OU football: Big 12 efficiency, Sooners finish first in offense, sixth in defense
The polls are closed. All the precincts have reported. And OU’s offense remains as historic as ever.
My 2019 Big 12 efficiency ratings are complete, with the completion of the conference schedule. And the Sooners’ offensive dominance virtually matches the offensive dominance of a year ago.
Which is impressive, since the Big 12 had a defensive uprising this season.
I rank offenses and defenses based on how often they do their primary 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. And I use conference games only, so that it’s an equitable study.
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Since Lincoln Riley’s arrival, OU’s offensive efficiency has paced the Big 12. But only in the last two years have the Sooners been far above all comers. In 2015, OU’s efficiency was .496 and runnerup Baylor’s was .455. In 2016, OU’s efficiency was .531 and runnerup OSU’s was .436. In 2017, OU’s efficiency was .542 and runnerup OSU’s was .467.
But in 2018, the Sooners got even better – way better. OU’s offensive efficiency was .624, with runnerup West Virginia at a robust, but still far behind, .447.
And in 2019, the Jalen Hurts offense slipped – but so did all the Big 12. OU’s efficiency is .536 (about the same as the ’17 Baker Mayfield offense), while runnerup Texas is .367.
Defensively, Baylor is the 2019 king by a wide margin. Baylor’s defensive efficiency number is .216 (offenses’ rating vs. Baylor), more than 100 percentage points ahead of runner up Kansas State (.319).
OSU finished fourth in defense, at .321, so the Cowboys were this close to second. OU finished sixth in defense, at .337, in a tight clump from second through sixth.
Here are the rankings:
1. Oklahoma .536: People who are frustrated by this offense not being as productive as the 2018 offense have it all backward. The Kyler Murray offense was unreal. I still need to go back and check the 1971 Sooners. It’s possible that Kyler Murray’s offense was better than the Jack Mildren offense of 1971.
2. Texas .367: Nice rally for the Longhorns, which I guess is what happens when you finish with Texas Tech.
3. Iowa State .367: The Cyclones had a disappointing finale, scoring just 17 points at Kansas State.
4. Baylor .361: The Bears scored 61 points on Kansas. That’s how you rise from seventh to fourth in one week.
5. Texas Tech .344: All in all, a decent season offensively for the Red Raiders, considering quarterback Alan Bowman played zero Big 12 games.
6. TCU .338: Disappointing season for the Horned Frogs, but I blame defense more than offense.
7. Kansas State .327: This number surprised me. Sure seemed like K-State was solid offensively. But the Wildcats got a batch of kicking-game touchdowns. That’s probably what skewed the perception.
8. Oklahoma State .315: This number has got to be better. This is Oklahoma State. The Taylor Cornelius offense was at .387. If this offense had gone .387, OSU would be 10-2 at worst.
9. Kansas .273: Best offense by the Jayhawks since I started calculating efficiency in 2013. Probably the best since the Todd Reesing days of 2007-09.
10. West Virginia .214: The Mountaineers won more after the quarterback change to Jarrett Doege, but the offense wasn’t appreciably better.
1. Baylor .216: Last season, Iowa State was the defense king, at .279. So that’s a big jump. By the way, the best Big 12 defense of the last seven years? OSU in 2013 (.174).
2. Kansas State .319: So now we have an explanation for the Wildcats’ rise to a tie for third in the Big 12. Defense played well.
3. Iowa State .321: Third straight year the Cyclones’ defense has played well.
4. Oklahoma State .321: Excellent defense by the Cowboys. A virtual tie for second. That’s what Mike Gundy needed. Now, about that offense…
5. TCU .330: The Horned Frogs rarely fall far on defense. But this is a far fall for TCU. The Frogs were first or second in defensive efficiency from 2013-18.
6. Oklahoma .337: Maybe a disappointing finish, sixth, but not a disappointing number. The Sooners will dominate any year their defense gets off the field unscathed about two thirds of the time.
7. Texas .350: Not a good number for the Longhorns. When your offense is .367 and your defense is .350, you’re little better than .500. And UT finished 5-4 in the conference.
8. Texas Tech .389: The Red Raiders got lit up all season long.
9. West Virginia .390: The Mountaineers were rebuilding under first-year coach Neal Brown. But next season must be better, else WVU will be a massive disappointment.
10. Kansas .505: No surprise.
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. So here goes on the Big 12 Championship Game:
Oklahoma vs. Baylor: Sooners 30-28. These projections have been fairly close on OU games. They had the Sooners 36-29 over TCU; it was 28-24. The projections said OU 32-27 over Baylor; it was 34-31. The projections said 34-28 over Iowa State; it was 42-41. So I’ll stick with 30-28.