and only surrendered points on a fumbled punt snap.

How do they match up?

Obviously my opinion will change and get far more detailed as I begin to break them down for the film study articles later but initially based on the numbers there is good reason for confidence on the Baylor side offensively.  Vandy’s defensive yardage profile is similar to teams like KSU, OSU, Tech, and OU that Baylor was able to have solid games against.   

Offensively the Commodores are similar in YPD profile to what Duke, KSU, TCU, and Kansas.  Baylor has been up and down this fall which could be an opportunity for Vandy who has done well against defenses like BU outside of the blunder against South Carolina.  However Baylor did well defensively against two of those and did well in their last game against Tech’s capable offense.

Final Thoughts

Baylor had several matchups in three different potential destinations that varied wildly.  I think this is a favorable one but it’s not an easy game as Vandy has opened as a 2.5 point favorite in this game. This is likely due to how well they played in their losses to highly ranked teams. Both teams are 6-6 and made it here by winning de-facto semifinal games against 5-7 Texas Tech and 5-7 Tennessee.  Vandy gave some very good teams a tough fight such as Notre Dame and Kentucky, they won’t be any easy out.  Vandy is 16th in turnover margin and will punch harder than their statistics imply for that reason, similar to how Duke and K-State do.  They’ll ugly this game up and try to take the fight to Baylor head on.

Baylor has a big opportunity to go 7-6 and get a lot of momentum for 2018.  They will need to bring a physical game to Houston to get it done.

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Discussion from...

S11: Initial Impressions of Baylor vs. Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl

Grizz Air
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My biggest fear is that they will get 7 turnovers from us like Temple did to them back in 2014.
Grizz Air
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If we can keep the turnover margin to 0 or even +1 in Vandy's favor, I like our chances. Also gotta be able to run a little bit.
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Grizz Air said:

If we can keep the turnover margin to 0 or even +1 in Vandy's favor, I like our chances.

I do too
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