Big 12 efficiency ratings: OU defense ranks 8th
Texas tailback Keaontay Ingram runs through an OU tackle Saturday. (AP Photo)
I always start my Big 12 efficiency ratings after three weeks of conference play. I use only conference games, because frankly I don’t care how a team does against one of the Dakotas or Texas-San Antonio.
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So now we’ve reached three weeks of conference play – save for TCU and Texas Tech, who meet Thursday night in Fort Worth – and it’s time to measure the most important thing an offense or defense can do.
Forget yards. They are more distorted than a North Koreans newscast.
Forget points per game. No games are created equal. OSU and Iowa State each had 15 full offensive possessions in their game last week. Texas had seven full offensive possessions on Sept. 29 against Kansas State.
The best way to measure an offense or a defense is in how often they get off the field having done their job.
An offense’s job is to score, preferably touchdowns.
A defense’s job is to prevent a score.
So for many years I have rated the Big 12 units against each other. It’s apples to apples. Everybody has 88.9 percent of the same schedule, the only difference being that Kansas’ offense doesn’t play against Kansas’ defense, for example, and vice versa.
I will update the ratings every week. And it’s quite the interesting week to start the rankings, after OU’s 48-45 loss to Texas that ranks as one of the worst defensive performances in recent times for the Sooners. Where will OU rank defensively?
I list the rankings by percentage. How often does an offense score? I give full credit for a touchdown and half credit for a field goal. Same with the defense. I penalize fully for allowing a touchdown, half for allowing a field goal.
It’s not a perfect system. A team could miss a 21-yard field goal. Another team could make a 57-yard field goal. Neither defense deserves what then comes. But those instances are rare.
The offensive ratings tell you the efficiency of that offense. The defensive ratings tell you the efficiency of opposing offenses. It’s an invaluable tool.
1. Oklahoma .614: This is stunning offense. Baker Mayfield’s 2017 offense was out-of-this-world effective. So was the 2016 OU offense. Those ratings were .542 and .531. This OU offense is .614 and has already gone against two of the better defenses in the league in Iowa State and Texas.
2. West Virginia .431: This is a great number for Will Grier and the gang. It just pales when compared to OU.
3. Texas Tech .423: The Red Raiders are back in the business of producing big-time offenses, and they’ve done it with two different quarterbacks.
4. Texas .394: The Longhorns have a very effective offense. How long will the OU debacle carry Texas’ number to great heights?
5. Baylor .392: Charlie Brewer has led the Bears to very good offense. This number would give Baylor a chance at a solid season.
6. Oklahoma State .3875: Not great, and not even good by OSU’s high standards, but still solid. Right there with Texas and Baylor.
7. Iowa State .379: Watch out for the Cyclones. If ISU can produce points like this, it will win a bunch of games.
8. Kansas State .250: Egads. The Wildcats usually do much better than this.
9. Kansas .235: Surprise. KU is not last in the league in offense, though the Jayhawks might as well be.
10. TCU .1875: The Horned Frogs have not been good at all in two games. Lost to Texas 31-16 and beat Iowa State 17-14. Doesn’t matter how many possessions you get, that’s not enough to win in modern football.
1. West Virginia .243: Solid defense. If the Mountaineers keep this up, they absolutely will be Big 12 title contenders. WVU already has played Tech.
2. TCU .261: Gary Patterson’s calling card. Quality defense. TCU defense and Oklahoma offense are the Big 12’s most consistent units.
3. Texas Tech .3125: Wow. Tech never is this high on defense. The Red Raiders put the clamps on OSU, which helps. We’ll see if they can keep it up.
4. Texas .314: The Longhorns rank this high and have OU in the rearview mirror. That’s nothing but good news for the UT defense.
5. Kansas State .375: Anything higher than .333 tends to be shaky defense. So the Wildcats are teetering.
6. Iowa State .386: The Cyclones were much better last year. But after Saturday, they will have played OU, OSU and Tech, traditionally the best offenses in the league.
7. Oklahoma State .436: Really bad defense. Really bad. The Cowboys ranked fourth each of the last two years, with numbers of .336 (2017) and .330 (2016). And Mike Gundy fired defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. Buyer beware.
8. Oklahoma .444: The Sooners do not rank last in Big 12 defense. Amazing, considering they’re giving up a touchdown on average 44 percent of the time they take the field. Last year, OU’s defense was bad and ranked sixth, at .362.
9. Baylor .456: The Bears don’t have good defense at all. Didn’t last year. Don’t this year.
10. Kansas .471: Defense is supposed to be the strength of the Jayhawk team, but you couldn’t tell it by this.
Using these numbers can give you a general idea of a final score, measuring average possessions per game and points per possession. These projections don’t factor in homefield advantage or kicking games or momentum or a defensive coordinator getting fired. They’re just generalities.
OSU at Kansas State: Cowboys 32-28. Seems about right. OSU-KSU always is close.
Texas Tech at TCU: Red Raiders 29-21. This will be an interesting test for both teams. I’m not sure which squad is best.
Baylor at Texas: Longhorns 33-30. Oh man, a game like this would be great. And a further indictment of the OU defense.
West Virginia at Iowa State: Mountaineers 34-25. This would be quite a nice win for WVU.