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Football Advanced Stats: Big Game Edition

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All is fair in Laird and Love

NCAA Football: Oregon State at California Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Cal marched down the field and kept the ball away from OSU. The defense stymied the OSU run game (on a big play basis) and kept the passing game inviable by suppressing the passing offense to a 27% success rate.

California Golden Bears, 5-5 (2-5, Pac-12 North), Overall #89 (Up by 12)

Cal Overall

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 26.1 87 29.1 77
Points Per Game 32.4 80 32.7 67

Cal has a 52.6% chance of being a 6-6 or better team. What is interesting that Cal has a 23% chance of beating Furd and a 39% chance of beating UCLA. Yet looking at both of the team’s statistics and via the eye test the game ought to be much wider.

Offense

Cal Offense Overall

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Success Rate 40.50% 80 40.30%
IsoPPP 1.11 90 1.17
Avg. FP 30.4 48 29.5
Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.4 75 4.41

Cal Offense Detail

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing S&P+ 95.2 88 100
Rushing Success Rate 43.20% 65 42.40%
Rushing IsoPPP 0.83 92 0.91
Adj. Line Yards 92.2 111 100
Opportunity Rate 37.00% 84 38.90%
Power Success Rate 63.20% 93 68.20%
Stuff Rate 20.80% 89 19.10%
Passing S&P+ 98.3 74 100
Passing Success Rate 38.50% 89 40.30%
Passing IsoPPP 1.34 98 1.47
Adj. Sack Rate 103.6 64 100

Cal relies on 3 wideouts and a running back for the bulk of the passing game. With the running back being also the centerpiece of the running game I can safely say that Cal’s capacity to score enough points in this game will rely on the play of a former walk-on, fellow bookworm, Haas student: Patrick Laird, MVP.

Cal RBs

Player Pos. Ht, Wt Year Rushes Yards TD Yards/ Carry Hlt Yds/ Opp. Opp. Rate Fumbles (Lost)
Player Pos. Ht, Wt Year Rushes Yards TD Yards/ Carry Hlt Yds/ Opp. Opp. Rate Fumbles (Lost)
Patrick Laird RB 6'0, 200 JR 139 796 7 5.7 5.5 41.70% 3 (2)
Vic Enwere RB 6'0, 245 SR 98 352 5 3.6 3.9 32.70% 0 (0)
Ross Bowers QB 6'2, 200 SO 21 68 2 3.2 2 38.10% 9 (4)
Tre Watson RB 5'11, 205 SR 17 83 0 4.9 2.1 52.90% 0 (0)

As Laird is the only person on the team with more than 1000 yards from scrimmage, the team relies on his performance to move the ball downfield. All eyes should be on Laird the next two games, whether Cal produces or not will depend on a guy who would’ve been happy with 30 carries on the season. Ain’t this the most Berkeley story though? In the most inspirational way possible.

Defense

Cal Defense

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Success Rate 46.10% 112 40.30%
IsoPPP 1.09 35 1.17
Avg. FP 31.6 112 29.5
Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.19 50 4.41

The Cal defense relative to the offense is marginally better. With the focus being on stopping the Bryce Love’s march towards a 2000 yard season. All signs point towards Cal not shutting down the back, but trying their best to frustrate Love and Shaw and put the game on the QB’s shoulders on key downs.

Cal Defense Detail

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing S&P+ 93.6 93 100
Rushing Success Rate 50.20% 124 42.40%
Rushing IsoPPP 0.81 26 0.91
Adj. Line Yards 95.3 82 100
Opportunity Rate 42.40% 112 38.90%
Power Success Rate 81.60% 126 68.20%
Stuff Rate 16.10% 104 19.10%
Passing S&P+ 106.4 43 100
Passing Success Rate 42.00% 81 40.30%
Passing IsoPPP 1.44 64 1.47
Adj. Sack Rate 104.6 59 100

One good sign for Cal is the fact that the leading tacklers on the team are not DBs but ILBs and OLBs. Which means that the team gets the LBs to the right gap, albeit considering the poor success rate prevention on the run game this could be an issue with players still learning their run assignments but being able to get there a step or two late.

L.Stanfurd Junior College, 7-3 (6-2, Pac-12 North), Overall #26

Furd Overall

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 33.1 28 26.3 56
Points Per Game 41.6 32 26.8 34

Stanfurd is a good team.... when they have Bryce Love. On defense they are an above average team with not much to showcase besides being reliable.

