Stats & Info: Bryce Petty

Top stats to know: Saturday's late games

December, 7, 2014
The three teams playing late Saturday night with hope of making the College Football Playoff didn’t make the selection committee’s job any easier. No. 4 Florida State won the ACC Championship Game, No. 5 Ohio State rolled to victory in the Big Ten Championship Game, and No. 6 Baylor held off No. 9 Kansas State in a Big 12 game. Here are the top stats to know from each game.

Florida State outlasts Georgia TechNo. 11 Georgia Tech became the first team this season to score a touchdown on its first three possessions against Florida State. With their triple-option offense, the Yellow Jackets appeared capable of wearing down the Seminoles after crafting three scoring drives of 10 or more plays. Florida State had allowed five such drives entering the game.

A key for Georgia Tech was rushing outside the tackles. Through three quarters, the Yellow Jackets averaged 7.97 yards a carry outside the tackles and gashed the Seminoles for 239 yards and three touchdowns on 30 rushes. In the fourth quarter, though, Georgia Tech had three rushes outside the tackles for five yards. Overall, Georgia Tech had 54 rushes for 322 yards through three quarters and five rushes for nine yards in the fourth.

Florida State, conversely, did its damage inside the tackles. Dalvin Cook, who set career highs in carries (31) and rushing yards (177) for the second week in a row, got 149 of his rush yards inside the tackles. The Seminoles averaged 49.8 yards per game inside the tackles coming into the game -- third worst among Power 5 teams.

As usual, Jameis Winston predominantly targeted Rashad Greene and Nick O’Leary. Those two combined to catch all three of the sophomore quarterback’s touchdown passes. Winston averaged 14.7 yards per attempt when targeting them and 5.9 yards when targeting anyone else. He had his first game without an interception since Oct. 11 at Syracuse.

Greene finished the game with seven receptions for 123 yards. With 3,771 career receiving yards, he broke the ACC record of Duke’s Conner Vernon (3,749, 2009-12).

Ohio State dominates Wisconsin
The Buckeyes' shutout victory over Wisconsin was not only the biggest shutout in a Power 5 conference championship game but also the only shutout in such a contest.

Cardale Jones, Ohio State’s third-string quarterback, did a first-rate job in leading the Buckeyes to a dominant win over Wisconsin. On throws of 10 or more yards, Jones completed five of seven passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. His counterpart, Joel Stave, was 3-of-14 with two interceptions on passes of 10 or more yards.

Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon gained 76 yards on 26 rushes. His longest rush was 13 yards; for the first time this season, he didn’t have a rush of at least 20 yards. Gordon raised his season total to 2,336 rushing yards, but he remained fourth on the single-season rushing list. He is six yards behind USC’s Marcus Allen, who gained 2,342 yards in 1981.

Gordon had his record for rushing yards in a Big Ten Championship game broken by Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for 220 yards. Gordon rushed for 216 in 2012.

Baylor takes care of businessThe Bears seemed to have an answer for Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters. On designed runs inside the tackles, Baylor held Waters to 1.5 yards per rush, compared with his 6.2-yard average entering the game. Waters threw an interception in the fourth quarter, which effectively ended the Wildcats’ hopes. It was his third interception in his past four games, after he threw three in the Wildcats’ first eight games.

The Wildcats’ Tyler Lockett caught his 27th career touchdown pass and broke the school record held by his father, Kevin.

Baylor's Bryce Petty excelled when given time Saturday and completed a season-high 31 passes when not under duress. He completed 91.2 percent of his passes for 376 yards when not under duress.

The loss continued Kansas State coach Bill Snyder’s winless run against teams in the top 10 of The Associated Press poll. Snyder is 0-11 against AP Top 10 teams.

First to 70: Baylor vs West Virginia

October, 17, 2014

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Bryce Petty (14) leads the No. 4 Baylor Bears into what could be a high-scoring matchup with the West Virginia Mountaineers
Flashback #1: Sept. 29, 2012: The West Virginia Mountaineers, powered by 656 passing yards and eight passing touchdowns, defeated the Baylor Bears 70-63. That game tied the FBS records for combined touchdowns (19) and touchdown passes (13) by two FBS opponents and came three points shy of tying the FBS record for combined points in a game, set by Navy and North Texas in 2007.

Flashback #2: Oct. 5, 2013: Baylor, fueled by 476 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns, defeated West Virginia 73-42. The Bears (872 yards) smashed the Big 12 record for yards in a game set by West Virginia in their previous matchup.

When the Bears and Mountaineers meet on Saturday – expect offense.

Baylor scores 70 in its sleep

Including its 73-42 win against West Virginia last season, Baylor has scored at least 70 points in five games since the start of last season. No other FBS team has reached that mark more than once during that time.

This season, the Bears have continued their quick-strike offensive success of seasons past. They have scored an FBS-high 24 touchdowns on drives of 2 minutes or less, including six such touchdowns against a previously formidable TCU defense. Since the start of last season, the Bears have 16 more 2-minute touchdown drives and 17 more 1-minute touchdowns drives than any other FBS team.

The quick touchdown drives are often the result of Baylor’s big plays. The Bears have led the FBS in 30-yard touchdowns in each of the previous three seasons, and they again lead the nation with 15 in 2014. It is one of the reasons Baylor has 72 touchdown drives of three plays or fewer since the start of the 2011 season, 15 more than any other FBS team in the last four seasons.

Many of these touchdowns have come on deep passes from Bryce Petty, who leads the FBS with 11 touchdowns on passes thrown 20 yards or longer. Including six such touchdowns against TCU, Petty has 30 touchdowns and one interception on such throws in his career.

West Virginia’s offense has potential to explode

Like Baylor, West Virginia is one of the fastest teams in the country. The Mountaineers are averaging 20.5 seconds per play (7th in the FBS), and only Baylor is averaging more plays per game.

