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Pac-12 Bowl Game Comparisons and Projections (Part 1)

Two Pac-12 teams will be playing in bowl games this Saturday-what are their chances?

California v UCLA Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

This is the first part of a series which will look at the bowl games for the Pac-12. Next week I hope to look at the remaining Pac-12 bowl games prior to the New Year’s day games. And the final part will look at the two NY6 games featuring Pac-12 teams.

The Pac-12 is in action again this Saturday with two teams playing in bowl games: UCLA and California. This will look at both games to compare the teams in those bowl games using advanced stats and show who is favored in the games.

UCLA vs Boise State

California v UCLA Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

UW fans obviously have some familiarity with Boise State. But if you haven’t followed them since UW beat them in the first game, they are not the same team. For one, they have a new coach. Andy Avalos was fired in mid-November when the Broncos were 5-5. Boise State has won all three games since then-including the Mountain West Championship over UNLV (by 22 points).

UCLA started the season doing well. They did lose a couple of road games against ranked (at the time) opponents, but they were still ranked #19 in the first CFP rankings. But since then they are 1-3, with losses to Arizona State and California and the win over USC. A lot of the up-and-down to their season has to do with the QB position. They’ve started 3 different QB’s this season including former UW QB Ethan Garbers.

In the Massey Composite Rankings, Boise State is #40 while UCLA is #41-so it could be a very close game. The advanced stats rankings also have this as a close matchup.

Advanced Stats Ranking Comparison-UCLA vs Boise State

School FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank FPI
School FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank FPI
Boise State 43 41 44 29 46
UCLA 39 39 40 40 35

UCLA has a very slight advantage in most of the advanced stat rankings; I don’t know that you’ll find a couple of more evenly matched teams in the bowl games.

Here’s what the advanced stats look like for both sides of the ball for each team.

Off/Def Stat Comparison-UCLA vs Boise State

Team/Side FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank
Team/Side FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank
UCLA Offense 74 62 56 81
Boise State Defense 52 58 71 35
Boise State Offense 32 29 33 32
UCLA Defense 8 12 17 8

UCLA’s defense should be the best unit from either team, but UCLA’s offense is probably the worst unit. This would normally indicate a relatively low-scoring game.

Several sites are projecting which team will have the advantage in the game.

  • ESPN’s FPI has UCLA with a 58.2% win percentage.
  • Beta Rank has Boise State with a 65% win percentage.
  • Massey has UCLA with a 69% win percentage.
  • SP+ has UCLA with a 51% win percentage.

Even though UCLA has the advantage in 3 of the 4, it appears it could go either way. As with a lot of bowl games, the outcome could come down to which team has the most motivation and the least impact from opt-outs.

California vs Texas Tech

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 04 Cal at Oregon

Both teams are going into the bowl game with 6-6 records. Both teams also feature great RB’s. Texas Tech’s Tahj Brooks is 5th in the nation with 120.2 yards per game while Cal’s Jaydn Ott is 7th with 114.5 yards per game.

California needed to win its last 3 games to be bowl-eligible. But they also faced one of the most difficult schedules in all of college football-playing UW, Oregon, Utah, Oregon State, UCLA, and USC; that’s 3 teams in the final CFP rankings and 3 other teams that were in the CFP rankings at one time.

The two teams did face one common opponent: Oregon. Texas Tech lost in the last few minutes in Lubbock, Texas. (Texas Tech was ahead with less than 2 minutes to go.) Cal lost 63-19 in Eugene and the game wasn’t close at halftime.

In the Massey Composite Rankings, Texas Tech is #46 while Cal is #48. So again, a couple of potentially very evenly matched teams.

The advanced stats rankings also have this as a close matchup.

Advanced Stats Ranking Comparison-California vs Texas Tech

School FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank FPI
School FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank FPI
California 44 51 62 41 48
Texas Tech 46 48 55 43 39

There is not a lot of separation. Texas Tech has a small advantage in 3 of the 5 rankings.

Here’s what the advanced stats look like for both sides of the ball for each team.

Off/Def Stat Comparison-California vs Texas Tech

Team/Side FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank
Team/Side FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank
California Offense 48 40 34 48
Texas Tech Defense 23 41 61 24
Texas Tech Offense 64 56 55 62
California Defense 45 59 86 45

There isn’t as much consistency compared to the game between UCLA and Boise State. Texas Tech’s defense ranges from #23, which would be very good, to #61, which isn’t good. Cal’s defense ranges from #45 (decent) to #86 (bad). So it could come down to which of those is correct. But based on the rankings, it doesn’t look like either team has much of an advantage either way.

One place where Cal may have a slight advantage is that their run defense may be better than Texas Tech’s. Cal gives up an average of less than 4 yards per carry (3.84) which Texas Tech gives up almost 4.5 (4.49). That could be significant since both teams may try to run with their elite RB’s.

Several sites are projecting which team will have the advantage in the game.

  • ESPN’s FPI has Texas Tech with a 59.2% win percentage.
  • Beta Rank has the game as even-50% win percentage for each team.
  • Massey has Texas Tech with a 57% win percentage.
  • SP+ has Texas Tech with a 56% win percentage.

Texas Tech may have an advantage, but it is very close. As with a lot of bowl games, the outcome could come down to which team has the most motivation and the least impact from opt-outs.

Poll

What will the record be for the Pac-12 teams in the first two bowl games? (UCLA vs Boise State and California vs Texas Tech)

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    2-0 (Both teams will win)
    (99 votes)
  • 59%
    1-1
    (187 votes)
  • 9%
    0-2 (Both teams will lose)
    (29 votes)
315 votes total Vote Now