Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
For my regular readers, I've mentioned my respect for the work of baseball sabermetrician Bill James and some of the information he's able to glean by delving deeply into numbers.
While football isn't as statistically rich as baseball, there is still some information that you find if you are willing to dig deeply enough for it.
Coaches have always told me that one of the the most important qualities that a top team can do is to consistently convert third-down plays and stopping an opponent on third down.
It got me to thinking that you could come up with a statistic if you compared the difference between the offensive and defensive third-down numbers. And I wondered if my theorem would correlate when judging the relative success of a team.
Here's how the Big 12 looks through games of last week. And my idea holds up as the seven teams that are most likely in my opinion to make a bowl trip rank in the top seven places
Team Off. Third Down % Def. Third Down % Diff W-L
Texas Tech 56.3 32.5 +23.8 9-0
Texas 55.9 37.7 +18.2 8-1
Oklahoma 46.4 30.0 +16.4 8-1
Kansas 52.0 40.2 +11.8 6-3
Oklahoma State 46.7 35.2 +11.5 8-1
Nebraska 49.2 38.1 +11.1 5-4
Missouri 52.1 42.0 +10.1 7-2
Kansas State 43.0 44.1 -1.1 4-5
Texas A&M 50.4 52.4 -2.0 4-5
Colorado 37.4 39.8 -2.4 4-5
Iowa State 35.4 46.3 -10.9 2-7
Baylor 34.3 48.9 -14.6 3-6