The Mountaineers rely on quick, short passes that allow their receivers to run after the catch. They lead the Big 12 and rank second among Power Five offenses in yards after the catch per game (212.5).

Clint Trickett, who has improved his Total QBR by 15.2 points this season, leads the West Virginia passing attack. Trickett has faced two ranked opponents this season – Alabama and Oklahoma - and exceeded 350 pass yards against both. No other quarterback has reached that threshold against either team.

Like with Baylor, big plays are a big part of West Virginia’s passing offense. Trickett leads the Big 12 and is tied for seventh in the FBS with 31 completions of 20 yards or more. His primary target, Kevin White, has 14 receptions of this distance, tied for second-most in the FBS.

White leads the FBS in receiving yards per game (148.0) and has the longest active streak of 100-yard receiving games in the nation (6).

Last week, Baylor allowed its most points (58) since allowing 70 points at West Virginia in 2012. Another poor defensive performance by the Bears could result in another high-scoring, exciting game in Morgantown.

First team to 70, wins!

Petty will be challenged to stay among best

August, 8, 2014

Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesBryce Petty helped lead Baylor last year to the most PPG (52.4) since Houston averaged 53.5 in 1989.
Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley and Bryce Petty are all being talked about as potential first-round NFL draft picks, while Braxton Miller and Everett Golson have the chance to solidify their places in their respective school’s storied histories.

In preparation for the 2014 season, and in conjunction with interviews conducted by ESPN CFB analyst Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN Stats & Info will take a deeper look at the top QBs entering the fall. Today we examine Baylor's Bryce Petty.

A Look Back at 2013
In his first season as Baylor’s starting quarterback, Petty led the Bears to a school-record 11 wins, their first Big 12 Championship and first outright league championship since they won the 1980 Southwest Conference title.

Petty was the central piece in the Bears’ hurry-up offense, which averaged 52.4 points per game last season, the most since Houston averaged 53.5 in 1989.

Petty recorded stats comparable to those of fellow Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III in his Heisman Trophy-winning season.

One thing that set Griffin apart from his competitors in 2011 was his success with the deep ball. RG III led AQ quarterbacks in touchdowns on passes thrown 20 yards or longer (21) with two interceptions. Petty also led AQ quarterbacks on such passes in 2013 (18) with just one interception.

With such high numbers, it’s not surprising that Petty threw for at least 200 yards and two touchdowns in every game last season. No other quarterback from a Power Five conference has accomplished that feat in at least 10 seasons.

A Look Ahead to 2014
The Bears’ one regular-season loss in 2013 produces a big question about their chances this season.

Through its first seven games, Baylor was on pace to break FBS records for points (56.0) and yards (624.9) per game, which were set by Army in 1944 and Houston in 1989, respectively.

However, the Bears did not play one team ranked in the top 25 in defensive efficiency in those games. Oklahoma finished the season 21st in defensive efficiency, sacked Petty three times (including a safety) and held him to 50 percent passing. But the Bears still managed a 41-12 win over the Sooners in Baylor’s eighth game.

Baylor faced an even tougher test Nov. 23 in Stillwater against Oklahoma State, which finished the season fourth in defensive efficiency and served Petty and the Bears their only loss, 49-17, during the regular season.

But in 2014, Baylor will face four top 25 defenses, according to ESPN’s Efficiency Rankings: Oklahoma (4), TCU (5), Oklahoma State (15) and Texas (22).

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), Baylor has the sixth-best chance of all FBS teams to go undefeated, at 5.3 percent, and the second-best chance in the Big 12 (Oklahoma has a 6.2 percent chance).

If Petty can lead Baylor to a second consecutive Big 12 title, he could end up in the Heisman race as well as the inaugural College Football Playoff. It will likely come down to Week 11 when Baylor faces Oklahoma in Norman.

Ohio State's Braxton Miller back for 2014

August, 5, 2014
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesBraxton Miller could become Ohio State's winningest quarterback since 1960.
The 2014 college football season has the potential to showcase one of the most talented groups of quarterbacks in recent memory. Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley and Bryce Petty are all being talked about as potential first-round NFL draft picks, while Braxton Miller and Everett Golson have the chance to solidify their place in their respective school’s storied histories.

In preparation for the 2014 season and in conjunction with interviews conducted by ESPN CFB analyst Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN Stats & Info will take a deeper look at the top QBs entering the fall. Today, we take a look at Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.

A look back at 2013
Braxton Miller had an outstanding junior season, becoming the first player in Big Ten history (since 1990 when the award was first given) to win the Offensive Player of the Year award in consecutive seasons. He was the only Power Five conference quarterback to throw for at least 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards last year. If Miller can accomplish that feat again, he will join Colin Kaepernick and become the second FBS quarterback in the past 10 years to reach those thresholds in three seasons.

Miller has rushed for at least 100 yards in 14 games since the start of 2011, second most among FBS quarterbacks. He had five such games last season, which tied for fourth among FBS quarterbacks. Miller has always been a prolific rusher, but he’s also improved as a passer every year at Ohio State. Miller’s completion percentage, passing yards and touchdowns have increased every season.

He was more willing to operate from the pocket last year. He attempted 85 percent of his passes from the pocket, nearly 20 percentage points higher than in 2012. His 19 touchdown passes from inside the pocket were tied for the most in the Big Ten with Indiana’s Nate Sudfeld and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg.

A look ahead to 2014
With another 11-win season, Miller will pass Art Schlichter for the most wins (36) on record at Ohio State (the school first kept such records in 1960). Assuming Miller stays healthy, he has a good chance of passing Schlichter.

According to the ESPN Football Power Index, Ohio State has the best chance (41 percent) of winning the Big Ten, nearly 20 percentage points better than Wisconsin, and is projected for between 10 and 11 wins heading into bowl season. The Buckeyes have won 24 consecutive regular-season games, four shy of tying the Big Ten conference record.

