- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Ready for some numbers? It's time for our weekly stat digs, in which we team with ESPN Stats & Information to find the numbers that matter most for the Longhorns and their next opponent. Here are the stats to remember going into Texas' home showdown with No. 7 Baylor on Saturday (2:30 p.m. CT, ABC).
1. No. 1
Let's just make this clear: Baylor does have the No. 1 offense in the nation. Dispute this if you want, but let's look at a larger sample size than Bears' four games of 2014.
On Nov. 17, 2012, BCS No. 1 Kansas State came to Waco and got clobbered, losing 52-24 loss to a Baylor team that entered the night with a 4-5 record. This was one of the great turning-point games of the Art Briles era. Including that game, Baylor has now won 19 of its last 21 games.
The Bears have led the country in these offensive categories during that 21-game stretch: scoring offense (52.5 ppg), total offense (617.7 ypg), plays per game (84.4), touchdowns (138), first downs (610), plays gaining 10 or more yards (442) and plays gaining 20-plus (165)
They've outgained opponents by a margin of 5,434 yards. This offense scores on 50 percent of its drives and scores touchdowns on almost 44 percent. When Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford jokes that this offense making it hard for him to sleep and eat this week, there might be some truth to that.
The much-hyped duo of Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown is averaging 4.0 yards per carry this season. Neither has surpassed 100 rushing yards in a game this season. They are playing behind an inexperienced offensive line and they will be all season long.
Texas stubbornly tried to run into a loaded box at Kansas. The results weren't great. Baylor will focus on stopping Brown and Gray and making this Longhorn offense one-dimensional. How is Joe Wickline, the offensive coordinator in charge of the run game, going to adjust?
Two numbers worth keeping in mind: Brown and Gray are averaging 5.25 yards per carry on outside runs and 3.08 yards on inside runs. Based on ESPN Stats & Info's advanced data, Texas' inside rushing rate as a team ranks fifth-worst among Power 5 conference teams. There's a logical explanation for this: Texas has good blocking tight ends to help clear a path when they get outside. It also makes sense that Texas tried the speed option last week as another method for getting to the edge.
What made Baylor a complete team last season was a defense that knew exactly how to complement its high-flying offense. They focus their attention on a few critical measurements of good defense and they master them. A big one: three-and-outs.
Baylor's defense has forced 85 three-and-outs on defense since the start of the 2013 season. That's best in FBS. They're tied for sixth nationally this season with 22 through four games. Offenses facing Baylor have gone three-and-out and punted on nearly one-third of their drives (32.2 percent) since 2013.
Shawn Watson is emphasizing the importance of first-down gains this week, an area in which Texas ranks 120th nationally at 4.35 yards per play. They have to be a lot better, or else the pressure will get turned up on Tyrone Swoopes in a big way.
Three more to remember
27.9: Baylor's first-half scoring average in its past 10 conference games. Texas' struggling offense can't be expected to match four touchdowns in the first half.
0.79 percent: Bryce Petty's interception rate since the start of 2013, best among active FBS players. He's turned it over on four of his 504 attempts as a starter. He's not going to give this game away.
0-12: Baylor's record under Briles when its offense is held to fewer than 20 points.