Live updates - Oklahoma coronavirus confirmed cases: 1,252; 46 deadHow to make your own face mask to help stop the spread of the coronavirus

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Big 12 efficiency ratings: Lincoln Riley is right, defenses are getting better

Related coverage: Bedlam football

Bedlam football: A look at one-off Bedlam QB matchups Bedlam football: Why Chuba Hubbard and CeeDee Lamb aren't just elite but electric OSU football: Cowboys should be loaded next season Betting on Brown: Cowboy quarterback Dru Brown gambled on his own talent in journey to OSU

Lincoln Riley says Big 12 defenses are getting stronger. The numbers bear him out.

According to my efficiency rankings, this season, Iowa State has the No. 2 offense, with a .387 efficiency. Last season, OSU’s offensive efficiency was .387 – and the Cowboys ranked fourth, behind OU (.624), West Virginia (.447) and Texas (.413).

In 2017, most of the Big 12 was moderate on offense. TCU ranked third and Iowa State ranked seventh, and their numbers ranged from .335 to .319. But OU was at .542 and OSU was at .467.

In 2016, five teams had efficiency numbers of .380 or better, including OU (.531), OSU (.436) and Texas Tech (.406) above .400.

So while OU’s offense still posts kooky-high numbers (a .524 efficiency, which means the Sooners are good for a touchdown more than half of their possessions), the rest of the league has fallen back offensively.

Mike Gundy referred to OSU’s 20-13 victory over West Virginia last Saturday as an old-fashioned game, and in many ways it was. Ball-control. Field position. Kicking game. There have been more games like that in the Big 12 this season.

Here are the efficiency rankings going into the final weekend of regular-season play. 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, and divide by possessions.

Offense

1. Oklahoma .528: Here’s how to best gauge this number. The Jalen Hurts offense is significantly behind the Kyler Murray offense, a little bit behind Baker Mayfield’s 2017 offense, about the same as Mayfield’s 2016 offense and ahead of Mayfield’s 2015 offense.

2. Iowa State .387: Matt Campbell and Brock  Purdy have a good thing going. The second-best offense in the Big 12 is the high-rent district.

3. Texas Tech .354: Not the high numbers from the Red Raiders’ Air Raid glory days, but not bad this season considering Tech has played without quarterback Alan Bowman.

4. Texas .345: The Texas offense has been going down down down. The Longhorns were at least .400 until two weeks ago.

5. TCU .338: With a freshman quarterback in Max Duggan, Gary Patterson has to be happy with this number. It’s the Horned Frogs’ highest since the Trevone Boykin days of 2015.

6. Kansas State .330: Just so-so. But better than last season, when K-State finished at .294. 

7. Baylor .321: The Bears’ lack of production is bewildering. Charlie Brewer is a good quarterback. Baylor has playmakers. But they don’t score big.

8. Oklahoma State .318: For all the optimism over OSU football, and I’m driving the bandwagon, this is an alarming number. OSU’s worst offense in years and years.

9. Kansas .300: Lots of offensive momentum early, but that has curtailed.

10. West Virginia .214: Now you know why WVU changed quarterbacks.

Defense

1. Baylor .234: The Bears play big-time defense. Opponents find the end zone, on average, less than a quarter of their chances.

2. Oklahoma State .298: Just getting better and better. But now comes the Sooners, the acid test.

3. Iowa State .321: A team that is second in offense and third in defense should have a better conference record than 5-3, but that’s what happens when you lose a bunch of close games.

4. TCU .330: Solid defense. Patterson would no doubt like it to be better, but the Frogs are about to play West Virginia, so TCU could rise in the rankings.

5. Kansas State .333: K-State is so-so on offense, so-so on defense. If we did a kicking-game efficiency, the Wildcats would be No. 1.

6. Oklahoma .342: By recent Sooner standards, this isn’t a terrible number. By a more long-term view, this needs to get better.

7. Texas .360: Not a good defense, but not downright awful. The Longhorns should be able to build.

8. Texas Tech .368: The Red Raiders had been playing better defense in recent years. This is a little a disappointing.

9. West Virginia .390: When it rains, it pours.

10. Kansas .489: What’s bad about this number is what I led with. In this season of declining Big 12 offense, why is KU’s defense regressing?

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 this weekend:

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State: Sooners 35-29. Strangely enough, I think Bedlam will be a little lower scoring than this. But you never know.

Iowa State at Kansas State: Cyclones 29-26. Isn’t this about what we ought to expect between the little engines that could.

Baylor at Kansas: Bears 33-22. Baylor would take this right now and be happy to get to Arlington unscathed.

Texas Tech at Texas: Longhorns 31-30. OK. Sign me up for this one on Thanksgiving Friday.

West Virginia at TCU: Horned Frogs 30-23. I don’t see the Mountaineers scoring this much, but you never know.

Related Photos
Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts (1) starts a play during an NCAA football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Oklahoma won 28-24. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts (1) starts a play during an NCAA football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Oklahoma won 28-24. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-2d55d8287d4aac22fae506cc73d70f2b.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts (1) starts a play during an NCAA football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Oklahoma won 28-24. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts (1) starts a play during an NCAA football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Oklahoma won 28-24. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts (1) starts a play during an NCAA football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Oklahoma won 28-24. [Bryan Terry/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 ›

Comments