The Buckeyes have big shoes to fill. They must replace six of 11 starters on offense, including league-leading rusher Carlos Hyde and four starters from an offensive line that combined for 135 starts.

Miller might have to shoulder more of the load. In the past, he has stepped up when his team needed him. Miller enters 2014 with six career game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, including three last season. The six career game-winning drives are the most among returning FBS quarterbacks and five more than any other returning quarterback in the Big Ten.

One area in which Miller needs to get better is on third down. He ranked in the bottom third of the FBS in Total QBR (47.1) and completion percentage (50.9) on third down. Only Michigan’s Devin Gardner and Purdue’s Danny Etling were sacked more on third down than Miller (12) among Big Ten quarterbacks. Only two of the past 10 national championship quarterbacks have had a third-down QBR less than 70 in the season they won the title.

Top stats to know: Baylor vs. UCF

December, 31, 2013
PM ET's Football Power Index (which rates the relative strength of teams) ranks Baylor
well ahead of UCF. Full FPI analysis can be found here
One of the neat things about the Baylor-UCF matchup in tonight’s Fiesta Bowl (8:30 pm ET) is that it pits two teams who wouldn’t have been thought to be in this game when the season began.

What other stats are of note for this contest? Here’s a look:

1-- Baylor’s 11 wins and 639 points are its most ever. Its eight conference wins were its most since 1980.

Baylor looked like it was on its way to setting FBS records for scoring and offense, averaging 61 points per game in its first nine games, but slowed down the last few games of the season and averaged only 29 per game in its last three.

With a win, it will be the first time since 1923 that Baylor finished a season with fewer than two losses (5-1-2 that year).

2-- UCF has won eight straight games, but struggled down the stretch to get there. The Knights managed just 296 total yards in a three-point win over lowly South Florida, then squeaked by 5-7 SMU by scoring just 17 points. Both wins required second half comebacks.

That said, UCF is a three-point loss to South Carolina away from being 12-0 this season, and the Knights led 10-0 in that game back on Sept. 28.

UCF has never beaten a team from the current Big 12 Conference, going 0-5.

The program is looking for its first 12-win season in school history.

3—- The Bears score and score quickly. Baylor has scored 57 touchdowns on drives that lasted 2 minute or less, the most by any team in the past 10 seasons and nine more than any other FBS team in 2013.

Baylor’s offense has received most of the attention, but its defense also ranks fifth in ESPN’s Defensive Efficiency Ratings after ranking 74th last season. The Bears’ increase in the ratings is the largest for any team this season.

Quarterback Bryce Petty finished seventh in the Heisman voting, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and throwing only two interceptions in 356 attempts. He currently ranks sixth in the nation in Total QBR.

4-- UCF has had six second-half comebacks this season, tied for the most in the FBS with Northern Illinois.
In three of UCF’s comeback wins, the Knights had a 10 percent or lower chance of winning.

Only San Diego State had more such wins (4) this season.

Quarterback Blake Bortles had the second-highest QBR when trailing in the second half or overtime this season, bettered only by Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater.

5-— Stats of the Day: This marks the first time since the 2007 Orange Bowl (2006 season) that both opponents are making their first ever appearance in a BCS bowl (Louisville beat Wake Forest that year).

This matchup also features two teams that weren’t ranked in the Preseason AP Poll. Only two other teams advanced to BCS bowl games this season without being ranked in the preseason poll – Michigan State and Auburn.

Chelf, Cowboys defense dominate Baylor

November, 24, 2013

Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesClint Chelf and the Oklahoma State defense were too much for Baylor Saturday

It was a decidedly un-Baylor-like performance where the Bears got shut down by Oklahoma State, managing just three points through the first three quarters of the game. Baylor didn’t score a touchdown until there was 14:04 left in the fourth quarter, and by then the Bears were trailing 35-3.

Oklahoma State’s 32-point win is the third-largest win against a BCS top-four team. The last time a BCS top-four team lost by a margin that wide was 2008, when Oklahoma blew out No. 2 Texas Tech by 44.

Baylor came into the game averaging an FBS-best 61.2 points per game but was held to 17 points, Baylor’s fewest points in a game since December 29, 2010 against Illinois in the Texas Bowl. Baylor has lost 37 straight road games against AP-ranked opponents, with its last road win against an AP-ranked opponent coming in 1991.

Clint Chelf threw for a career-high 370 yards, his second career 300 yard game. His other one? It came against Baylor last year.

How was he so successful? He threw the deep ball well.

Chelf had nine completions on passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield Saturday, the most such completions in a game for a Big 12 quarterback this season. Chelf had twice as many completions, yards and touchdowns as Bryce Petty on such throws.

Petty entered the game as the Big 12-leader in completions, yards and touchdowns on passes thrown 15 yards or more downfield.

Chelf threw for all three of his touchdowns against five or more pass rushers Saturday, tied for the most touchdowns against the blitz by a Big 12 quarterback in a game this season.

Baylor entered Saturday as one of 16 teams without a turnover in the red zone. Against Oklahoma State, the Bears had two turnovers and didn’t score a touchdown in the red zone for the first time since Sept. 18, 2010 at TCU.

Baylor's offense was forced into four three-and-outs Saturday, its most three-and-outs in a game since Sept. 2, 2011 against TCU. The Bears entered the game with an FBS-low seven three-and-outs for the season.

Stats to know: Baylor & Oregon are amazing

November, 7, 2013

Icon SMIMarcus Mariota and Bryce Petty have racked up points and stats all season.
Oregon and Baylor will each try to remain undefeated on Thursday night. Below are 15 need-to-know stats in preparation for their games.

1-- Baylor is averaging an FBS-high 63.9 points and 718.4 yards per game. The Bears are on pace to break the FBS records for points (56.0) and yards (624.9) per game that were set by Army in 1944 and Houston in 1989, respectively

2-- Oregon has scored at least 42 points in each of its first eight games this season. The Ducks are the fourth team in the last 100 years to start a season with at least 42 points in eight straight games.

