Tramel: Big 12 efficiency ratings show OU offense, West Virginia defense tops
The Big 12’s best offense goes against the Big 12’s best defense Saturday night in Morgantown, West Virginia. Or does it?
According to my Big 12 efficiency ratings, the Sooners have the Big 12’s best offense, with a rating of .494. Which basically means OU averages about a touchdown every other possession.
That same metric shows West Virginia with the Big 12’s best defense, a rating of .175. Which means opponents are scoring about two touchdowns every 12 possessions against the Mountaineers.
But numbers can be deceiving. WVU has not played OU or Iowa State, and those are far and away the Big 12’s best offenses. A good defense can get torched by a great offense. OSU’s defensive rating was .197 a week ago, going into the Bedlam game. After the Sooners’ 41-13 rout, OSU’s defensive rating soared to .247.
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So what will become of West Virginia’s defense? That’s why we play the games. If the Mountaineers slow the Sooners, then WVU’s defense is beyond legitimate. If the Mountaineers get torched, well, that’s life in a conference with OU.
Let’s get to the rankings
1. Oklahoma .494: This remains OU’s worst offense of the Lincoln Riley. But it’s coming up fast. Baker Mayfield’s original 2015 offense had a .496 rating. His next two offenses were .531 and .542, and Jalen Hurts’ was .536. Only Kyler Murray’s .624 is out of reach for Spencer Rattler.
2. Iowa State .458: Wow. The Cyclones are getting better in a hurry. I’ve been charting efficiency ratings since the start of 2013, and the Cyclones’ previous best offense was .367.
3. Texas .333: The Big 12’s third-best offense. Some years, .333 would get you only seventh-best.
4. Oklahoma State .304: Basically, this number means if you get 10 possessions in a game (OSU had 11 in Bedlam), you’ll score 21 points. Not really up to the Cowboy standards.
5. Texas Tech .303: Speaking of standards. Even last year, Tech was a decent .344.
6. West Virginia .299: Amazing. Half the league is under .300.
7. TCU .271: The Horned Frogs seemed fairly potent early in the season, not so much anymore.
8. Kansas State .265: To open the season, K-State scored 38 and 31 points in a combined 22 possessions against OU and Texas Tech. That’s an offensive efficiency rating of .454. Since then, KSU’s offensive efficiency rating is .195.
9. Baylor .247: Easily the worst offense in Waco since before the Art Briles era.
10. Kansas .123: The Jayhawks are more than twice as inefficient as the next-worst Big 12 offense.
1. West Virginia .175: With OU and Iowa State coming up back-to-back, if the Mountaineers can stay below .250 after the next two games, that’s impressive.
2. Iowa State .228: Wow. The Cyclones are getting better and better. After opening the Big 12 season against OU and TCU, ISU’s defensive efficiency rating was .354. Now it’s dropping fast.
3. Oklahoma State .247: The Cowboys’ mentality after Bedlam should be like the Calvinist (predestination) who fell down the stairs and said, “Glad that’s over with.”
4. Oklahoma .287: Improving rapidly, with only mediocre defenses remaining.
5. TCU .295: The Horned Frogs almost always play solid defense. No different this year.
6. Kansas State .301: Another sign of how the Big 12 is changing. A defense with a .301 rating is second division.
7. Baylor .303: Not bad. Defense has not been the problem.
8. Texas .333: This is alarming. The eighth-best defense in the Big 12, and while UT still gets Kansas to inflate the value of the defense, the ‘Horns also play Iowa State, which will deflate the value of the defense.
9. Texas Tech .393: Not really close to being acceptable, even in Lubbock.
10. Kansas .494: The Kansas defense has the same rating as the OU offense. Which means, when those teams played, OU should have had about one touchdown for every two possessions. Go back to November in Norman. OU won 62-9. The Sooners had 13 possessions and scored eight touchdowns, with two field goals. So that was far better than 50 percent.
These numbers can be used to give us a ballpark estimate on what the weekend games could hold, averaging offensive efficiency with the opposing defensive efficiency and dividing by the average number of possessions. Here are the games this weekend:
Oklahoma at West Virginia: Sooners 28-25. It’s often close when OU goes to Morgantown, but it’s rarely this low-scoring.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State: Cowboys 31-25. This is a game OSU should win easily but probably won’t. Not easily.
Iowa State at Texas: Cyclones 33-23. Iowa State is riding high.
Kansas State at Baylor: Bears 24-23. Surprise. Sometimes, the method projects an upset. Could happen in Waco.
TCU at Kansas: Horned Frogs 34-19. KU hopes the game can stay this competitive.