While this doesn't have quite the import that we were hoping, this game may be a lot similar to 2009 where last second heroics and a big drive win the day. Oregon State has improved tremendously since last year and matches up well against our defense and offense. This one...is gonna be tough.
FEI is the Fremeau Efficiency Index, created by Brian Fremeau. Brian Fremeau is an author at Football Outsiders, ESPN and BCFToys. FEI is an advanced statistical measure for college football that tracks drive efficiency instead of per-play success.
S+P is created by Bill Connelly. Bill Connelly is an author at SBNation, RockMNation, Football Study Hall and Football Outsiders. S+P is an advanced statistical measure which combines success rate, explosiveness per play and opponent adjustments.
How S+P sees the game:
Has the Ball ...
|When Oregon State has the ball...|
||ORE Off||OSU Def||ORE Def||OSU Off|
|S&P+ Rk||2 (262.7)||18(234.3)||1(142.8)||23(115.1)||17 (119.9)||18 (119.2)|
|Rushing S&P+ Rk||3 (146.8)||
|Passing S&P+ Rk||2(150.6)||21(122.7)||10(137.8)||17 (127.9)|
|Std. Downs S&P+ Rk||1 (135.2)||36(109.8)||43 (106.1)||12 (124.3)|
|Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk||29 (123.0)||3(165.9)||8(145.0)||34 (119.7)|
|Raw S&P||1 (1.063)||21(.641)||16(.615)||65(.769)|
|Raw Success Rate||1 (55.0)||36(39.7)||32 (37.6)||77(41.6)|
|Raw PPP||1 (.51)||16(.24)||11 (.23)||56(.35)|
S+P still loves Oregon's offense, but it declined a bit. But only a bit. Same with defense - but only a bit. At this point in the season unless a team really does poorly (Kansas State fits the bill here) you'll not get a ton of movement, win or lose, if you're at the top. Oregon got a bit worse (and F/+ actually has us below S+P and FEI, which is odd) but neither offense or defense went down that much.
But. The trendlines for our defense continue to go down. We continued to be bad at stopping the run. We continued struggles in running the ball (significantly so in this case). While our pass defense was pretty good and remains fairly good (at least statistically), our run defense is still quite weak. More on that in a bit.
And our passing of course dropped, though only to #2.
Similarity scores for S+P: Oregon State is most similar but worse than USC (13th) on offense. They are worse than Arizona (11th) and better than Arkansas State (29th). This should be pretty concerning, as they're a lot more similar to USC than Arizona in play style and weapons. On defense, Oregon State is similar to Washington (22nd), better than Cal (35th) and worse than Fresno State (16th). They are significantly worse than Stanford (4th).
For Oregon State, Oregon is significantly better than anything that Oregon State has faced on offense this season. Arizona is closest (11th) but the difference is almost 20 points. If this sounds familiar, this is exactly what I wrote for Stanford as well. If that gets you worried, join the club. On defense, Oregon is similar to Washington (22nd) and Wisconsin (13th) and worse than Stanford (4th, by 18 points).
Oregon's offense vs. Oregon State's defense
Oregon State's defense is significantly worse than Stanford's defense - but at this point, most teams are in that boat. Nevertheless, that should give some confidence. In particular their rushing defense is only 30th in the nation, and is significantly lower than our rushing offense. This is a big key; we have seen how important it is to establish the run early. Similarly, Oregon State is 36th in standard downs, which is a 26 point differential between Oregon and OSU. Oregon should have a lot of success early in the count and running the ball.
However, Oregon State is much better against the pass than the run; though we do have a 28 point differential, I consider this something of a mirage. Why a mirage? Because we don't pass nearly as much as we run. So yes, we're efficient at it when we do pass but that passing isn't that often. Most importantly, OSU has a massive lead over Oregon in passing downs. If Oregon can't make progress on early downs expect Oregon to punt. Seriously, it's a huge gulf - they have a 43 point lead here. Teams have less than a 30% 3rd down conversion rate. This is by far the best that we've faced on any team. If we get into 3rd and longs chances are Mariota is going to be running for his life or there will be interceptions (17 on the season so far).
One last thing - Oregon State is just decent against standard success rates and methodical drives but very good against explosive drives. Similar to Stanford, only expect one or two really big plays in the game.