3-- Baylor has scored 22 touchdowns in drives lasting one minute or less, eight more than any other FBS team this season. In the last 10 seasons, there have only been six teams that have scored more than 22 touchdowns in one minute or less in an entire season.
4-- Oregon has an FBS-high 59 offensive touchdowns, including 41 in two minutes or less. The Ducks’ 41 touchdown drives in two minutes or less is four fewer than all of last season when they led the FBS with 45 such touchdowns.

5-- Baylor is averaging more points in the first half (42.1) than 115 FBS teams average for a game. In the first half, the Bears average a FBS-low 15.9 seconds per play and their average touchdown drive lasts 1 minute, 19 seconds.

6-- Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has thrown an FBS-high 225 pass attempts without an interception this season. Dating back to last season, Mariota has thrown a Pac-12-record 293 passes without an interception.

7-- Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is averaging 13.9 yards per pass attempt, on pace to be the highest rate for a qualified quarterback in the last 10 seasons. The deep ball has been key for Petty. He has 19 completions and 10 touchdowns (both the most of anyone in an automatic-qualifier conference) on passes thrown 25 yards or longer.

8-- Oregon averages an AQ-high 7.5 yards per rush on zone-read plays, including 5.2 yards before first contact. On such plays, Mariota is averaging 13.7 yards per rush and has six touchdowns.

9--Petty leads the FBS with a 95.3 opponent-adjusted QBR. The leader in opponent-adjusted QBR in three of the last six seasons went on to win the Heisman, including Johnny Manziel last year.

10-- Oregon is the only team in the FBS that ranks in the top five in ESPN’s new offensive and defensive efficiency. The Ducks have ranked in the top five in offensive efficiency each of the last three seasons.

11-- Baylor is on pace to have the highest offensive efficiency in the last 10 years. Offensive efficiency measures an offense’s contributions to its team’s opponent-adjusted scoring margin per game.

Through seven games, Baylor’s offense is adding about seven more expected points towards its net scoring margin, more than any other offense has for an entire season since 2004 (as far back as our data goes).

12-- Oregon quarterback Mariota has posted a Total QBR of 90 or higher in six of his eight games, tied with Petty for the most such games in the FBS.

13-- Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk is averaging 9.1 yards per rush, second in the FBS behind Mariota. Seastrunk has made it at least five yards past the line of scrimmage before first contact on 39 percent of his rushes, the highest percentage among AQ running backs with at least 75 carries.

14-- Oregon has forced 23 turnovers and scored 100 points off of its opponents’ turnovers this season. Since the start of last season, Oregon leads the FBS with 63 takeaways and ranks second with 288 points off turnovers.

15-- Baylor has had an average in-game win probability of 86 percent across all of its plays this season, best in the FBS. Oregon ranks third with an 83 percent average in-game win probability.

Better Baylor QB: Bryce Petty or RG III?

October, 16, 2013
USA TODAY SportsBryce Petty (left) is hoping to rival the success of former Baylor QB Robert Griffin III (right).
Robert Griffin III put Baylor on the map in 2011, accounting for 47 touchdowns and 4,992 yards en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. Griffin finished the 2011 campaign with an opponent-adjusted QBR of 83.2, fourth-best in the FBS that season.

Bryce Petty, in his first season as Baylor’s starting quarterback, has led Baylor to a 5-0 record and a No. 12 ranking in the AP poll. He has posted the second-highest opponent-adjusted QBR (95.1) in the nation. Since the start of the 2004 season, seven quarterbacks have finished with an opponent-adjusted QBR of at least 90 -- three went on to be No. 1 overall picks (Sam Bradford, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck) and one is last season’s Heisman Trophy winner -- Johnny Manziel.

Petty has put up numbers after four games that are comparable to Griffin’s. Petty has posted a Total QBR of at least 90 in four games this season, which already gives him more such games than Griffin had in 13 starts during his Heisman year.

Petty leads all FBS quarterbacks in pass yards per attempt (14.9), as Griffin did in 2011. They also have nearly identical numbers when it comes to completion percentage and pass yards per game.

A key to Griffin’s success in his Heisman season was his downfield passing. On passes thrown 15 yards or longer, Griffin led all AQ quarterbacks in 2011 with 23 touchdowns and had the third-highest completion percentage (minimum 20 attempts). In a smaller sample size this season, Petty is completing a higher percentage of such throws than Griffin and is averaging 28.4 yards per attempt, the highest among all AQ quarterbacks (minimum 10 attempts).

Petty has also performed better than Griffin did on third down. Petty leads the FBS in yards per attempt (17.0) while completing 70 percent of his passes on third down. Petty has converted 55 percent of his third-down pass plays (pass attempts + sacks) into a first down, the sixth-best rate among FBS quarterbacks.

Griffin completed 68 percent of his third-down passes and averaged 9.8 yards per attempt, both of which ranked in the top four of the FBS. Yet he converted on only 38 percent of his third-down pass plays, partially because he was sacked on nine third downs. Petty was sacked on third down for the first time last week against Kansas State.

Before anointing Petty the next RG III, there are two things to keep in mind:

1. Baylor’s first five games have been against FCS Wofford, Buffalo (85th-ranked pass defense), UL-Monroe (68th-ranked pass defense), West Virginia (58th-ranked pass defense) and Kansas State (62nd-ranked pass defense). Petty will have opportunities against better defenses because Baylor plays three of its last seven games against teams with a top-40 pass defense.

2. Petty is not utilized as much in the running game, averaging 44.8 fewer rush yards per game and 9.2 fewer rush attempts than Griffin did. Petty does have four rushing touchdowns, which puts him on pace to equal Griffin’s 10 touchdowns in 2011.

