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Stat Simulation – Game 7: Texas Aggies vs Ole Miss

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Analyzing how the #3 Mississippi Rebels (5-0, 2-0) stack up against the #14 Fightin’ Texas Aggies (5-1, 2-1) in this week's Stat Simulation...

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

First, I want to own up to a mistake I made in last week’s prediction.  I forgot to update the Sagarin rating for Mississippi State which left them under-appreciated in the formulas – I accidentally left in Arkansas’ rating of ~76.5 instead of using Jeff’s Miss St. rating of 88.  This WOULD HAVE made the prediction to the game 33-30 (F1) and 34-29 (F2) in Miss St’s favor.  This is why I have disclaimer #2 below, if you were using my breakdown for illicit activities to make money, well… oops.  This mistake added to my confidence level, because I even wrote the following as my "gut feeling":

The Aggies will win this game by a couple of touchdowns.  I feel pretty confident in the score predication my formula put out, with the Ags pulling ahead in the 2nd half, ending up 42 – 24 good guys

I have corrected the mistake for this week’s match up.  As you can see, it’s going to be a tight game with the nation’s still-#3 offense (even after last week’s debacle) going against the #5 defense in Ole Miss.  Ole Miss is stout on defense, especially pass defense, boasting the SEC’s #1 in Pass Defense, Scoring Defense, Pass Efficiency Defense, Yards Per Play Defense, Average Per Pass Defense, Points per Play Defense, Points per Yard Defense, Redzone TD % Defense, and Interceptions per Game.  I’ll bet the Ole Miss back-7 is salivating after watching A&M QB Kenny Hill get rattled and give up 3 interceptions (to the same damn linebacker, curse him).  On the other hand, Ole Miss doesn't get very many sacks or TFL comparatively, and they can be run on.

Can Texas A&M’s conference-leading offense match up to what Ole Miss is bringing to Kyle Field?  The Aggies lead in Total Offense, Passing Offense, Scoring Offense, Plays Per Game, Pass Plays per Game, Yards Per Play, and 1st Down Offense.  Texas A&M also allows very few sacks or TFL per game, they average 5.9 yards per rush, 8.6 yards per pass attempt, and convert nearly 50% of 3rd downs.  In my opinion, A&M needs to use the running game earlier – we have three elite backs that are all averaging over 5 yards per carry.  All three of them can catch the ball as well.  It will be incumbent upon Kenny Hill not to try and force the big plays, but to get the ball to the open man (WR or RB) who can then turn up field and make the plays in space.

Will A&M OC Jake Spavital finally put some running into the 1st Half Playbook? Keys to the Game for Texas A&M: (1) Fix the drops, please; (2) Utilize the RB’s more in running and passing – especially in the first half; (3) Get to Bo Wallace with bodies and crowd noise

Before you skip to the analysis, please let me first explain the scope, drawbacks, and purpose of this chart. Once you're familiar with this information, you can happily skip ahead in the future. But I insist that you READ THIS NOW before you proceed.

Key to the chart below:
Blue Metric = Top 25 in the Nation
Red Metric = Bottom 25 in the nation
Advantage = One team is more than 20 spots ahead of the other team’s inverse metric in the national ranking; i.e. Texas A&M was ranked 68th in Rush Defense versus SMU’s 98th ranked Rushing Offense; therefore, due to A&M being 30 spots ahead of SMU in that metric's national ranking, they get the "advantage".

20141011 TAMU_MISS StatBreakdown_Tall

Disclaimer 1: The prediction formula is an algorithm that I created which takes into account yardage offense and defense, how a team has performed relative to its direct competition, injuries, red zone scoring, home/away/neutral, turnover margin, average points scored and allowed, and a multitude of other factors that are all represented on the above "Foundation of Facts". I have been tweaking the formula for 4 years, but nonetheless I have not found a way to accurately predict the outcome of each game because (as my quote above implies) there are simply TOO many variables to account for and too much uncertainty in each game. However, it is fun to include the objective, stat-based, and numbers-only prediction for a conversation piece. (Besides, if my formula was really that accurate I would horde it to myself and be a multi-millionaire like alternate-Biff in the movie Back to the Future 2)

Disclaimer 2: I take no responsibility if you attempt to use this prediction for betting; unless you win - in which case I demand a 10% gratuity. But seriously, if you have a gambling problem and use this to bet, and lose... do not hold me responsible and seek help to beat your addiction.

NOTABLES

1. This is truly the battle of Best Passing Offense versus Best Passing Defense.  The edge, in my opinion usually goes to the defense in these battles.  Especially when the offense has the added penalty of catching the dropsies disease in the last 2 games.

2. Ole Miss has the best pass defense in the conference, but a mediocre pass rush.  This implies that their linebackers and secondary are just that good.  This is also backed up with their league-leading interception rate (2 per game).

3. Ole Miss is not a good running team, they utilize small scat backs not the typical power runners the SEC is known for.  Their QB Bo Wallace has lead them to the #2 conference ranking in passing yards per game, but has shown a penchant for not getting it done on the road (in the past).  A&M will have to get to Bo early and often, this being a night game in Kyle Field should certainly invigorate the Aggie Fans as well.

4. Ole Miss is a prime opportunity for A&M to finally get some take-aways.  The Aggies 102nd ranked turnover margin might be improved going against a team that loses just less than 1 fumble and just over 1 interception per game.

5. I know Time of Possession is not a major factor, especially with this offense (we have the worst TOP but the most plays run per game in the SEC), but keeping the ball and sustaining drives is very important.  We may run at a dizzying pace, but we can’t seem to keep drives going, especially in the first half.  We need to learn that keeping the ball is more important than making the dazzling big play.

6. Ole Miss is the SEC’s worst in Kick-Off Returns and Punt Returns.

7. Finally, a team that commits as many penalties the Aggies!

8. Even after losing to Miss St., Jeff Sagarin still has the Aggies ahead of the Bulldogs in the Sagarin rankings.  Ole Miss is ahead of both at #3.

GUT FEELING

The Aggies will have tough time pulling the upset at home, but Kyle Field is rocking as everyone understands the stakes and wants to test the potential volume of new Kyle Field.  Bo Wallace throws 2 interceptions – one of them a pick-6.  The Aggies win 30-27.

LOOK AHEAD

The Aggies travel to Tuscaloosa to take on a seething Alabama team at home – where A&M upset then #1 Bama two years ago behind the dazzling play from freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.  Nick Saban will remind his team what happened "in their house" last time and will make extra sure his team is prepared for retribution in 2014.