Looking back: Big 12's best in turnovers

April, 16, 2013
4/16/13
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My compatriot over at the Pac-12 blog, Ted Miller, took a look at his conference's turnover data over the past three years earlier this month, and it's always an entertaining exercise.

How has the Big 12 looked the past three seasons?

Baylor's biggest help is it's at least broken even in every season since 2010.

Iowa State broke even in 2012, but still managed to reach a bowl game in 2011 despite having a minus-11 in turnover margin. The most ironic stat was that the Cyclones were plus-6 in 2010, the only season Iowa State failed to reach a bowl under Rhoads. Crazy.

Kansas hasn't had a positive turnover margin at any point over the last three seasons, which isn't a huge surprise with just six wins over that span. KU hasn't turned the ball over a ton throughout that stretch, but the defense hasn't been able to force enough to break even. It had just 12 back in 2010, but forced 20 last season.

Conversely, Kansas State's been well into the positive in every season, including a crazy plus-20 last season, plus-12 in 2011 and plus-4 in 2010. It's no surprise that K-State has won double digit games in the same seasons that K-State had a double-digit positive turnover margin.

Oklahoma has been in the negative in each of the past two seasons, but its overall mark is positive because of a plus-14 in 2010. Guess what? It's also the last time the Sooners won an outright Big 12 title.

Oklahoma State has the reputation as the Big 12's best in this stat, but a tough 2012 campaign means Kansas State took the Big 12 title for turnover margin over the past three years. Oklahoma State's +21 season in 2011 is the best single-season mark of any Big 12 team over that span. But the team had issues with turnovers and didn't force many in 2012. Oklahoma State broke even last season, but considering how often the lack of forced turnovers came up, that's telling of how good OSU has been in that stat lately.

TCU has been in the positive with single digits every season, but two of those came in the Mountain West Conference, so take that into account.

Texas' minus-7 overall looks worse than it really is. That 2010 disaster that featured 17 Garrett Gilbert interceptions meant a minus-12 number for the Longhorns. That had them ahead of just three teams in college football in that stat that season. It broke even in turnovers in 2011 and was plus-5 last season.

Oh, Texas Tech. How in the world did the Red Raiders win eight games in 2012 with a minus-13 turnover margin? That's even with a much-improved defense. That's the single worse mark of any team in the Big 12 over the past three seasons, but it was near breaking even in both 2011 and 2010 with very poor defenses.

West Virginia hasn't had a big standout season, but managed a plus-7 last year in its first turn through the Big 12.

Here are the total rankings:

Total turnover margin (2010-2012 seasons)
  • Kansas State: +36
  • Oklahoma State: +33
  • TCU: +14
  • Oklahoma: +8
  • Baylor: +7
  • West Virginia: +3
  • Iowa State: -5
  • Texas: -7
  • Texas Tech: -15
  • Kansas: -16

Six Big 12 teams are in the black in the stat over the past three years, but Kansas State and Oklahoma State are in a league of their own in the last few years. We've seen the results on the field with both logging Big 12 titles and a double-digit win season in the last three years. TCU's been solid, but I'm betting that number is inflated a bit with lesser competition and lots of games against overmatched opponents forced to throw the ball late in games.

Texas Tech's slide hasn't been solely chalked up to turnovers, but you know it hasn't helped. I'd say the exact same about Texas. Iowa State has overachieved in the past few years, but how much better could it be if it starts forcing a few more turnovers and committing a few less?
What else stuck out to you?

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