Midseason awards: Baylor leads the way

October, 15, 2013
Best QB performance of the season: Bryce Petty vs. Buffalo – Sept. 7, 2013

Petty put up video game numbers against Buffalo, going 13-of-16 for 336 yards with two touchdowns. He threw no interceptions, was not sacked, and did not fumble. He also added a five-yard touchdown run for good measure. Add in the fact that Buffalo’s QBR allowed this season in all other games against FBS schools is 26.7, and Petty’s opponent-adjusted QBR for the game was 99.5 -- the best for any quarterback in a single game this season.

Most dominant performance of the season: Baylor vs. UL-Monroe – Sept. 21, 2013

The ESPN Stats & Information win probability model calculates the chance each team has to win at the start of every play. Taking the average win probability across all plays can give a good idea on how dominant the team was in the game. By this measure Baylor had the most dominant performance of the season against an FBS team. Its average win probability per play against UL-Monroe was 93.5 percent. By the end of the first 13 minutes, Baylor led 35-0 and had a 98 percent chance to win. It never looked back from there. Four of Baylor’s five wins have come with an average in-game win probability of 90 percent or higher.

Best offensive performance of the season: Baylor vs. West Virginia – Oct. 5, 2013

If the top quarterback game and the most dominant game weren’t enough, Baylor also put up the best offensive performance of the season in an entirely different game. Baylor put up 73 points against an otherwise above average defense in West Virginia. The Bears won the game by 31 points, and their rush EPA (expected points added) of +30 tells us that margin was almost entirely covered by Baylor’s ground attack. Overall Baylor’s offensive EPA in the game was +41. Adjusting for West Virginia’s above average defense, the Bears’ opponent-adjusted offensive EPA was +49 -- the highest for any offense in a single game this season.

Game changing play of the season: Ole Miss at Vanderbilt – Aug. 29, 2013

On the opening Thursday night of college football, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt gave us one of the most memorable games of the season. After surrendering the lead just seven seconds earlier, Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott rushed for a 75-yard touchdown to put the Rebels back ahead by three with 1:07 left in the fourth quarter. According to Stats & Info’s win probability model, this play took the Rebels’ chance of winning from 13 percent to 88 percent -- the largest one-play swing for any BCS-AQ school all season. After several wild swings in the fourth quarter, this play put Ole Miss ahead for good.

Mariota, Kelly, McCoy among best of week

October, 15, 2013
Week 7 featured upsets and surprises as seven ranked teams lost on Saturday, with four of those losses at the hands of unranked opponents.

With the help of ESPN’s new college football metrics (see explanations here), ESPN Stats & Information will look back at some of these upsets and look ahead to next weekend’s matchup between Florida State and Clemson.

Best individual performances

Marcus Mariota had a 98.3 opponent-adjusted Total QBR in Oregon’s 45-24 win at Washington. Mariota was responsible for 454 total yards and four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter. He leads the nation in opponent-adjusted Total QBR (97.0) this season and has posted an opponent-adjusted Total QBR of 98 or higher in three of six games.

Taylor Kelly posted a career-high 98.1 opponent-adjusted Total QBR in Arizona State’s 54-13 win against Colorado. Seven of Kelly’s nine completions gained at least 15 yards as he averaged a career-high 25.9 yards per completion.

Case McCoy had a 90.3 opponent-adjusted Total QBR in Texas’s 36-20 win against Oklahoma, his highest in a qualified game in his career (a player must have at least 20 action plays in order for it to be a qualified game).

McCoy completed 13-of-19 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the first three quarters.

Other interesting Total QBRs

Zach Mettenberger’s QBR (46.7 Total QBR): Mettenberger completed 9-of-17 passes for 152 yards against Florida, including four completions of at least 20 yards. Mettenberger finished with a 46.7 Total QBR.

But that measure doesn't tell the whole story.

When accounting for the defense that he faced, Mettenberger's opponent-adjusted Total QBR jumped to 88.9, ninth-best in Week 7.

Entering the game, the Gators had allowed the lowest Total QBR (13.0) of any defense, and their opponents had completed 46 percent of their passes. Mettenberger's performance was significantly better than those who faced the Gators earlier this season.

Bryce Petty’s QBR (69.0 Total QBR): Petty had the highest pass efficiency rating (237.1) of Week 7 in Baylor’s win against Kansas State, but he ranked 31st in Total QBR.


Petty had seven dropbacks on third down, but failed to convert a first down on any of those dropbacks. It is important to note that Petty had two completions for 19 yards on third down, but neither of those completions resulted in a first down, which is accounted for in Total QBR.

For a full list of Total QBR leaders for the season and Week 7, click here.

Best team performances

Offense –- Oregon: The Ducks gained 631 yards and added 24.3 expected points on offense in their 45-24 win against No. 16 Washington. Entering the game, the Huskies had allowed 286.8 yards per game, and no opponent's offense had contributed more than five expected points to their team's net scoring margin. In the last two seasons, Oregon’s offense has a +49.4 offensive EPA against the Huskies and the Ducks have won by a combined 52 points in those games.

Defense –- Texas: The Longhorns’ defense added 17 expected points toward its scoring margin against Oklahoma by forcing turnovers, controlling field position and limiting the Sooners to one offensive touchdown.

It was the Longhorns’ highest defensive EPA in a game against a BCS-AQ team since they added 24.4 against California in the 2011 Holiday Bowl. Texas entered the game with the second-worst defensive EPA (-13.78) in the Big 12 behind Iowa State (-13.8).

Special teams –- Iowa State: The Cyclones contributed 16.3 expected points on special teams in their 42-35 loss at Texas Tech, the most by a team in a game this season.

That means that if Iowa State’s special teams unit had an average game, the Cyclones would have lost by about 23 points. In addition to a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown in the first quarter, Iowa State began its drives 11.2 yards closer to the goal line than Texas Tech did.

Looking ahead to Week 8

Florida State travels to Clemson (8 PM ET, ABC) in a top-5 matchup with conference and national title implications.

