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Big 12 efficiency rankings: A salute to Oklahoma State's defense


Oklahoma State has resuscitated its season with a couple of impressive victories, both 34-27, over Iowa State and TCU. And the Cowboys have done it with defense.

That’s right. Defense. OSU has the ninth-best offense in the Big 12, using conference games and scoring efficiency. Ninth. The school of Zac Robinson and Brandon Weeden and Mason Rudolph has not maintained its offensive status in the first year of the Spencer Sanders era. And that’s OK. A learning curve is to be expected, and OSU has been much better than its last offense-rebuilding season of 2014.

And the Cowboys’ offensive efficiency of .308 isn’t that far from most of the Big 12. Kansas State ranks fifth at .349, while the likes of Texas Tech, Baylor and Kansas are barely ahead of the Cowboys. So don’t expect OSU to stay mired in ninth.

But for now, the Cowboys’ defense is performing at a higher level. OSU’s defense is ranked sixth in the Big 12, with opposing offenses scoring at a .329 clip. And Jim Knowles’ unit is closer to second (Iowa State .293) than to seventh (Texas Tech .388), so that’s a solid performance.

The good news for OSU is that after this off week, the Cowboys play the Big 12’s worst defense (Kansas) and worst offense (West Virginia). KU and WVU come by those distinctions easily. No other team contends for that status.

Even the College Football Playoff committee took notice, ranking the 6-3 Cowboys 23rd this week in its initial rankings. So things are looking up for OSU football.

Here are the weekly Big 12 efficiency rankings. Remember, they are based on a unit’s fundamental job. How often does the offense score? How often does the defense keep the opponent from scoring? I count touchdowns as full credit, field goals as half credit.

OFFENSE

1. Oklahoma .571: The Sooners’ standards are so high, that four touchdowns and four field goals against Kansas State in 11 possessions is considered an off game.

2. Texas .400: Good thing the Longhorns found a quarterback and a high-powered offense. With that defense, this season could have been really disastrous.

3. Iowa State .367: We sometimes think of ISU’s defense as the lynchpin of the Matt Campbell renaissance, but the Cyclone offense has been really good this season.

4. Kansas State .351: Here come the Wildcats. That offense looks like vintage Bill Snyder.

5. TCU .349: Wait, what? The Horned Frogs have a decent offense? With a true freshman quarterback? It makes no sense.

6. Texas Tech .325: The Red Raiders miss quarterback Alan Bowman. They no longer are a plug-and-play program.

7. Baylor .317: Just mediocre offense, and the Bears still are undefeated.

8. Kansas .314: The Jayhawks lit up Texas and Texas Tech, but they still have scoring issues.

9. Oklahoma State .308: When the Cowboys don’t commit turnovers, they’re actually really good on offense.

10. West Virginia .203: Thirteen possessions vs. Baylor, seven offensive points.

DEFENSE

1. Baylor .206: That good ol’ Baylor line now refers to defense. Iowa State and Kansas State had 25 offensive possessions combined against Baylor and scored 33 points total.

2. Iowa State .293: Excellent test for Jalen Hurts and the Sooners on Saturday; not that OU’s offense needs to be tested.

3. TCU .313: Gary Patterson’s defense is for real. Which is redundant.

4. Oklahoma .314: For all the talk about the collapse at K-State and the lack of turnovers, this remains really good defense. Keep this up, and OU fans will be quite happy with the result.

5. Kansas State .325: The good news for the Wildcats – the Sooners are in the past, so this number likely will improve.

6. Oklahoma State .329: This is a good number. The previous three seasons, a .329 defensive rating would rank fourth in the Big 12.

7. Texas Tech .388: The Red Raiders are starting to slip. But West Virginia could be a balm.

8. Texas .396: I see no balm for the Longhorns.

9. West Virginia .400: Egads. This has been a rough first year for the Neal Brown era.

10. Kansas .515: Les Miles has invigorated the KU offense. Now it’s time to do the same with the defense.

Projections

A fun tool with these ratings is the score projections they provide. Not so much that they predict winners – football novices can predict the winners of most college football games – but they can give you a ballpark estimate on what kind of games will be played. How close, how high-scoring. Here are the games for Saturday:

Iowa State at Oklahoma: Sooners 34-28. Ooh. That would be a little close for comfort.

Baylor at TCU: Bears 27-24. This might be a little high-scoring. The projection model doesn’t really spit out too many low scores.

Kansas State at Texas: Wildcats 32-31. Seems right on target.

Texas Tech at West Virginia: Red Raiders 31-27. Sounds as good as anything else.

Related Photos
TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) is brought down by Oklahoma State cornerback Rodarius Williams (8) and defensive end Trace Ford, rear, in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) is brought down by Oklahoma State cornerback Rodarius Williams (8) and defensive end Trace Ford, rear, in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-17c6892427922ae038345ac812aa4f72.jpg" alt="Photo - TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) is brought down by Oklahoma State cornerback Rodarius Williams (8) and defensive end Trace Ford, rear, in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)" title="TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) is brought down by Oklahoma State cornerback Rodarius Williams (8) and defensive end Trace Ford, rear, in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)"><figcaption>TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) is brought down by Oklahoma State cornerback Rodarius Williams (8) and defensive end Trace Ford, rear, in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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