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Big 12 efficiency rankings: OSU's offense has tons of possessions

In seven Big 12 games this season, OSU’s offense has had 99 possessions. That’s 14.1 per game. That’s a big number.

How big? It’s way more possessions than any other Big 12 offense.

Texas has had 88 possessions. West Virginia and Texas Tech each have had 87 possessions. TCU has had 86 possessions. Iowa State 85. Kansas 83. Baylor 82. OU 78. Kansas State 77.

The Cowboys have had 21 more possessions in conference play than have the Sooners. That’s three per game.

Why is that useful information? Because it shows the real performance of the Cowboy offense.

OSU ranks fifth in scoring offense for conference games, 31.0 points per game. Kansas State ranks eighth, at 25.6 points per game.

But do the Cowboys really have a better offense than K-State? OSU has had 22 more possessions than have the Wildcats. K-State’s offense clearly has been more efficient than have the Cowboys’.

Conversely, Big 12 scoring defense shows OSU fifth, at 29.4 points per game. OU ranks fourth, at 28.1 points per game.

But no way has OU’s defense been stingier. The Sooners have defended 82 possessions. The Cowboys have defended 95 possessions. That’s virtually two more per game.

Why so many more OSU possessions? Well, it makes sense. The Cowboys rely on the big play. Boom or bust. Big plays or turnovers or quick punts. Not a lot of long drives for OSU this season.

And that’s precisely why I’ve been doing the Big 12 efficiency ratings for seven years. Neither yards nor raw points tell the real story.

An offense’s job is to score every chance it gets. A defense’s job is to keep the offense from scoring, every chance it gets. Thus, the efficiency ratings.

How many times an offense scores in relation to possessions? How often does a defense get off the field without allowing a score? Touchdowns count full, field goals count a half.

Here are the latest rankings:

OFFENSE

1. Oklahoma .551: I know that OU’s offense was partly to blame for the early troubles in Waco. But against the Big 12’s best defense, the Sooner offense produced four touchdowns and two field goals in 10 possessions. The expectations have become higher than a Steven Spielberg film.

2. Texas .375: The Longhorn offense has been inching down. In the five-year Lincoln Riley era, this is the biggest gap between OU and the next-best offense.

3. Iowa State .371: Kudos to the Cyclones. They could end up with the second-best offense in the Big 12.

4. Texas Tech .356: Not bad, considering the Red Raiders haven’t had their quarterback (Alan Bowman) in conference games.

5. TCU .349: A TCU offense this efficient should produce a better record, but the Horned Frog defense hasn’t been its usual self.

6. Kansas State .331: In 20 possessions the last two games, the Wildcats have produced four touchdowns and three field goals. Not good.

7. Baylor .323: Baylor’s offense looked better than this those first 20 minutes against OU. But not the last 40.

8. Oklahoma State .313: Does any number in Big 12 football surprise you more? The Cowboys have the eighth-best offense in the Big 12.

9. Kansas .289: KU’s offense at least isn’t out of the mainstream.

10. West Virginia .213: Maybe new quarterback Jarrett Doege can lift the Mountaineers.

DEFENSE

1. Baylor .250: Clearly the Big 12’s best defense. The Bears have gone through the Sooner gauntlet and weren’t embarrassed.

2. Oklahoma State .305: Fabulous job by Jim Knowles. The Cowboys have the Big 12’s second-best defense.

3. Iowa State .313: The Cyclones have the third-best defense and the third-best offense, which should equate to a conference record better than 4-3.

4. TCU .326: This is a solid number, but the Frogs usually are better. And now they’re about to play OU. 

5. Kansas State .333: Solid. Nothing special. Nothing bad. 

6. Oklahoma .354: Getting a little bit better. That’s about all you can ask for.

7. Texas .365: Ouch. If Texas’ defense is worse than OU’s, the Longhorns are in trouble.

8. Texas Tech .368: The Red Raiders could rise a little.  

9. West Virginia .392: The Mountaineers picked a bad year to have a porous defense – or maybe it was a good year. Get it out of the way when the offense stinks, too.

10. Kansas .488: Not good.

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:

TCU at OU: Sooners 36-29. If it’s this close, I don’t know if OU fans would be able to handle it.

OSU at West Virginia: Cowboys 32-23. These numbers primarily are based on Spencer Sanders quarterbacking OSU and Austin Kendall quarterbacking West Virginia. Who knows what will happen with Dru Brown vs. Jarrett Doege?

Texas at Baylor: Bears 29-27. I expect a similar battle royale in Waco.

Kansas at Iowa State: Cyclones 36-26. This one doesn’t feel like it will be this close.

Kansas State at Texas Tech: Wildcats 29-28. You know, I’ve never adjusted these ratings or projections by home/road. If I did, this might be 29-28 Tech.

Related Photos
Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) reacts after a play in the first quarter during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the Kansas Jayhawks at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. OSU won 31-13. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) reacts after a play in the first quarter during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the Kansas Jayhawks at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. OSU won 31-13. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d819e83ef29fd8501dce417ff7aaebf1.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) reacts after a play in the first quarter during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the Kansas Jayhawks at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. OSU won 31-13. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]" title="Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) reacts after a play in the first quarter during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the Kansas Jayhawks at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. OSU won 31-13. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) reacts after a play in the first quarter during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the Kansas Jayhawks at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. OSU won 31-13. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]</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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