Offense AKA the Bryce Love Show

Furd Offense

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Success Rate 39.00% 102 40.30%
IsoPPP 1.46 3 1.17
Avg. FP 33.4 8 29.5
Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.92 28 4.41

Furd Offense Detail

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing S&P+ 109.7 47 100
Rushing Success Rate 39.30% 92 42.40%
Rushing IsoPPP 1.61 1 0.91
Adj. Line Yards 102.7 60 100
Opportunity Rate 38.30% 75 38.90%
Power Success Rate 72.00% 49 68.20%
Stuff Rate 19.70% 72 19.10%
Passing S&P+ 103.8 58 100
Passing Success Rate 38.50% 86 40.30%
Passing IsoPPP 1.28 112 1.47
Adj. Sack Rate 182.1 13 100

Stanfurd runs the ball 63% of the time. Cal remains poor in the way it stops the efficient run. Yet, it can shut down the big play capacity that the Furd run game leads the nation with Love carrying the rock. If Cal can limit Love’s explosive production and force Furd to keep driving the ball without depending on a big play, there is a chance Cal can force Furd to play out of its scheme. Especially considering the fact that Furd isn’t not efficient on the ground.

Furd RBs

Player Pos. Ht, Wt Year Rushes Yards TD Yards/ Carry Hlt Yds/ Opp. Opp. Rate Fumbles (Lost)
Player Pos. Ht, Wt Year Rushes Yards TD Yards/ Carry Hlt Yds/ Opp. Opp. Rate Fumbles (Lost)
Bryce Love RB 5'10, 196 JR 181 1622 12 9 13.9 41.40% 1 (0)
Cameron Scarlett RB 6'1, 213 JR 59 291 6 4.9 7.2 27.10% 0 (0)
Trevor Speights RB 5'11, 204 SO 25 89 0 3.6 3.9 28.00% 0 (0)
Dorian Maddox RB 5'10, 199 SO 12 37 0 3.1 2.5 16.70% 0 (0)
Keller Chryst QB 6'5, 234 SR 11 50 1 4.5 2.2 45.50% 2 (1)
K.J. Costello QB 6'5, 217 SO 10 100 3 10 5.6 80.00% 1 (0)

Unlike McCafferey, Love is not featured in the passing game at all which allows Cal to key on him more than the multidimensional NFL RB for the Panthers.

Speaking of the passing game... It is mediocre, mostly it depends on having Love as a run threat to be in anyway effective. See the Furd/OSU game:

Defense

Furd Defense Overall

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Success Rate 45.10% 101 40.30%
IsoPPP 1.05 18 1.17
Avg. FP 24.4 2 29.5
Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.1 41 4.41

Furd Defense Detail

Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Category Avg. Rk Nat'l Avg.
Rushing S&P+ 99.5 72 100
Rushing Success Rate 47.10% 104 42.40%
Rushing IsoPPP 0.83 31 0.91
Adj. Line Yards 94.3 94 100
Opportunity Rate 43.90% 118 38.90%
Power Success Rate 64.10% 42 68.20%
Stuff Rate 14.80% 118 19.10%
Passing S&P+ 101.2 62 100
Passing Success Rate 42.90% 92 40.30%
Passing IsoPPP 1.32 33 1.47
Adj. Sack Rate 112.8 44 100

Furd isn’t effective in defending the efficient play in the air on the ground. Though not at the level that Cal is, Furd’s weakness also lies in this five factor variable. Considering this and the good defense against the big play, the Big Game is going to be a low possession affair where each drive will matter. Furd’s D benefits from the 2nd best FP in FBS. This is the byproduct of the Furd offense being able to get at least a few first downs and win the field position battle by pinning the opponent on the opponent’s 25 yard line avg. It also helps that they have the 2nd best special teams in FBS.

Furd HAVOC

Team Rk Nat'l Average
Team Rk Nat'l Average
Std. Downs Run Rate 60.10% 61
Pass. Downs Run Rate 28.10% 117
Overall Havoc Rate 14.30% 93
DL Havoc Rate 3.10% 100
LB Havoc Rate 3.80% 69
DB Havoc Rate 5.20% 93
PD to INC 31.00% 97

Two words: Harrison Phillips, DT for the Furd. Statistically speaking he is their designated game wracker. With 15 run stuffs, 4.5 sacks, and 6.5 TFLs. Coach Greatwood and Baldwin will be keen to gameplan around them.

One encouraging sign is the fact that the Furd defense is not good at producing HAVOC plays. Teams that have had repeat defensive success against Cal have been HAVOC strong teams, which gives Cal a good chance of being able to at least stay on the field and move the chains.

Final Thoughts

All things considered, this game will play out on the field and not on a spreadsheet. Especially a rivalry game like the Big Game there is so much more unknowns that will factor into the outcome of the game. Yet, despite the 23% odds S&P+ gives us, there is a lot of variance to this number, considering the match-ups presented in the data and the BYE week Cal had there is a lot of uncertainty coming into this game than not.

This will be a game of long methodical possessions, the multidimensional Laird against the run offense monster that is Love. The defenses will key on both and whomever is able to overcome the focus and carry the team on the back will give their team the Axe.