Pre-Game Analysis: Oklahoma - NinosCorner Sports | Efficient Sports Analytics...Successful, Relevant Data

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pre-Game Analysis: Oklahoma

Pre-Game Analysis:  Oklahoma
by B.R. Battle
Photo by:  Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Oklahoma, AP’s #12 ranked team in the nation, comes into the Red River Showdown (RRS) as a +8 point favorite, according to Vegas.  However, as we all know, when Texas and Oklahoma play, all rankings and lines can go out the door.  Let’s face it…these two teams live to play each other midseason of every year.  Texas vs Oklahoma symbolizes a year’s worth of bragging rights for the winner.  It can swing recruiting momentum for either team. It means much more than just another win or loss on each team’s record.  Essentially, this game is more than just another “game.”

Texas enters the RRS with some confidence from their double overtime win this past weekend against Kansas State.  Oklahoma trots into the game, fresh off of their program’s worst loss in school history.  After coming into their previous game against Iowa State as a 30 point favorite, Oklahoma lost the game to the Cyclones, resulting in the largest point differential swing loss in the past 40 years of the school’s football program. How did the, then #3 team in the country, let this happen?  Let’s take a look at the metrics.  

Oklahoma’s overall defensive success rate (SR) was 8 points better than the 45% NCAA average.  Their 53% SR looks pretty good on paper, but once you take a closer look at the analysis, you can see exactly why they lost.  Oklahoma jumped out to an early 14-3 lead in the first quarter, where they had a defensive SR of 69%, which is elite level defensive productivity.  In fact, their defensive success continued into the 2nd quarter, where they posted a 63% SR.  The Sooners were able to take a 24-13 lead into halftime, where most thought the game was safe for Oklahoma.  

On the contrary, the game was just beginning for Iowa State as the Sooner defensive SR decreased significantly in the 3rd quarter to 47%, which was 15% less than that of the 2nd quarter and just 2 points higher than the NCAA average.  This allowed the Oklahoma defense to give up 11 points in the 3rd quarter.  The Sooner offense did not help  in this quarter either.  They were held scoreless, rendering a slightly above NCAA average offensive SR of 43% for this period.  Oklahoma’s inefficient offense and decreasing defense success rate over this quarter, gave Iowa State the necessary momentum to take over the game.  

The 4th quarter was no better showing for Oklahoma either.  Their defense posted a SR far less than the NCAA average.  In fact, the Sooner’s defense SR was 31% for this period, resulting in Iowa State scoring 14 points and seize the lead without ever looking back.  
In addition to the decreasing success rates per quarter, the Oklahoma defense also had decreasing success rates per down, per quarter.  The Sooners exhibited another trait not conducive to winning.  They posted a trend of decreasing success rates for each down in every quarter.  For example, in regards to 1st downs, Oklahoma’s SR decreased from 100% in the 1st quarter, to 67% in the 2nd quarter, to 43% in the 3rd quarter, to 29% in the 4th quarter.  This trend shows that the defense allowed the Iowa State offense to stay on the field longer, resulting in prolonged drives that tire out a defense over the long haul.  View the graphic below to see the decreasing trends for all downs per quarter.
My last point of analysis to state why Oklahoma lost this game is that their defense allowed 10 explosive plays, averaging 33 yards per play, with 3 of those plays going for touchdowns.  No team can expect to win games giving up plays of this magnitude at the rate Oklahoma did in this game.  

So, how does Texas win this game on Saturday?  First off, the Longhorns need to play sound defense and limit Baker Mayfield from making plays with his feet.  If Texas plays defense like they have shown they can play this year, minus the Maryland game, the Longhorns can subdue the impact of the Sooner offense.  Judging by our analysis, the Sooner defense, especially their secondary, can be exploited by this talented Texas wide receiving corps.  The length advantage that the Longhorn receivers have should be utilized continuously throughout the game.  

I’m fully expecting freshman quarterback, Sam Ehlinger, to start this game; therefore, this will greatly assist the receivers ability to get open.  When plays break down and Ehlinger improvises with his legs, defenses will have to adjust and, as a result, allow the Longhorn receivers a little space for a wider throwing window for Ehlinger.  This will be a hard fought game; however, if Texas can exploit Oklahoma’s defensive vulnerabilities, he Longhorns will have a really good shot of being successful on Saturday afternoon.   

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