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Stats might be for losers, but in hindsight they are often 20/20.

A look at the difference between full season and conference only stats reveals whose non-conference schedule blew the most smoke up our collective asses.

The big broohaha between Gundy and Holder seemed to center around scheduling...Gundy would rather have mid-majors and cupcakes, and definitely not start the season with a "major" opponent.

Holder wants to make money, which means TV, and that generally means some kind of "marquee" matchup.

Given that, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the difference between teams categorical rankings for full season stats and conference only stats in the Big 12.

A little explanation first...

All stats come from I used all categories that were directly offense or defense. Special teams categories were ignored, as well as any category where offense and defense could not be clearly separated out (ex: penalties). I ranked the teams separately for offense and defense based on the average of the team's ranking in each of the following categories:

  • Scoring offense and defense
  • Rushing offense and defense
  • Passing offense and defense
  • Total offense and defense
  • Pass efficiency offense and defense
  • First downs for and against
  • 3rd down conversions for and against
  • 4th down conversion for and against
  • Sacks by and against
  • Red zone offense and defense

Since there are only 3 non-conference regular season games, and any bowl opponents are most likely to be more like a good (or bad) conference opponent, I presumed the differences wouldn't be huge. However, relative to each other, these numbers should paint a pretty clear picture. For me, anything 0.5 or higher was a significant change.

Let's start with defense.

Def Avg Full Conf Diff
OU 4.2 3.5 0.7
K State 3.4 3.0 0.4
W Virg 7.9 7.6 0.3
OSU 4.7 4.4 0.3
Kansas 7.5 7.3 0.2
Texas 5.7 5.8 -0.1
Baylor 7.8 7.9 -0.1
Iowa St 5.6 5.9 -0.3
Tx Tech 5.0 5.4 -0.4
TCU 3.0 3.5 -0.5

For the most part, teams were pretty consistent, with everyone registering less than a full ranking point change, and OU and TCU the only teams at 0.5 or higher. Relative to each other, Big 12 defenses didn't change much.

A couple of interesting notes from the "conference only" stats:

  • OSU led in red zone defense, holding opponents scoreless almost 27% of their trips inside the 20, and were tied for 3rd in fewest TD's allowed in the red zone at 22 (sure would like to have that last one of regulation back against OU);
  • Most deceiving stat...TCU at #9 in red zone defense. While their defense did allow a score 87.5% of trips inside the 20, they led the league in fewest trips allowed to the red zone (32), tied for 2nd in fewest scores allowed (28), and led the league in fewest red zone TD's allowed (15). Kansas State was the only other team with less than 22 (18).
  • 2nd most deceiving stat...OSU was 2nd in opponent's 3rd down conversions, allowing 37.3%. However, the Cowboys were 8th in 1st downs allowed. Breaking that down further, they allowed only 7 successful 3rd down conversions per game, but gave up on avg 25 first downs per game. Compare that to TCU, who gave up just under 5 successful 3rd down conversions and 19 first downs per game.
  • If your team had a red zone possession in Big 12 play, the likelihood of that possession ending in a TD was interesting:
1 TCU 46.9%
2 OSU 53.7%
3 K-State 54.5%
4 Iowa St 55.0%
5 Texas 61.2%
6 Tech 61.7%
7 Kansas 63.0%
8 OU 66.7%
9 W Virg 70.2%
10 Baylor 77.8%

No argument with 10. In fact, if your team scored in a red zone possession against Baylor, 9 out of 10 scores was a TD. In the end, I would argue that TCU had the best red zone defense. They only allowed 129 points in the red zone, and only one other team allowed less than 150 (KState, 129). Conversely, only 4 teams allowed more than 156 red zone points...Baylor & West Virginia (219), Texas (225), and Kansas (228).

From an OSU perspective, the Cowboys were tied for 3rd in fewest red zone points allowed in conference play with 156. That's an avg of 17 pts/gm in the red zone. That seems pretty good until you compare that to the 30 pts/gm they gave up in 2012 in Big 12 play (that includes special teams). That means 13 pts/gm on plays longer than 20 yards. Yuck. Compare to Texas, who gave up 25 pts/gm in the red zone, but only 34 pts/gm total, leaving 9 pts/gm on plays longer than 20 yards. KState was the best, allowing only 14 pts /gm in the red zone, and 9 pts/gm on plays longer than 20 yards.