Oregon's Defense vs Oregon State's offense
Oregon State's secret is balance; while we think about the explosive drives and big plays of their receivers, those are all set up by their run game. And this is a decent advantage - 10 points. This is bigger than the advantage Stanford had over Oregon, so expect a lot of running - and honestly, at this point it's very clear that Oregon is not defending the run nearly as well as they did early in the season. Oregon does have a 10-point advantage against the pass. And much like Oregon vs. Oregon State, Oregon's D is weaker against the standard down (a 20 point advantage for OSU) but very strong against passing downs (26 point advantage for Oregon). In this respect Oregon and Oregon State are going to have very similar results - as long as the standard downs are fine, Oregon State will advance; if Oregon stops OSU early, expect a stall. That being said, I expect a bit more consistency but less overall success with Oregon State due to the values here. Oregon State may make a 3rd and long here and there; Oregon almost certainly won't. Oregon State may fail early on to run the ball; Oregon likely won't.
And almost opposite to the above, if Oregon State succeeds it'll be because of explosive plays; they tend to be better at that than they are at success rate.
How FEI sees the game:
Some definitions from the FEI site. For offense, these are the drives that the offense does. For defense, these are the drives that the defense has allowed. Also note that these are not weighted by defensive strength or anything like that, so they correspond best to raw overall numbers.
First down rate: the % of drives that result in at least one first down.
Available Yards: the ratio of yards gained by total yards to go
Explosive drives: the % of drives that average at least 10 yards per play.
Methodical drives: the % of drives that take 10 or more plays
Value Drives: the % of drives that start on their side of the field and make it to the opposing 30 yard line or better.
Has the Ball ...
|When Oregon State has the ball...|
||ORE Off||OSU Def||ORE Def||OSU Off|
|FEI Rk||3 (.268)||8 (.224)||10(.442)||21(-.440)||11 (-.542)||12(.431)|
|Field Position||20 (.536)||53(.510)|
|Raw OE/DE||7 (.611)||19(-.400)||10(-.523)||57(.059)|
|First Down rate||23 (.752)||39(.634)||33(.629)||67(.664)|
|Available Yards rate||7(.590)||22 (.376)||25(.388)||59(.468)|
|Methodical Drives||17 (.197)||47(.130)||66 (.147)||52 (.148)|
|Value Drives||8(.537)||14(.274)||36 (.330)||44 (.431)|
|Special Team rank||47(.470)||43(.607)|
|Field Goal efficiency||120(-.704)||25(.343)|
|Punt Return efficiency||25(.028)||91(-.164)|
|Kickoff return efficiency||37(-.063)||69(-.168)|
|kickoff efficiency||51 (-.182)||39(-.201)|
I was trying to figure out why we are #2 in S+P and #3 in FEI but #4 in F/+ - well, there we go. FEI counts special teams - and S+P natively doesn't. S+P instead imports FEI's scores for special teams, which counts them twice. Our special teams dropped 1.2 points from the 20s to 47. So that's why. I think this is one of the most disappointing things this season - how bad our special teams are this year. Especially field goal kicking - but more on that in a bit.
And once again, FEI values our opponent more than S+P does. And this is again because of who we have (and haven't) faced. Oregon State is highly ranked in FEI primarily because they have had a very hard schedule of really good teams. No great teams, exactly - but really good ones. As far as FEI is concerned Oregon State is our toughest opponent yet - harder than Stanford.
Similarity scores for FEI: Oregon State on offense is similar to but worse than Arizona (5th). And that's really it; as far as FEI is concerned Oregon hasn't faced anyone of note on offense, and Oregon State really is one of the biggest challenges so far for the defense. If you're curious, USC shows up at 24th, a full 12 spots down. I still think USC is probably the closest example of how Oregon State will behave compared to Oregon, but FEI really, really likes Oregon State's chances. On defense, Oregon State is closest to...kind of no one. The closest are Fresno State (31st) and Washington (33rd), but Oregon State is much better. The other way is Stanford, but Stanford is much, much better than Oregon state (4th, -.706). Oregon State is the second best defense we've faced.