The game features two of the top quarterbacks in the nation; Florida State’s Jameis Winston ranks fourth in opponent-adjusted Total QBR (91.3) this season, and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd finished with the fourth-highest opponent-adjusted Total QBR (81.8) last season.

A major component of success for each quarterback has been the deep ball. Winston is completing 68.3 percent of his passes thrown 15 yards or longer, best among BCS AQ quarterbacks (min. 15 attempts), and Boyd leads all AQ quarterbacks with 10 touchdowns on passes of that distance.

Florida State and Clemson both rank in the Top 10 in defensive EPA on passing plays, so it will be a battle of strengths in Death Valley on Saturday.

What makes Baylor/Oregon offenses great?

October, 9, 2013

Baylor and Oregon both operate at an astounding pace.
Baylor and Oregon are putting up numbers at a historic rate, averaging 780 and 630 yards of total offense, respectively. The two schools are on pace to have the two most prolific total offenses ever in the FBS.

The current record belongs to the 1989 Houston Cougars, who were led by Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware and averaged 625 yards per game.

Quick-strike attacks
Perhaps the most impressive facet of each offense is how quickly each times its scores.

Baylor’s average touchdown drive is 1:18, the fastest in the FBS, while Oregon is the fifth fastest at 1:33. The Bears have 28 touchdown drives that lasted less than two minutes, second to Oregon’s 31. No other FBS team this season has more than 17 such drives.

Baylor and Oregon score quickly because they get a lot of big plays and they play fast. Baylor is averaging an FBS-high 10.8 plays per game that gain 20 yards or more, Oregon is second with 9.6 such plays.

The Ducks average one play per every 19.7 seconds, fifth fastest in the FBS, and the Bears are tied for the seventh-fastest pace at 20.1 seconds per play. The average FBS team runs a play every 24.9 seconds.

The running game
The Ducks and Bears have excellent running games. They both run on roughly 60 percent of their plays, which is 8 percentage points higher than the FBS average. The Bears average the second-most rushing yards per game (347.3) and the Ducks rank third (335.8).

Baylor’s running game is led by Lache Seastrunk, who is an Oregon transfer. He is averaging 11.1 yards per rush, the highest average for any FBS player with at least 30 carries.

Oregon’s running game features one of the most potent zone-read attacks, led by running back De’Anthony Thomas and quarterback Marcus Mariota. On zone-read plays, Thomas and Mariota have combined to average 10.6 yards per rush and have six touchdowns.

Play-action the key for both
Both quarterbacks have flourished in play-action passing. Mariota and Baylor’s Bryce Petty have combined to throw 13 touchdowns and one interception after a play fake.

Petty and Mariota have the two highest opponent-adjusted QBRs this season at 97.7 and 96.8, respectively.

In the past 10 seasons, the highest opponent-adjusted QBR ever posted by a quarterback over a full season was 94.5 by Andrew Luck in 2010.

Petty averages an FBS-high 14.7 yards per pass attempt. He has eight touchdowns on passes thrown 20 yards or longer, tied with Stanford’s Kevin Hogan for the most among AQ quarterbacks.

He is third in completion percentage (61.9 percent) on such throws behind Vanderbilt’s Austyn Carta-Samuels (64.7) and Florida State's Jameis Winston (64.5).

Mariota can also throw the deep ball. He has completed a Pac-12 high of 56 percent of his passes thrown 20 yards or longer this season. He has completed at least half of such throws in all but one game (California).

Mariota more heavily relies on his receivers to make plays. He has accrued 61 percent of his pass yards after the catch, 12 percentage points higher than Petty, who is right on the AQ average.

So which offense is better?
These are the two best offenses in college football right now, but which one rates better?

The advanced metric expected points added (EPA) allows us to make that assessment. This stat, also known as offensive or defensive efficiency when looked at on a per-game basis, goes beyond box score data. It looks at every play the offense is on the field to determine exactly how good the unit is in terms of moving the ball, converting drives into actual points and avoiding turnovers.

In terms of offensive efficiency without taking into account competition, Baylor’s offense is first at +36.3 EPA per game, well ahead of Oregon’s +24.2.

Once you adjust for the quality of defenses they’ve faced, it narrows the gap: +37.4 for Baylor, +29.4 for Oregon – Nos. 1 and 2 in the FBS.

While both offenses have been prolific thus far, this shows that Baylor's offense has contributed eight more points per game to the scoring margin than Oregon's, even after taking into account the tougher slate of defenses Oregon has faced.

The Bears have the edge at the moment. Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Special teams carry the day for Stanford

October, 8, 2013

Stephen Lam/Getty ImagesTy Montgomery returning the opening kickoff 99 yards for a score vs Washington Saturday.
Week 6 featured several exciting games. Georgia needed overtime and a fumble in the end zone to beat Tennessee, Ohio State came back from a 10-point second-half deficit to defeat Northwestern, and Jameis Winston continued his brilliance in his first game against a ranked opponent.

With the help of ESPN’s new college football metrics (see explanations here), ESPN Stats & Information looks back on Week 6 and ahead to this weekend’s matchup between Oregon and Washington.

We first look at how Stanford's special teams were the difference in its three-point win against Washington.

The Cardinal posted a +15.3 special teams EPA (expected points added is the contribution of each unit to team’s net points in a game) Saturday, the highest for any team in a game this season.

They returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and made their only field goal attempt. Additionally, Ben Rhyne punted six times for a career-high net average of 42 yards.

As a result, the Huskies’ average drive start was their own-23 yardline, almost 15 yards farther than the Cardinal’s average drive start. It was Washington’s worst starting field position differential of the season.

With a -2 and a -10.2 offensive and defensive EPA, respectively, Stanford would have lost to Washington by about 12 points if the Cardinal had an “average” special teams unit.

Best Individual Performances
Bryce Petty (97.1 Total QBR) has now posted a Total QBR of at least 90 in each of Baylor's first four games. Petty threw for 342 yards in the first half against West Virginia, as Baylor scored an FBS-high 56 points before halftime for the second time this season.

