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Pac-12 Bowl Game Team Comparison and Projection (Part 4)

Oregon and Washington will play on New Year’s Day

2023 Pac-12 Championship - Oregon v Washington Photo by Ric Tapia/Getty Images

This is the fourth part of a series which looked at the matchups for the bowl games for the Pac-12 using advanced stats. This final part will look at the two NY6 games featuring Pac-12 teams: the Fiesta Bowl and the Sugar Bowl.

The two premier teams in the Pac-12 this year will play in 2 of the “New Year’s Six” bowl games.

Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs Liberty

2023 Pac-12 Championship - Oregon v Washington Photo by Ric Tapia/Getty Images

Husky fans know all about Oregon. Despite what some Husky fans may think of them, they’ve had a great season-led by Heisman finalist, Bo Nix.

Liberty plays in Conference USA. They won that conference and were one of the 4 FBS teams to finish unbeaten (13-0). According to ESPN, Liberty’s Strength of Schedule was 133. There are 133 teams in the FBS, so they had the easiest schedule of all FBS teams. (Sagarin had their SOS at 139, meaning that some FCS teams had an easier schedule!) Liberty not only didn’t play any ranked team, they didn’t even play any team from any of the Power-5 conferences.

But, as Husky fans should be aware, winning every game is hard-even when you are better than some of your opponents. ESPN had their Strength of Record at #13-indicating that they think that even average top-25 teams wouldn’t necessarily go undefeated against their schedule. They did beat New Mexico State twice; and New Mexico State not only won 10 games, and one of their wins was over Auburn (at Auburn, 31-10)-so New Mexico State should at least be considered a decent team.

In the Massey Composite Rankings, Oregon is #8 and Liberty is #20.

Here is how both teams look in some of the advanced stats.

Advanced Stat Comparison-Oregon vs Liberty

School FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank FPI
School FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank FPI
Oregon 2 2 4 1 8
Liberty 25 22 20 17 50

The advanced stats rankings give Oregon even more of an advantage compared to the Composite Rankings. You can see why Oregon is favored by 17.

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

Off/Def Stat Comparison-Oregon vs Liberty

Team/Side FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank
Team/Side FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank
Oregon Off. 2 2 1 2
Liberty Def. 76 62 43 81
Liberty Off. 4 5 11 4
Oregon Def. 15 16 14 14

Both teams have very good offenses. The difference is on defense where Oregon’s is good and Liberty’s isn’t. This could be a bit of a shoot-out, but only if Oregon doesn’t make many stops on defense.

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

  • ESPN’s FPI has Oregon with a 89.9% win percentage.
  • Beta Rank has Oregon with a 90% win percentage.
  • Massey has Oregon with a 90% win percentage.
  • SP+ has Oregon with a 78% win percentage.

So, all of these sites see Oregon with a massive advantage in the game. 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.

Sugar Bowl: Washington vs Texas

This is obviously a repeat of last year’s Alamo Bowl, but with much more at stake.

2023 Pac-12 Championship - Oregon v Washington Photo by Ric Tapia/Getty Images

No need to introduce UW.

Texas is back-finally. Under Steve Sarkisian, Texas upset Alabama in Tuscaloosa earlier this season. They had a slight let-up when they lost the Red River Rivalry to Oklahoma. But they rebounded and beat Oklahoma State handily in the Big12 Championship game.

In the Massey Composite Rankings, Washington is #2 and Texas is #3 (which obviously matches the CFP rankings).

Here is how both teams look in some of the advanced stats.

Advanced Stat Comparison-Washington vs Texas

School FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank FPI
School FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank FPI
Washington 8 11 11 13 13
Texas 6 6 7 6 7

You can see why Texas is favored-their advanced stat ranking is higher than UW. (But then again, Oregon is ranked higher and UW beat them twice.)

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

Off/Def Stat Comparison-Washington vs Texas

Team/Side FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank
Team/Side FEI F+ SP+ Beta Rank
UW Off. 6 7 5 10
Texas Def. 7 7 10 6
Texas Off. 15 11 8 16
UW Def. 27 38 42 25

This looks like a strength-on-strength matchup with UW’s offense vs the Texas defense. Last year Texas held UW to one of its lowest offensive performances of Kalen DeBoer tenure.

On the other side, Texas has a very good offense as well-almost as good as UW’s. But UW’s defense (statistically) isn’t as good. But, as we’ve seen it has been very opportunistic and held Oregon’s offense (which as you see above is ranked even higher than Texas’) to a couple of its lowest point totals of the year.

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

  • ESPN’s FPI has Texas with a 68.6% win percentage.
  • Beta Rank has Texas with a 67% win percentage.
  • Massey has Texas with a 64% win percentage.
  • SP+ has Texas with a 64% win percentage.

Those are surprisingly consistent and fit with the advanced stats advantage for Texas. But those sites all had Oregon with a higher win percentage in the Pac-12 Championship Game, so they are definitely not perfect when it comes to UW.

Poll

What will the Pac-12’s record be in the NY6 games

This poll is closed

  • 91%
    2-0 (both teams win)
    (242 votes)
  • 8%
    1-1
    (22 votes)
  • 0%
    0-2 (both teams lose)
    (1 vote)
265 votes total Vote Now