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Advanced Statistical Preview: Cincinnati Bearcats at Temple

The advanced stats preview comes a little bit earlier than usual this week thanks to the holiday. The Temple Owls are, like most teams the Bearcats have played during the winning streak, a fairly one dimensional team. They are very good on defense, perhaps the best in the conference. That defense allowed them to spring the upset on East Carolina, it allowed them to stick with Memphis in a game they lost 16-13. The defense keeps them in games, and their offense assures everyone that they won't win them.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati Offense Temple Defense
S&P+ 109.6 (33rd) 103.2 (50th)
Success Rate 45.9% (31st) 39.1% (42nd)
ISO PPP .96 (17th) .74 (17th)
Rushing S&P 108.6 (46th) 103.2 (58th)
Passing S&P 127.9 (16th) 98.1 (69th)
Standard Downs S&P 112.0 (37th) 105.8 (47th)
Passing Downs S&P 140.4 (12th) 93.4 (83rd)

This is the match up that will really decide the game. The advanced metrics don't smile on the Owls the way that the traditional stats do, the per play stats in particular, but make no mistake. This is a very good defense that is more than capable of causing problems for the Bearcats, particularly if the Bearcats recent spat of turnovers (11 in the last four games) continues on into this week.

The biggest thing to takeaway from this is that the Temple is a very good defense on a down to down efficiency basis, but they also do a phenomenal job at taking away the big play. This is not the Temple defense of the last few years that was good down to down but gave up plenty of big plays. This group doesn't do that, they sit in depth and make the offense play in front of them. That is the approach that UConn used last week, and it kind of worked. Yes the Bearcats scored 41 points and won in a laugher, but the Bearcats total yards and yards per play were as bad as they were in the Miami loss.

Temple is more aggressive in their approach than UConn was, but in general they will be able to execute a good plan at a higher level. UC has gotten much better at stringing together long drives, they are certainly light years ahead of where they were in September in this regard. They will have to be even better this week because drives will be of paramount importance, and the big plays won't be available in abundance.

Cincinnati Defense Temple Offense
S&P+ 93.7 (87th) 93.4 (90th)
Success Rate 44.9 % (102nd) 36.9 (114th)
ISO PPP .85 (69th) .83 (81st)
Rushing S&P 91.4 (95th) 97.2 (77th)
Passing S&P 96.8 (77th) 84.7 (104th)
Standard Downs S&P 97.6 (78th) 96.0 (83rd)
Passing Downs S&P 88.7 (98th) 75.2 (119th)

In this game there is a matchup of unavailing quality, the Bearcats offense against the Temple defense, and one where things are not going to be played to that high of a standard. Temple is struggling mightily on offense with P.J. Walker in his second season. The lack of viable weapons for Walker has been the primary concern, he has one receiver, a couple of running backs in Jahad Thomas and Kenneth Harper and that's about it.

Even considering the circumstances Walker has not progressed in his second year the way that anyone in Cherry and White wanted him to. His numbers are down, way down, across the board. The biggest concerns are his yards per attempt which fell from an excellent 8.3 as a freshman to a below average 6.1 this year. His completion percentage has fallen from 60.8 to 53.2 and last years sterling 20 to 8 touchdown to int ratio is no 12 to 14. The lack of weapons hurts Walker and makes his life more difficult, but he isn't the guy he was a year ago. How he handles the newly competent looking Bearcats defense will be the determining factor in this game.

Cincinnati Offensive Line Temple Defensive Line
Rushing Yards Per Game 165.8 (65th) 172.6 (77th)
Rushing Yards Per Carry 4.81 (44th) 3.88 (41st)
Tackles For Loss Per Game 3.10 (1st) 6.70 (34th)
Sacks Per Game 1.10 (18th) 2.20 (55th)
Sack Rate 2.7% 6.9%
Pressure Rate 10.1% 10.3%
Cincinnati Defensive Line Temple Offensive Line
Rushing Yards Per Game 187.30 (91st) 113.00 (115th)
Rushing Yards Per Carry 4.80 (95th) 3.68 (100th)
Tackles For Loss Per Game 5.60 (82nd) 5.10 (42nd)
Sacks Per Game 2.70 (29th) 1.70 (40th)
Sack Rate 7.1% 4.8%
Pressure Rate 13.0% 8.9%

The match up to watch here is the same as it is for the game in general. The Bearcats offensive line against the Temple defensive line. Temple has a lot of really disruptive play makers on their front starting with Matt Ioannidis and Praise Martin-Oguike. The Owls do a phenomenal job of getting pressure on the quarterback so keeping Gunner Kiel upright is going to be of paramount importance.