AJ McCarron (97.0 Total QBR) matched his career high with four touchdowns against Georgia State, all coming in the first half. McCarron only had one incompletion on 16 passes and led the Crimson Tide to touchdowns on all five of the drives that he quarterbacked.

Derek Carr (97.0 Total QBR) threw for 390 yards in the first half against Idaho, the most passing yards in a half by an FBS quarterback during the last two seasons. Carr threw five touchdowns, extending his FBS-leading streak of 25 games with a touchdown pass.

Connor Shaw (96.2 Total QBR) posted a Total QBR of at least 90 for the first time this season, despite playing with a shoulder injury that knocked him out of the UCF game the previous week. Shaw completed 17-of-20 (85 percent) passes against Kentucky, his third-highest completion percentage in 25 career starts.

For a full list of Total QBR leaders for the season and Week 6, click here.

Best Team Performances
Offense: Baylor. In a 73-42 rout of West Virginia, the Bears added 40.6 expected points on offense, which means if Baylor had an average offense, it would have actually lost by almost 10 points.

The Bears’ output was the most offensive expected points added in a single game against any FBS opponent this season. Baylor now holds the top two offensive EPA performance against an FBS opponent this season.

Defense: Texas Tech. The Red Raiders defense added 31.3 expected points on defense in a 38-point victory over Kansas. Texas Tech forced four fumbles (three lost), sacked the Jayhawks four times and held them to 3-for-16 on third downs.

Looking ahead to Week 7
Oregon is traveling north to face Washington. In addition to hosting the Ducks, the Huskies will also host College GameDay.

Oregon, primarily known for its offense, has added the most expected points on defense among FBS schools (99.7). Opposing quarterbacks have a Total QBR of 23.3 against the Ducks this season, sixth lowest in the FBS.

Washington quarterback Keith Price has a Total QBR of 73.5 this season, up from 40.9 in 2012. Price will look to continue his improvement against an Oregon team that held him to a career-worst 10.1 Total QBR last season.

In the next week, ESPN Stats & Information will be releasing two new team ratings: the Championship Drive Rating and the Football Power Index (FPI). You will find an explanation of these ratings here.

The Championship Drive Rating will attempt to answer the question, “which teams deserve to be in the playoff based on what they have accomplished this season?” by focusing more on their résumé than who would win head-to-head.

The Football Power Index looks to answer the question, “if two teams were to meet at a neutral site, who has the advantage?” This metric is based on all facets of the team and adjusting it for the strength of its opponents.

Elite QBs living up to top billing

October, 6, 2013

AP Photo/Rod AydelotteBaylor’s Bryce Petty is one of many QBs who lived up to high expectations in Week 6.
Below are some storylines from Week 6 of the college football season using ESPN’s new set of analytical storytelling metrics for college football. For more background on these metrics, read Dean Oliver’s primer on all of them and his explanation of college Total QBR. For complete college Total QBR information, go here.

Top QBs continue success on Saturday

The top four players in Total QBR entering the day on Saturday lived up to expectations. All four players posted a Total QBR of at least 90 while leading their teams to dominant victories.

Below is a breakdown of these top performances:

• Bryce Petty posted a 97.1 Total QBR in Baylor’s 73-42 win over West Virginia, his fourth straight game with a Total QBR of at least 93. Petty has thrown for at least 300 yards, two touchdowns and averaged 13 yards per attempt in every game this season.

• Marcus Mariota was responsible for a career-high seven touchdowns as he led the Ducks to a 57-16 victory against Colorado. Mariota has posted a Total QBR of 90 or more in four of five games this season.

• Teddy Bridgewater posted his fifth straight game with a Total QBR of 80 or higher in Louisville’s 30-7 win over Temple. Bridgewater was 15-of-17 for 228 yards in the first half and did not have a Total QBR lower than 94 after the Cardinals’ first drive.

• Jameis Winston threw for a career-high 393 yards and five touchdowns against Maryland. Winston had seven completions of 20 yards or longer, including two 21-yard touchdown passes. He now has 27 completions of at least 20 yards, fifth most in the FBS.

Other Notable QBs:

• AJ McCarron posted a 97.0 Total QBR in fewer than two quarters against Georgia State. McCarron completed 15-of-16 passes, including his first 12 attempts. Overall, 12 of his 16 attempts (75%) went for a first down or touchdown, the highest percentage by a quarterback in a game this season.

• Tajh Boyd had a season-high 94.0 Total QBR in Clemson’s 49-14 win over Syracuse. Boyd threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, the most yards by an ACC player in the last 10 seasons. Despite taking three sacks, Boyd posted a 96.5 Total QBR in the first half.

• Zach Mettenberger completed 86% of his passes and posted a 92.1 Total QBR in LSU’s 59-26 win against Mississippi State. Mettenberger now has a 88.6 Total QBR through six games in 2013 after having a 27.2 Total QBR through his first six games of last season.

• Aaron Murray had an 84.7 Total QBR in Georgia’s come-from-behind victory over Tennessee. Murray was 5-of-9 with a touchdown on Georgia’s final drive. Murray has a 96.5 Total QBR when trailing this season, highest in the FBS (min 20 action plays).

Baylor D ready to keep hot start rolling

October, 1, 2013
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsBaylor has rolled through the easy part of its schedule and looked better than it did a year ago.
For the third consecutive season, Baylor is off to a 3-0 start against overmatched opponents. Unlike in recent seasons, the Bears' defense might be able to keep that momentum rolling as conference play starts.

Last year, the Bears allowed nearly 30 points per game in its non-conference games. The defense was even worse in conference play, as seven of nine Big 12 teams scored at least 34 points against Baylor.

Even in the up-tempo Big 12, Baylor had a sub-par defense. Big 12 teams averaged 33 points per game in conference games, while Baylor allowed 41 points per conference game.

