Study Hall: Oklahoma State 30, Texas A&M 29

One of the more fun games of the weekend...

Oklahoma State 30, Texas A&M 29

OSU A&M OSU A&M
Close % 100.0% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 49.5% 40.5% Success Rate 56.3% 52.1%
Leverage % 74.7% 64.9% PPP 0.30 0.26
S&P 0.862 0.779
TOTAL
EqPts 27.8 21.8 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 50.5% 48.7% Success Rate 33.3% 42.3%
Close PPP 0.29 0.29 PPP 0.27 0.36
Close S&P 0.798 0.780 S&P 0.607 0.784
RUSHING TURNOVERS
EqPts 8.0 9.0 Number 1 4
Close Success Rate 34.4% 48.0% Turnover Pts 8.1 16.2
Close PPP 0.25 0.36 Turnover Pts Margin +8.1 +8.1
Close S&P 0.594 0.840
Line Yards/carry 0.72 3.01 Q1 S&P 0.550 1.073
Q2 S&P 0.623 0.911
PASSING Q3 S&P 1.243 0.073
EqPts 19.8 12.8 Q4 S&P 0.395 0.779
Close Success Rate 58.7% 49.0%
Close PPP 0.31 0.26 1st Down S&P 0.767 0.620
Close S&P 0.901 0.750 2nd Down S&P 0.983 0.981
SD/PD Sack Rate 2.1% / 13.3% 3.2% / 5.6% 3rd Down S&P 0.666 0.754
Projected Pt. Margin: Oklahoma State +14.1 | Actual Pt. Margin: Oklahoma State +1

Five Thoughts

  1. It is difficult to lose three quarters and win the game, but that's what OSU pulled off in College Station. Their S&P for Q1, Q2 and Q4 was downright terrible, but their three-touchdown explosion in the third quarter, combined with three Aggie turnovers in five plays (!), got the job done. They outscored A&M 21-0 in Q3 and were outscored 29-9 the rest of the way.

  2. So how did OSU adjust and surge in the third quarter? By ignoring Justin Blackmon, basically. Brandon Weeden threw 22 passes in OSU's three touchdown drives, and only five were directed at Mr. Biletnikoff. He completed four of five passes to Josh Cooper for 33 yards, four of six to Hubert Anyiam for 36 yards, five of six to other targets for 52 yards, and four of five to Blackmon for 48 yards. Instead of forcing the issue, he took what A&M gave him, whether it was a quick sideline pass to Anyiam, an underneath dump to Cooper or a flare to running back Joseph Randle. And it worked just enough to bring OSU back.

  3. Both teams did a lovely job of preventing big plays (as evidenced by both teams' 0.29 PPP average -- the national average is usually around 0.32-0.33). Sure, Ryan Tannehill still broke a 65-yard run on the game's fourth play, and sure, four Cowboys caught passes of 20 yards or more, but that's missing the point; these teams both look to run a ton of plays -- they combined for 169 on the day -- and on average, there weren't that many explosive ones. When each offense was clicking, it was usually with patience and efficiency.

  4. A&M did a better job on passing downs (Passing Downs S&P: A&M 0.784, OSU 0.607), but OSU did a better job of avoiding passing downs (Leverage Rate: OSU 74.7%, A&M 64.9%). This is a bit surprising considering how poorly OSU ran the ball ... or more specifically, how poorly OSU did in the run-blocking department. A&M's front seven did a wonderful job of corralling the run and holding up against a strong OSU front five, but it evidently came with a price: open passing lanes, especially along the sidelines.

  5. I preach and preach about how much the first quarter matters -- it's one of the Four Truths, after all -- but this game could obviously be used as an exception, right? Sort of. Let's put it this way: in the third quarter, as mentioned above, OSU scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions and forced three turnovers in five plays ... and they won by one point. They needed that much to make up the advantage that A&M built with their great play before the break. Is that something you want to count on? If these teams played the second half ten times, starting each time with A&M up 20-3, the Aggies would win almost every time.

Quick glossary after the jump.

A Quick Glossary

F/+ Rankings: The official rankings for the college portion of Football Outsiders. They combine my own S&P+ rankings (based on play-by-play data) with Brian Fremeau's drives-based FEI rankings.

Passing Downs: Second-and-7 or more, third-and-5 or more.

PPP: An explosiveness measure derived from determining the point value of every yard line (based on the expected number of points an offense could expect to score from that yard line) and, therefore, every play of a given game.

S&P+: Think of this as an OPS (the "On-Base Plus Slugging" baseball measure) for football. The 'S' stands for success rates, a common Football Outsiders efficiency measure that basically serves as on-base percentage. The 'P' stands for PPP+, an explosiveness measure that stands for EqPts Per Play. The "+" means it has been adjusted for the level of opponent, obviously a key to any good measure in college football. S&P+ is measured for all non-garbage time plays in a given college football game. Plays are counted within the following criteria: when the score is within 28 points in the first quarter, within 24 points in the second quarter, within 21 points in the third quarter, and within 16 points (i.e. two possession) in the fourth quarter. For more about this measure, visit the main S&P+ page at Football Outsiders.

Standard Downs: First downs, second-and-6 or less, third-and-4 or less.

Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.

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