Tech leads conference in third-down percentage difference

November, 7, 2008
11/07/08
8:30
PM ET

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                       

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