Those struggles can be quantified in the defense’s expected points added (EPA) – the number of net points contributed by the defense, taking into account its performance on every play.

In 2012, Baylor was 107th of 120 FBS teams in this metric, with -121.8 defensive EPA. Among members of BCS-AQ conferences, only Colorado, West Virginia and Kansas were worse.

What a difference a year makes. This season, Baylor leads FBS with 87.3 defensive EPA. In contrast, Baylor entered Big 12 play in 2012 with 3.2 defensive EPA.

Offense has also improved
Baylor’s offense has been even better this year than it was last year when the Bears finished tied for fourth in the FBS in scoring with 44.5 points per game.

Baylor has scored at least 69 points in each of its first three games this season (with some help from its special teams and defense), including 70 in each of the last two contests.

The last team to score 70 points in three straight games was LSU in 1930. If the Bears top 60 on Saturday, they’ll be the second team in the last 90 years with four straight 60-point games. Oklahoma had five straight in 2008.

Bryce Petty is Baylor’s third starting quarterback in the last three years, but there hasn’t been any drop-off from Robert Griffin III in 2011 and Nick Florence in 2012.

In fact, Petty might be ahead of RG3. Petty leads the FBS in QBR this season, while Griffin finished sixth when he won the Heisman in 2011.

And the Bears have another weapon they didn’t deploy early last season.

Lache Seastrunk has run for at least 100 yards in seven straight games, tied with Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey for the longest active streak in FBS. Through the first seven games last season, he ran for a total of 181 yards; in nine games since then he’s averaged 139 yards per game.

Brett Smith most dominant QB in Week 4

September, 24, 2013
With only one ranked matchup, the Week 4 slate of underdogs did not provide much competition for the favorite. Top 25 teams were 18-0 against unranked opponents, and the average margin of victory in those games was over five touchdowns.

Four teams highlighted the day of dominant offensive performances. Ohio State, Louisville, Miami and Baylor each scored at least 70 points, the most in a single day since the BCS' inception in 1998. Three of those four teams had a win probability of at least 95 percent by the start of the second quarter, and all four were up by at least 38 points by halftime.

Which of these offensive performances was the most impressive? Which quarterback contributed most to his team’s offensive efficiency? With the help of ESPN’s new CFB metrics (see explanations here), ESPN Stats & Information will look back on Week 4 and look ahead to next weekend’s top 10 matchup between No. 6 LSU and No. 9 Georgia.

Best Individual Performances
Brett Smith (99.0 Total QBR) had a school-record 511 total yards in Wyoming’s 56-23 win over Air Force on Saturday. His biggest contribution came on the ground, as he ran for 138 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. As a result, Smith contributed more expected points from rushing (9.4) than any other quarterback in Week 4.

Terrel Hunt (98.6 Total QBR) posted the highest Total QBR by a Syracuse starter in the last 10 seasons in the Orange’s 52-17 win over Tulane. Hunt has a 98.9 Total QBR and has completed 76.7 percent of his passes this season, compared to a 20.9 Total QBR and 57.4 completion percentage for Syracuse’s starter from its first two games, Drew Allen.

Bryce Petty (98.5 Total QBR) of Baylor currently leads the nation in Total QBR this season (98.4). Against Louisiana-Monroe, Petty posted his third straight Total QBR of 93 or above. The only other player in the country with three straight games of 93-plus is Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Tyler MurphyTyler Murphy (98.1 Total QBR) was called into action early in the first quarter when Florida QB Jeff Driskel broke his leg. Murphy posted a 98.1 Total QBR on 24 action plays, which was the highest Total QBR by a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow had a 98.9 against Vanderbilt in 2008.

Explaining Murphy’s QBR: At first glance, Tyler Murphy had a fairly average statline; he completed 57 percent of his passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. However, Murphy also contributed 84 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. He was nearly perfect on third downs, converting eight of his 12 third-down chances, including five first-down rushes of at least seven yards.

Best Team Performances
Offense –- Ohio State’s offense contributed 47 net points towards its 76-0 victory over Florida A&M. Although the Rattlers are not the most formidable opponent, Ohio State’s had the highest single-game offensive EPA this season and the fifth-highest single-game offensive EPA in the last three seasons. Efficiency is key; Ohio State scored a touchdown on 11 of its 13 drives on Saturday.

Defense –- Baylor is not typically known for its defense, but the Bears lead the country in defensive EPA this season. On Saturday, Baylor’s defense contributed a FBS-high 35.4 expected points towards its 63-point victory over Louisiana-Monroe (70-7) after forcing four turnovers, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the first quarter. Overall, Baylor has scored 73 points off turnovers this season, second in FBS behind Northwestern.

Special Teams – Iowa scored its most points since 2002 (59) against Western Michigan on Saturday, and 14 of those points were directly related to special teams. Junior returner Kevonte Martin-Manley returned two consecutive Western Michigan punts for touchdowns early in the second quarter. Iowa scored as many touchdowns on offense (4) as its defense and specials teams had combined on Saturday.

Looking ahead to Week 5
After a weak slate of games last weekend, Week 5 has four matchups of ranked opponents, including one matchup of top 10 teams. No. 6 LSU travels to No. 9 Georgia in a game that will match two of the most improved offenses in the country.

LSU ranks 16th in offensive EPA per game this season after ranking 68th last season. The biggest difference has been QB Zach Mettenberger, who has nearly tripled his Total QBR from last season.

His 49-point increase from last season to this season is the largest of any qualified quarterback in the nation.

Similarly, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray raised his Total QBR from 73.0 in 2012 to 84.3 in in 2013. His best game of the season came against South Carolina, a team that he was winless against until this season.

Murray will look to avenge his past meeting with LSU, a 42-10 loss in the 2011 SEC Championship game. In that game he threw two interceptions and posted his third-lowest Total QBR (17.3) of his career.