For Oregon State, Oregon is also closest to Arizona and no one else, though unlike S+P Oregon appears to be not the top of the block. The next closest to Oregon on offense is UCLA (26th). On defense, Oregon is closest but much worse than Stanford (4th) and slightly better than Wisconsin (13th) and BYU (16th). Two of those games were nailbiters for Oregon State; the third was, well, not so much.
Oregon's offense vs Oregon State's defense
Oregon and Oregon State match up about as close as can be on Offense. Really, on everything; they're almost identical as far as FEI is concerned. Oregon has faced significantly easier defenses and Oregon State significantly harder offenses, so the raw numbers are all in Oregon's favor - but Oregon State appears to be almost a mirror image. There isn't really any specific value here; Oregon State is almost consistently near where Oregon is as far as offense vs. defense. Oregon's great at explosive drives, Oregon State is good at stopping them. Same for methodical, same for value, same for available yards. When the values offset like this you tend to have close games and lucky calls; I'd expect the same here. Don't expect the same things to work, don't expect a lot of explosive or methodical drives. Do expect some field position gains here and there.
Oregon's defense vs. Oregon State's offense
Supposedly this is a big advantage, but at this point of the season I suspect that this is a bug. FEI has routinely overvalued Oregon's defense. This has been course correcting over time, but it still isn't down to where I suspect it should be. The main reason is that amazing game against Arizona. If you look at BCF toys and look at Oregon's breakdowns there were two games where Oregon's defense was higher than 11.3 in points value - Arizona and Arizona State. Everything else has been below that, sometimes significantly so. Take out those two high values and our average value is only 2.4 per game - hardly a worldbeating defense. The variability of Oregon's D is quite high as well; our high is 25 points, our low is -20.9. In any case, I find this suspicious.
Never the less, Oregon's defense is supposed to be the strength of this matchup, giving a .100 point advantage over Oregon State. The big scary thing is the methodical drives; Oregon gives up methodical drives quite often. The good thing is that Oregon prevents explosive drives most of the time. Of course, the one game where Oregon gave up plenty of explosive drives was...USC. Which is about as similar to Oregon State's style as you can get.
Ugh. Oregon is the worst in the country in field goal kicking. Congrats, Oregon. 120 out of 120. I went back and compared to prior years. We were 65th last year. 73rd in 2010, 60th in 2009, 74th in 2008, and an amazing 26th in 2007. This is a massive advantage for Oregon State, and a good indicator that we should almost certainly not be kicking field goals any time soon. The one large advantage here is Oregon's punting vs. Oregon State's apparent putrid punt returns. We could expect some turnovers here, but at the very least we shouldn't expect any big breakaways. For Oregon, it's clear that this isn't the year for De'Anthony Thomas to make a significant impact on returns. I don't expect anything else here, as Oregon State is good enough on special teams to care. If this game comes down to an extra point or a field goal, don't bet on Oregon.
So what does this all mean?
While a lot of this should cause concern in the way that many other opponents have not, I'm still a bit optimistic - but only a bit. Oregon State does have a good defense - but their defense is not an elite one. The difference is that Oregon State has a much better offense than Stanford does. That being said, I'd much prefer relying on our offense to win the day than our defense at this point of the season.
Offensively Oregon must establish the run. This will be hard, but not impossible. If Oregon does do some variety and tries multiple types of runs I expect some success. If Oregon mixes up passing to keep Oregon State honest, I expect success. Oregon State does not have the personnel to do the same thing Stanford did; they cannot shed blocks like Stanford could, and having the linebackers 6-7 yards back will not work a second time provided we learn from our mistakes and do more IZR and power runs immediately. I would hope this means more runs to De'Anthony Thomas and Colt Lyerla. Note that Oregon State handled mobile QBs fairly well overall; Matt Scott didn't run excessively well, and neither did Hundley.
Where I am very concerned is with our defense. Oregon State has a very basic but hugely effective offense that counts on the run to work and then beats you with accurate long passes when the run must be committed to. This is entirely what has worked against our defense for years, and it will likely work again. With Avery Patterson out this means a lot of pressure will be on Erick Dargan - and that's a scary thing for me. Oregon State can be blitzed and pressure can be had; I think that the key to our pass defense will be Dion Jordan more than Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
I do think Oregon will win provided they play a clean game. I also think it'll be close. The spread is about 10 points in favor of Oregon; I believe it'll be a closer game than that.