Now for the offense. OSU fans look the other way...

Off Avg Full Conf Diff
OU 3.6 2.3 1.3
W Virg 5.0 4.3 0.7
TCU 8.3 7.7 0.6
Kansas 9.2 8.8 0.4
Iowa St 8.0 8.0 0.0
K State 4.6 4.8 -0.2
Baylor 2.7 3.0 -0.3
Texas 5.5 6.0 -0.5
Tx Tech 4.3 5.0 -0.7
OSU 3.2 4.8 -1.6


Obviously, if you take away Savannah State, the Cowboys wouldn't look this comparison. It's also obvious, I think, given the more complicated facets of offense in Big 12, that some teams just generally improve as the season goes along, regardless of the opponents.

A couple of notes...

  • OSU's big time offense didn't lead a single category in Big 12 play, and were 2nd in only 2...sacks allowed and red zone. Conversely, OU led in 5. The Cowboys' biggest drop was in scoring offense, going from 1st to 5th (I see you Savannah State). The Sooners were the only other team with a single change as large, going from 5th to 1st, also in scoring offense. Interestingly enough, not a single other team changed their ranking in scoring offense;
  • Again, I found the red zone #'s to be the most fascinating when broken down. If you wonder how OU destroyed Texas, just look at these numbers...the Longhorns gave up points on almost 92% of red zone possessions. OU scored points on exactly 90% of its red zone possessions in conference play;
  • Only 2 teams were worse than OSU (56.5%) in scoring TD's on red zone possessions...TCU (46.3) and Kansas (39.3). Also, only 3 teams scored fewer red zone TD's than OSU. The Cowboys averaged 2.8 RZ TD's/gm (total 26). TCU & Iowa State averaged 2.1/gm (19 total), and Kansas average a little over 1/gm (11 total);
  • Conversely (and predictably), the Cowboys led the Big 12 in red zone FGA's and FGM's. OSU made 15 out of 16 attempts. No other team made more than 12. Think the identity of our new kicker is of any importance?
  • If you need a TD when your team is in the red zone, you need your team to be...Iowa State. The Cyclones were the only Big 12 squad to record a TD in over 70% of their red zone possessions (76%).
  • Here's the list of teams ranked by % of red zone possessions that ended in a TD:
1 Iowa St 76.0%
2 OU 68.0%
t3 W Virg 67.4%
t3 Tech 67.4%
5 Texas 66.7%
6 Baylor 63.3%
7 K-State 62.7%
8 OSU 56.5%
9 TCU 46.3%
10 Kansas 39.3%

  • Based on what I saw with the defensive red zone #'s, your team needs to be producing around 13-14 pts/gm on plays longer than 20 yards, especially if your defense was giving up similar #'s. Well, six of the 10 teams averaged 13.6 pts/gm or more of this nature, which goes a long way to explaining the parity in the league. Baylor led the way with 18.4 pts/gm on scoring plays longer than 20 yards. OSU was 2nd at 16.5 pts/gm. Kansas was the only team that averaged less than 10 pts/gm, coming in at 6.0. How bad is that offense?
Overall, here are the rankings based on the average of all categories:

Comb Avg Full Conf Diff
OU 3.9 2.9 1.0
W Virg 6.5 6.0 0.5
Kansas 8.4 8.1 0.3
K State 4.0 3.9 0.1
TCU 5.7 5.6 0.1
Iowa St 6.8 7.0 -0.2
Baylor 5.3 5.5 -0.2
Texas 5.6 5.9 -0.3
Tx Tech 4.7 5.2 -0.6
OSU 4.0 4.6 -0.6

Then I decided it would be interesting to put the overall statistical average ranking for these categories (conf only) up against the final standings in the conference:

Comb Avg Conf
OU 2.9 t1
K State 3.9 t1
OSU 4.6 t3
Tx Tech 5.2 t5
Baylor 5.5 t5
TCU 5.6 t5
Texas 5.9 t3
W Virg 6.0 t5
Iowa St 7.0 9
Kansas 8.1 10

The only anomaly...Texas. Otherwise a spot on match.

That's about it. There are probably loads more of interesting numbers to be had from this, but I've had enough. The brain can only take so much number crunching. Guess that means I won't be heading over to contribute to Football Study Hall anytime soon...