Big 12 football: Offensive and defensive efficiency
I haven’t checked back in a few weeks on method for rating offenses and defenses. I think I called it offensive efficiency and defensive percentage, but I like the word efficiency better, so I’ll call them both efficiency.
Remember, my feeling is that the best way to judge an offense or a defense is to measure how often it’s successful. Success is not yards. Success is scoring, or keeping the opponent from scoring. And with the wide range of styles of play in college football, some offenses and defenses have many more opportunities than others.
So an offense that gets 10 possessions in a game and scores three touchdowns, that’s a 30 percent efficiency. And I count field goals as a half, so two TDs and a field goal is 25 percent efficiency on 10 possessions. Same with a defense. Get 12 possessions, allow three touchdowns and a field goal, that’s 31/2 scores, which is 29 percent efficiency.
This is helpful in a lot of ways. It makes you realize that a team that wins a game 35-31 isn’t automatically being propped up by defense. If each team had 14 possessions, that’s not necessarily a high-scoring game. If each team had 11 possessions, that is a high-scoring game.
Generally, I’ve found that any number in the 40s is fantastic offense (and horrific defense). Any number in the 20s is poor offense and fantastic defense (offensive numbers tend to be generally higher than defensive). The 30s is sort of middle ground.
Anyway, we’re eight or nine games into the Big 12 season, so let’s take a look at the Big 12 rankings.
1. Oklahoma State 43.4 percent
2. Nebraska 42.4
3. Baylor 40.7
4. Oklahoma 39.5
5. Kansas State 37.1
6. Missouri 35.6
7. Texas A&M 33.0
8. Texas Tech 32.4
9. Texas 27.0
10. Iowa State 25.2
11. Colorado 23.9
12. Kansas 19.8
There are several interesting nuggets in those numbers, starting with OSU. The Cowboys have played enough games, the schedules balance out enough over time, that the conclusion is indisputable. The OSU offense is superb; 43.4 percent is just fantastic offense. Maybe later in the year I’ll run numbers on every good offense in America. I can’t imagine too many teams with a better offense. Oregon, probably. But I don’t know who else.
Nebraska’s offense has been remarkably productive. When you think of the Cornhuskers’ 2009 offense, and you think of their 2010 offense, it makes you think more highly of Taylor Martinez. I’ve been hard on Martinez, but he’s engineered an offensive revival in Lincoln.
It’s amazing to see A&M, Tech and Texas rank 7-8-9. Everyone has been talking about the Aggies’ defensive problems for years, but A&M’s problems stem from offense. The Aggies and Sooners play tonight in College Station; A&M has 21 offensive turnovers this season, the Sooners have eight. Maybe Ryan Tannehill will fix that problem for the Ags, but their problem is not hard to find.
And Tech’s offense, at 32.4 percent, has taken a mighty fall. The difference between OSU’s 43.4 percent and Tech’s 32.4 percent could be a touchdown a game, which is huge.
Texas? What’s amazing about the Longhorns’ 27 percent is that three Big 12 offenses are worse. Who knew you could play worse offense than UT has played? Does that give you an idea of how bad Colorado and Kansas are?
1. Missouri 18.7 percent
2. Texas A&M 19.9
3. Nebraska 20.6
4. Oklahoma 21.3
5. Texas 23.5
6. Oklahoma State 25.9
7. Baylor 28.3
8. Kansas State 30.6
9. Colorado 32.3
10. Texas Tech 33.3
11. Iowa State 34.2
12. Kansas 39.2
Missouri’s defense is legit. The Tigers have played OU, Nebraska, A&M, Illinois and San Diego State. That’s a decent schedule, and the Tigers rank first in the league.
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