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Under the Hood: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Baylor Bears Statistical Comparison

First Iowa State, now Baylor. When you see them listed on the schedule, as a Husker fan you don't think twice about marking them down as easy wins. Last week's loss to Iowa State should have made it clear - there are no easy wins this season. Not with an offense that's sputtering as badly as the Huskers. 

Before the season started, both Husker Mike and I pointed to the Baylor game as a potential loss on the road. I can't speak for Mike, but a lot of my reasoning had to do with Baylor phenom quarterback Robert Griffin. Griffin is an incredible athlete, but he was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in a body bag game (if such a thing exists for Baylor) against Northwestern State.

If that weren't enough, Baylor senior backup quarterback Blake Szymanski suffered a shoulder injury in the same game. He aggravated the should injury last week against Oklahoma State, and if he can't go, the Bears will start freshman Nick Florence. Either way, Nebraska will face another backup quarterback, and as ESPN's Tim Griffin recently pointed out, we haven't exactly done well against backups. 

Offensive Comparisons 

Nebraska   Baylor
Rush YPG 146.29 (61/6)   136.86 (77/9)
Rush YPC 4.63 (31/3)   4.78 (24/2)
Rush TDS 12 (50/8)   12 (50/8)
Pass YPG 235.1 (42/7)   223.7 (53/9)
Pass YPA 7.2 (54/7)   6.8 (77/10)
Pass TDS 12 (42/8)   9 (74/11)
Pass Efficiency 130.82 (56/7)   124.68 (73/10)
Total Offense 381.4 (58/8)   355.6 (75/11)

Defensive Comparisons 

Nebraska   Baylor
Rush YPG 100.86 (20/6)   184.43 (100/12)
Rush YPC 2.77 (11/3)   4.32 (86/12)
Rush TDS 5 (15/3)   11 (74/9)
Pass YPG 164.1 (13/1)   216.7 (63/4)
Pass YPA 5.5 (11/3)   6.2 (28/5)
Pass TDS 3 (2/1)   8 (30/4)
Total Defense 265.0 (7/3)   401.1 (91/11)
Scoring Defense 11.4 (4/2)   24.3 (66/10)

Opponent Positional Rank

Total Offense Rank Nebraska Opponent Total Defense Rank   Total Offense Rank Baylor Total Defense Rank
10 Florida Atlantic 113   59 Wake Forest 67
84 Arkansas State 42   53 Connecticut 37
60 @Virginia Tech 31   xx Northwestern State xx
83 UL-Lafayette 103   100 Kent State 61
62 @Missouri 52   29 Oklahoma 6
4 Texas Tech 73   55 Iowa State 83
55 Iowa State 83   30 Oklahoma State 56
51.14 Average 71   54.33 Average 51.67

Northwestern State is FCS, so they're not included in statistics. 

- Nebraska clearly has an offensive edge over Baylor's defense. Given that, you'd expect that Nebraska's offense should be able to move the ball against the Bears.

- Alas the Huskers (and the fan base) have been snake bitten - if the offense is going to move the ball, clearly a playmaker or two must emerge. Had Niles Paul made it into the end zone, giving Nebraska 13 TDs through the air, they'd have risen to a tie for 35th in the nation instead of 42nd. Had Roy Helu and Dontrayevous Robinson not fumbled and made it to the end zone (for two more TDs), the Huskers would be tied at 32nd instead of 50th. Both would seem at the least a little more impressive. 

- Nebraska's defense obviously has a stated edge against the Bears, as they will against every offense we'll see the rest of the regular season. 

- Nebraska's yard per carry on the ground isn't as miserable as their rushing average. Does that mean we should be rushing the ball more? I would say yes - and it isn't just a feeling that Shawn Watson wants a passing game. 

- Both teams are on losing streaks, with Nebraska having lost their last two to Texas Tech and Iowa State at home, while scoring only 17 points. The Bears have lost their last three at Oklahoma, at Iowa State and to Oklahoma State, while scoring a combined 24 points. 

- Stating the obvious - this game will be won by the team whose offense sucks the least. Given how good Nebraska's defense is - it darned well better be Baylor. 

- Thoughts?