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Where does Oklahoma State sit in national efficiency rankings?

These numbers tell a clear story for the 10th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys.

NCAA Football: Baylor at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

As we turn the corner and look toward the second half of the season, there are many storylines to dissect for this team. We’ve learned a lot about the Cowboys as the season has progressed, but questions remain.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at where Oklahoma State stacks up across the Big 12, and nationally, in terms of team efficiency rankings. Team efficiency is a solid way to figure out where a team is at.

Here’s how ESPN defines their efficiency rankings:

Team efficiencies are based on the point contributions of each unit to the team's scoring margin, on a per-play basis. The values are adjusted for strength of schedule and down-weighted for "garbage time" (based on win probability). The scale goes from 0 to 100; higher numbers are better and the average is roughly 50 for all categories. Efficiencies update daily during the season.

With these numbers, we can easily judge a team’s output compared to it’s quality of schedule. Let’s see how the Cowboys stack up. These numbers are up to date as of the win over Baylor on Saturday. I’ll break them down by group.

Team Efficiency Rankings (national rankings in parenthesis):

Offense: 95.4 (2)

Defense: 69.7 (34)

Special Teams: 15.7 (130, last in NCAA Division-1)

Overall: 87.8 (6)

Offense: No surprise here, as the Cowboys continue their offensive dominance. Right now, they rank second in the country in offensive efficiency, behind rival Oklahoma.

Last week, they set a school record with 747 total yards of offense. The week before that, they put up 597 yards. They’re amassing yards and points in bunches. To put this into perspective, they currently sit at 95.4. In 2011, they ended the season at 88.1. Impressive numbers there.

Defense: The Cowboys are in good shape on the defensive side of the ball. After a disappointing two games against TCU and Texas Tech, they put together their best performance of the season against Baylor, allowing only 16 points and 387 yards of offense. The 2011 Oklahoma State team ended the season with a 78.4 defensive efficiency rating, nearly a full ten points better than where the 2017 defense currently sits.

That being said, the Cowboys currently rank 3rd in the Big 12 in defensive efficiency, and that’s reason to be optimistic about the future.

Special Teams: Hooooo, boy. I can’t imagine there are many stats out there that could have this Oklahoma State team rank dead last in, but we’ve at least found one. The Cowboys, after all of the muffed punts, missed field goals and lack of production anywhere else, rank dead last in FBS in special teams efficiency at an abysmal 15.4. We knew the special teams were bad, but it’s hard to imagine they’ve been this bad.

We could go into all of the potential reasons for this, but the reality is at some point, this is going to catch up to Oklahoma State. You don’t win the Big 12, let alone crash the College Football Playoff ranking dead last in such an important category.

We talk all the time about how important special teams is to winning football games. This hasn’t caught up to the Pokes yet, but if they don’t fix something, it could bite them sooner rather than later.

Overall: What a story these numbers tell.

The offense is unbelievable, the defense is better than advertised, and the special teams are worse than we thought. The offense putting up a 95.4 efficiency ranking is astounding. While the defense isn’t exactly stellar, it might be good enough to help the Cowboys get where they want to be. Of course, that all could come down to a missed field goal here, or a muffed punt there. If they can find a way to shore up their special teams woes, they’ll be right in the mix in December.