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Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The joy of sacks: Best pass-rushing teams hover at Big 12's top

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Forget about yardage per play difference or third-down conversions or points scored. The best indicator of success in the Big 12 this season can be seen with a relatively simple statistic.

Look closely at sacks produced and determine that most of the teams that are at the top of the conference's statistics are at the top of the standings.

Here's a look at how the conference ranks in sacks and you'll see what I mean:

Big 12 Sacks at A Glance
TeamAvg.National RankW-L
1. Oklahoma 3.40 3 9-1
Texas 3.40 3 9-1
3. Texas Tech 2.60 23 10-0
Missouri 2.60 23 8-2
5. Kansas 2.20 41 6-4
6. Nebraska 2.10 45 6-4
7. Colorado 2.00 50 5-5
8. Kansas State 1.60 80 4-6
9. Baylor 1.50 90 3-7
Iowa State 1.50 90 2-8
11. Texas A&M 1.30 98 4-6
12. Oklahoma State1.10 104 8-2

Four of the five best teams are at the top of the list and six of the top seven correlate with sacks and on-the-field performance.

The only exception is Oklahoma State, which is a little bit different because of its abilities running the ball. That proficiency has helped the Cowboys dominate time of possession which has helped them beat most of their lesser foes and also spring an upset at Missouri when the Tigers struggled with turnovers.

But Oklahoma State's lack of pass rush was magnified when the Cowboys played Texas Tech last week. If it had been a fight, it would have been stopped in the middle of the third quarter, considering the way that Graham Harrell was picking apart the beleaguered Cowboys defense. 

And while I originally thought that Oklahoma State might be able to spring an upset over Oklahoma on Nov. 29 in the Bedlam Game in Stillwater, I'm not so sure today. If Oklahoma State doesn't get a better pass rush against Sam Bradford and that mammoth Oklahoma offensive line, we might see a similar result as the Texas Tech game -- even playing at T. Boone Pickens Stadium.