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How FEI and S+P see the Alamo Bowl: Oregon vs Texas 2013

What teams will show up? Is it the Oregon pre-Stanford, with convincing wins over Washington and UCLA? Is it the Texas team that beat Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry and is playing Mack Brown's last game with a rousing sendoff? Is it the Oregon team that had its only average game against Arizona and narrowly squeaked by OSU? Or maybe it's the Texas team that lost to BYU? Stats won't tell us who will show up - but they can tell us what will happen in those cases.

Byron Marshall's return is huge.
Byron Marshall's return is huge.
Steve Dykes

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:

There are some new stats from Bill Connelly this year.

Play Efficiency: the success per play based on the down and distance of the play.

Drive Efficiency: the success of scoring based on the field position created.

Difference in Net Points (DNP): the average of the points an offense scores on a given drive compared to the points it would be expected to score based on starting field position.

And the old ones:

Passing downs: second down and 8 or more, or 3rd/4th down and 5 or more.

OVERALL When Oregon has the ball When Texas has the ball
Category Oregon


UO Off UT Def UO Def UT Off
F/+ Rk 8 (30.8%) 39 (10.8%) 6 (19.5%) 43 (4.5%) 26 (8.8%) 46 (4.2%)
S&P+ 9 (247.1) 49 (214.1) 6 (132.7) 51 (108.3) 36 (114.4) 45 (105.9)
Play Efficiency

4 (136.9) 45 (105.1) 43 (106.2) 56 (103.4)
Rushing S&P+

2 (139.9) 62 (102.6) 57 (104.9) 65 (101.8)
Passing S&P+

7 (137.1) 36 (110.5) 56 (103.3) 40 (109.5)
Std. Downs S&P+

6 (130.8) 61 (102.2) 43 (106.5) 50 (106.1)
Pass. Downs S&P+

5 (151.4) 27 (117.1) 46 (107.9) 55 (103.8)
Drive Efficiency

12 (128.5) 54 (111.5) 30 (122.6) 42 (108.3)
Difference in Net Points

5 (1.24) 55 (-0.61) 3 (-1.97) 59 (-0.14)

If you read my Oregon-Alabama what if, you'll notice that not a whole lot of numbers changed for Oregon. Not surprising; we didn't have any games left, so it was just opponent adjustments. Thanks to Stanford trouncing Arizona State again the Stanford game looks even better than it did before. That was pretty much the main change.

And just as before, we have a great offense - and a defense that looks entirely average.

Similarity scores for Texas

On offense...sigh. The most similar team to Texas is Arizona (47th). But the good news is that that is almost entirely in overall rank; they're nothing like Arizona as far as their ability to run the ball. They're much better passing the ball and much much worse at running the ball and in standard downs. The other team they're close to is Oregon State (41st). Oregon State is also much better at standard downs, but very close at running the ball. The biggest difference between OSU and Texas is that Texas relies heavily on running the ball - they run 60% of the time. They're just not that efficient at it. By comparison, Arizona runs even more than Texas (close to 70% of the time).

On defense Texas (51st) is kind of in a no-mans land, as defenses in the Pac-12 were either awesome or sucktacular. Tennessee (43rd), Arizona (35th) and Washington State (64th) are close-ish. From a point differential Tennessee is closest, though they are much better on standard downs and much better against the pass. Texas is the worst rushing defense of any of those.

Similarity scores for Oregon

Baylor (2nd) is closer on offense than basically anyone else on Texas' plate. The next closest is Kansas State (17th). Both are about 10 points in difference from Oregon (though obviously in different directions). Baylor is significantly worse at running the ball and significantly better at passing; Kansas State is worse in basically every way.

Oregon is closest to Oklahoma (31st) on defense. Obviously this means a huge blowout. OWAIT. Oklahoma is much better against the pass than Oregon; Oregon is much better against the run than Oklahoma. An interesting factoid: Texas lost to the best defenses on their plate: BYU(16th), Ole Miss(20th), OK State(9th) and Baylor(15th). They were pretty great against the teams with mediocre defenses. This doesn't speak well to Oregon's defensive chances.

