One word describes the Baylor defense- bad.
Baylor’s defense gives up an astonishing 38.2 points per game. In their five losses, they give up 50.4 points per game. In their seven wins, they give up 29.4 points per game. As evidenced by the statistics, despite having an unbelievable offense, games are still won on the defensive side of the ball. UCLA’s offense averages 35.1 points per game. A similar offense statistically is Texas. The Longhorns, who average 36.1 points per game, scored 56 against Baylor.
So what makes the Baylor defense so bad?
First of all, they can’t stop the run. They have given up nearly 5 yards per carry and 28 rushing touchdowns on the season. On first downs, opponents rush for 5.06 yards per carry. On 3rd down, 1-3 yards to go, Baylor’s defense gives up 5.69 yards per carry. Simply put, they can’t and won’t stop Johnathan Franklin.
To compliment Baylor’s inability to stop the run, they struggle with the pass, as well. Baylor’s defense has given up 3,887 yards passing and 33 touchdowns in 12 games this season. To compare that with the much maligned UCLA secondary, we see that UCLA has given up 567 less yards and eight less touchdowns, despite playing in one more game. Opponents complete 64.0 percent of passes against Baylor and have a passer rating of 144.11. To go along with poor coverage skills and untimely risk taking, the Bears secondary struggles to tackle well. It will be key, as always in Mazzone’s offense, for UCLA to get significant yards after the catch.
The strength of the Baylor defense is their ability to force turnovers. Although not elite in this category either, the Bears come in respectably at 42nd nationally in takeaways per game with 1.9. The UCLA defense ranks 21st nationally with 2.2 per game.
Ultimately if UCLA is to earn their 10th win of the season in the Holiday Bowl, they need to win the turnover battle. Baylor’s defense doesn’t have the ability to stop, or even slow down, the UCLA offense if Brett Hundley, Johnathan Franklin and company can take care of the ball.