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Per the Data: Texas A&M really is beatable

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The numbers don’t lie, nerds!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Alabama at Texas A&M Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Lots of folks though Jimbo Fisher would get down to Aggieville and turn the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Texas A&M around and bring a title to College Station. All the money in the world combined with one of four active head coaches with a national championship was supposed to turn the SEC West on its’ head.

Hasn’t happened yet.

Of course, Texas A&M has the toughest schedule in the country with the regular west opponents combined with Georgia and Clemson. Eventually you have to beat someone good though, and Texas A&M hasn’t been able to do that just yet.

Here’s why I think Ole Miss can beat ‘em:

106th in IsoPPP

This measures explosiveness on plays where you are successful. Texas A&M is relatively successful on the offensive side of the ball (30th nationally) but they require a bunch of plays to score points. In college, needed 10-12 play drives to score is asking a lot of the offense.

129th in expected turnover margin

Now, the Aggies are just 87th nationally in ACTUAL turnover margin (which is still bad) but these numbers indicate Texas A&M has been extremely lucky in the turnover battle so far this year. A&M puts the ball on the ground a lot and opposing defensive backs have a knack for dropping balls they should pick off. Ole Miss struggles turning teams over, so this is a key stat to watch.

90th in stuff rate

To me, the best two numbers to measure an offensive line are stuff rate and sack rate. They show how good you are at getting an initial push when running the ball and how good you are at keeping your QB upright in the passing game. The Aggies struggle at both...

91st in sack rate

The Texas A&M offensive line is just downright not good. They can’t keep opposing defenders off of Kellen Mond, which is unfortunate because when he isn’t lying on the ground he’s led an extremely good passing attack.

103rd in average third-down distance

Look for a lot of third-and-long situations for the Aggies Saturday. Of course, few teams give those up like Ole Miss, but the key to getting stops is to force opposing offenses into obvious passing downs and then hope for a drop or a pass defensed.

4th in 21-to-30-yard line success rate

This is a very specific category, but when you add in 51st in 11- to 20-yard and 43rd in inside 10 success rate, you see Texas A&M is good when they shorten the field. Tons of spread offense aren’t, so credit to Kellen Mond for improvising and making plays down deep in opposing territory.

29th in rushing success rate

I needed this headline to I could discuss Isaiah Spiller’s solid freshman debut. CJ Spiller’s little bro has rushed 51 times this season for 282 yards and three touchdowns. However, he’s averaging 9.41 highlight yards per opportunity. Basically, when his offensive line isn’t getting him crushed behind the line of scrimmage, he’s electric.

32nd in rushing SP+

The strength of their defense is probably in the fact they don’t have a true strength—and therefore no true weakness. They’re 33rd nationally in passing SP+ so it’s difficult to key in on a point of attack. Of course, with John Rhys Plumlee in the game, the plan is obvious. That A&M has no strength of their defense means fans will see plenty of Matt Corral, I’m sure.

112th in passing marginal explosiveness

When opponents can pass the ball (and they’re successful—about 60% of the time) these tend to be for big gains. With a defense likely keyed on the run when Plumlee is in the game, that’s Elijah Moore’s music. If he can get in space, he can be behind the defense and into the endzone quicker than you can yell Beat the hell out of Ole Miss.

127th in power success rate

Another measure of line play, Texas A&M struggles with jumbo sets. Fortunately for the Aggies, Ole Miss lacks a dominant offensive line that can barrel over you. When Plumlee scampers, he does it more like a deer and less like a bear. Look for Snoop Conner to get extra carries if this holds true.

99th in sack rate

The Aggie defensive front, much like the Rebels’, struggles to get to the quarterback. This is a welcome change as Texas A&M has had dominant pass rushers over much of the last decade, and the Ole Miss offensive line of 2019 struggles in pass protection.

108th in passes defense to incompletion

For a team with a young passing attack, knowing you aren’t throwing into an exceptionally good secondary is key. Corral (and Plumlee to a lesser extent) should have a little more margin for error in passing situations and in a game where Vegas projects the score to be within a touchdown, one or two batted down passes could decide the game.