Oregon's offense vs Texas' defense

There is nothing that indicates Texas will be able to stop or remotely slow down Oregon here. Oregon has a 36 point differential at rushing, and with Byron Marshall back that will only be more accurate. They have a 27 point differential on passing and on standard downs. And on passing downs, Oregon is incredibly good compared to the rest of the world; they have a 34 point advantage there. The biggest flaw in Oregon's offense is Oregon finishing drives, which we've talked about elsewhere. Texas is average here as they are everywhere; they don't cause a ton of turnovers or get a lot of stops on drives. If Oregon can manage to finish drives and not blow 4th down chances Oregon should be doing exceedingly well.

Oregon's defense vs Texas' offense

In theory this should also be a small advantage for Oregon. Despite Texas running the ball often they're only 65th in the nation at running the ball. They have a slight advantage passing and are otherwise dead even across the board. Oregon's advantages at causing turnovers combined with Texas' proclivity for losing them should give some advantage here as well. Of course, that is the average of all the games the Oregon D has played - the good ones against Washington and UCLA and the horrible ones against Arizona and Stanford and Oregon State. We'll get a better idea of what to expect if good D/bad D show up in the FEI section.

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.

Field Position Advantage (FPA): the share of the value of total starting field position earned by each team against their opponents.

OVERALL When Oregon has the ball When Texas has the ball
Category Oregon


UO Off UT Def UO Def UT Off
F/+ Rk 8 (30.8%) 39 (10.8%) 6 (19.5%) 43 (4.5%) 26 (8.8%) 46 (4.2%)
FEI Rk .232 (11) .088 (38) 7 (.612) 37 (-.208) 21 (-.364) 42 (.151)
Field Position 14 (.540) 46 (.512)

Raw Efficiency 4 (.277) 54 (.038) 4 (.654) 31 (-.234) 18 (-.383) 76 (-.099)
First Down rate

7 (.793) 30 (.630) 43 (.648) 56 (.691)
Available Yards rate

2 (.634) 29 (.404) 33 (.410) 69 (.442)
Explosive Drives

8 (.231) 63 (.123) 6 (.064) 79 (.112)
Methodical Drives

99 (.116) 17 (.110) 21 (.112) 85 (.125)
Value Drives

1 (.608) 48 (.364) 22 (.306) 54 (.396)
Special Team rank 24 (1.430) 30 (1.213)

Field Goal efficiency 99 (-.294) 12 (.624)

Punt Return efficiency 3 (.252) 24 (.057)

Kickoff return efficiency 9 (.060) 70 (-.171)

punt efficiency 102 (.036) 45 (-.112)

kickoff efficiency 74 (-.124) 96 (-.063)

Thanks to Oregon's proclivity to not finish drives and play a weak schedule FEI has never warmed up to Oregon that much. Still, S+P and FEI largely agree on how good Oregon is and what kind of team Oregon is.

Game Factors: the best and worst of the teams

As before,there are more explanations and examples over at Football Outsiders.

Oregon's highs and lows

high on offense: Washington (8th overall, 2.269)

low on offense: California (1132, -.338) (Arizona is next at 593)

Standard deviation (throwing out the Cal game): 180

high on defense: UCLA (31 overall, -1.096)

low on defense: Arizona (855th overall, .525)

Standard deviation (throwing out the Cal game): 237

Thanks to UCLA obliterating a great USC defense, the UCLA performance looks even better. Otherwise we're still very consistent on offense and defense. Unfortunately our defense is consistently mediocre, but our offense is consistently good. There have been two bad performances by our offense all season - the Cal game and Arizona. There's very little reason to think that we'll play as badly as either of those games. On defense we're much more likely to play in the range of Colorado/WSU/OSU/Stanford than we are Utah/UCLA/Washington. Arizona remains a heavy outlier.

Texas' highs and lows

high on offense: BYU(214, 1.155)

low on offense: New Mexico State (908, .015)

standard deviation: 277

high on defense: Oklahoma (49, -1.010)

low on defense: BYU (1053, .805)

standard deviation: 355

If you're wondering whether or not firing their defensive coordinator made a difference to Texas as far as advanced stats go - the answer is 'eh'. They had a horrible set of games against BYU, Mississippi and Kansas State around that time. They had a really horrible game long after, against Kansas. The last two weeks their defense has been playing really amazingly well (TTech and Baylor), but they looked really bad against WVU and OKState. The main thing to note is that Texas plays all over the place on both sides of the ball. Their offense goes from good to bad; their defense from great to horrible. They have managed to put together games that were good on both sides of the ball (KState, OK) but usually one side or the other falters. This makes it pretty hard to predict what will happen.

Similarity scores for Texas

Texas is closest to Utah (36th) and Oregon State (46th) on offense. All three have played a very hard slate of defenses, so they're all pretty comparable to each other. Oregon State gets more yards per drive than Texas does, Utah fewer. Both Utah and OSU are more explosive.

Texas is closest to Utah on defense (32nd), though Virginia (46th) also comes close. Texas has only faced an average set of offenses. They're very similar to Utah in style, though they're much better at stopping methodical drives.

Similarity scores for Oregon

As before, Oregon is closest to Baylor(12th) on offense - though this time, Oregon is the one that's better. Oregon has also faced a significantly harder schedule than Baylor. Baylor is very different in style - more explosive, more methodical, but less likely to get yards on every drive.

On defense Oregon is most similar to Oklahoma (22nd) and Baylor (19th). Oklahoma and Oregon have faced almost identically hard offenses as well. Oregon is much better at stopping explosive drives but worse at getting 3 and outs.

Oregon's offense vs Texas' defense

Oregon has a huge advantage here - 400 points. This is almost precisely what I said against Arizona. So - if you think that Oregon is going to play as badly on offense as they did against Arizona, chances are they'll play about the same kind of sloppy game vs. Texas. One thing does stand out here - Texas is good across the board save one place - explosive drives. They're 63rd in the country in allowing drives that average 10+ yards a play. That's not a good sign against an Oregon team that does best when they don't have long drives.

Oregon's defense vs. Texas' offense

Oregon only has a 200 point differential in their favor here, but FEI still thinks Oregon's D should do very well. Or at least 'can'. The trick, of course, is what defense shows up. If the average defense Oregon has shows up - which has been more than half of the games we've played and hovers around 400th overall - we can expect Texas to do about as well as they did against Oklahoma (36 points) or TCU (30). If the good defense shows up - which has been the case against Stanford, Utah, Washington and UCLA - we can expect something better than Oklahoma State (13 points) or BYU (21). Regardless, I would not expect Texas to obliterate Oregon and score a ton of points; they're simply too inconsistent from drive to drive to do that, and if nothing else will shoot themselves in the foot.

Special Teams

Oregon should get excellent returns on kickoffs; Texas is 96th overall on kicking, and Oregon is 9th. Similarly Texas should get great returns on punts; Oregon is 102nd, Texas 24th. Texas is of course better at field goals and is in fact one of the best in the country. Oregon has a good chance on punt returns as well. As always, this means if the game ends up relying on field goals Oregon is likely to lose. If the game hinges on a special teams play other than that, Oregon has good chances.

So what does this all mean?

Oregon should win.

Oregon should not only win, they should win handily. Their offense should dominate repeatedly, similar to the Virginia, Tennessee or Utah games. Their defense should be acceptable enough and cause enough turnovers to get stops.

Oregon has shown that they can perform at that high level - even in more recent games. They've shown that their defense can play well enough and their offense can play lights out. Marcus Mariota is healthier than he's been in a while, Byron Marshall is back. Nick Aliotti will hopefully not be surprised that Texas decided to run the ball. The Oregon offense is still one of the best in the nation. The Texas defense is still a mediocre squad.


That doesn't mean we will play at that level. While we've shown we can play at a great level of skill, we've also shown that we can play at an entirely average one, as we did in the Arizona game - and we've shown that our coaching staff has almost no quality control or ignores the advice it gives, as Aliotti was surprised when Oregon State ran the ball so much against us. That sort of thing - not scouting your own team's weaknesses and not making adjustments - is what we maligned other coaching staffs across the country for doing and what Oregon typically did exceedingly well. We can hope that the Arizona game was a wakeup call, but that things didn't get changed 3 weeks later is not a great sign.

The current spread is Oregon -14. That is what should happen if Oregon plays to their level. I just don't see that happening, especially given that it's essentially a home game for Texas, it's Mack Brown's last game and we've not demonstrated a turnaround. If I were a betting man, I'd take Texas and the points. I still think we win, but I think it's a lot closer than 14.