Big 12: Oklahoma Cowboys

How sacks skew rushing statistics in college football

June, 23, 2009
6/23/09
6:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

This pains me to write this, but the NFL actually does something better than college football.

I've always been a college apologist, for obvious reasons. The color and pageantry of Saturday football far outstrips the professional counterpart. And the style of play, in my opinion, is just better with college football.

But I will admit that the NFL does one thing right. They have separated the sacks from rushing statistics, providing a truer picture of how a team is running the ball or stopping the run.

It's harder to do this in college football because the statistics are skewed when losses caused by sacks are included in rushing statistics. And it doesn't really show a true picture of a running the ball or stopping the run.

Take Texas A&M, which had trouble protecting the quarterback last season. The Aggies averaged 2.9 yards per carry, but those statistics were limited because the Aggies also led the conference in sacks allowed and yards lost in sacks. When those numbers are removed from the rushing total, the Aggies then averaged 4.2 yards per rush.

The Aggies' inability to protect the quarterback shouldn't detract from their running backs' rushing averages.

There are two distinctly different skills that are being measured in running the ball and protecting a passer. And they shouldn't be lumped together.

The same goes for defense. Texas led the conference in rushing defense, allowing only 1,086 yards last season and 3.1 yards per carry. But the Longhorns clearly benefitted from the nation's most fearsome pass rush, a unit that led the nation with 47 sacks and 383 yards in losses because of those sacks.

But that doesn't mean the Longhorns were the best team in the nation at controlling opposing offenses' running games. They had moderate success against the run and swelled those numbers with a mammoth number of sacks.

When those sack numbers are added back to Texas' defensive rushing statistics, the Longhorns allowed a pedestrian 4.8 yards per carry -- a difference of 1.7 yards per attempt. They led the conference in fewest rushing yards allowed, mainly because opposing teams passed against them because they were most often behind.

But that 4.8 yard-per-carry average actually ranks seventh in the conference. And the conference's best team in stopping the run when sacks are removed becomes Baylor, which limited opposing teams to 4.1 yards per carry.

It's not something I write very often. But college football needs to take a page from the NFL in how it figures rushing statistics.

Here's a look at Big 12 rushing statistics from last season -- both with sacks included and removed from the totals.

Big 12 Rushing Statistics: Offense
Team Att. Yds. Avg. Sacks Yds Att. Adjusted Yds. Avg.
Oklahoma State 582 3,191 5.5 16 95 566 3,286 5.8
Oklahoma 589 2,779 4.7 13 95 576 2,874 5.0
Baylor 481 2,349 4.9 28 191 453 2,540 5.6
Nebraska 486 2,207 4.5 21 128 465 2,335 5.0
Texas 508 2,177 4.3 26 179 482 2,356 4.9
Missouri 417 2,153 5.2 15 90 402 2,243 5.6
Iowa State 403 1,661 4.1 19 111 384 1,772 4.6
Kansas State 408 1,590 3.9 16 134 392 1,724 4.4
Kansas 445 1,648 3.7 31 230 414 1,878 4.5
Colorado 440 1,494 3.4 29 213 411 1,707 4.2
Texas Tech 317 1,532 4.8 13 113 304 1,645 5.4
Texas A&M 365 1,062 2.9 39 296 326 1,358 4.2

Big 12 Rushing Statistics: Defense
Team Att. Yds. Avg. Sacks Yds Att. Adjusted Yds. Avg.
Texas 356 1,086 3.1 47 383 309 1,469 4.8
Oklahoma 469 1,627 3.5 42 292 427 1,919 4.5
Nebraska 418 1,514 3.6 35 269 383 1,783 4.7
Kansas 407 1,600 3.9 26 191 381 1,791 4.7
Missouri 510 1,748 3.4 32 250 478 1,998 4.2
Oklahoma State 414 1,792 4.3 15 92 399 1,884 4.7
Baylor 463 1,655 3.6 21 152 442 1,807 4.1
Texas Tech 457 1,825 4.0 34 199 423 2,024 4.8
Colorado 456 1,995 4.4 23 165 433 2,160 5.0
Iowa State 436 2,158 4.9 17 111 419 2,269 5.4
Kansas State 502 2,612 5.2 20 119 482 2,731 5.7
Texas A&M 507 2,631 5.2 16 02 491 2,733 5.6

Big 12 lunch links: Can Leach's contract be worked out?

February, 9, 2009
2/09/09
12:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Mike Leach's quest for a new contract spilled into the public when e-mail records between Leach's agents and Texas Tech athletic department and school officials were released Friday afternoon. And it's provided ready fodder for comments from both sides at several Texas newspapers.

Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal writes about the simmering disagreement between Leach's representatives and his employers. And e-mail records show that the chasm has widened over the last several months -- despite the Red Raiders' 11-2 record in 2008 that matched a school single-season record for victories. The Dallas Morning News' Brandon George provides an extensive timeline detailing the key dates in the dispute between the two sides.

Here are some other stories from across the Big 12 for your edification.

  • Five Texas A&M players have left the program and are no longer on the Aggies' roster, Lori Dann of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. They include defensive tackle Kellen Heard, wide receiver E.J. Shankle, tight end Harold Turnage, linebacker Aaron Buckley and running back Mike Goodson.
  • John Hoover of the Tulsa World writes about intangibles that college coaches consider when they are recruiting.
  • Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press weighs in on recruiting -- using one-time Texas A&M recruit Craig Loston and current Texas A&M signee Colton Valencia as examples for a system he thinks is flawed
  • The unprecedented financial climate has resulted in stark cuts being considered at Missouri for all sports. After generating a record $7.7 million for the Tigers Scholarship Fund after the school's breakout 2007 football season, David Briggs of the Columbia Daily Tribune writes that school is bracing for a significantly reduced amount this year.
  • Top 2010 quarterback recruit Connor Wood of Houston is considering Texas and Oklahoma and will likely make his call within two weeks. Wood could be attracted to Oklahoma because he wants to major in petroleum engineering and has been intrigued with the school's Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering, the Oklahoman's Jake Trotter writes.
  • Eric Peterson of the Cedar Rapids Gazette writes why Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads seldom leaves his house without wearing a ball cap.

The Big 12 and the Super Bowl: The Eighties

January, 28, 2009
1/28/09
1:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It was the decade that gave us Madonna, Super Mario and Pac-Man.

The Eighties also gave us a lot of Big 12 players on Super Bowl teams, particularly during the 1987 season.

That was the notable year of the "replacement player," when NFL teams foisted substitute players for a three-game period when the regulars were out on strike. It might have been the worst idea in NFL history.

That's why the rosters of Super Bowl XXII participants Denver and Washington appear to have so many Big 12 players. It's because they had so many players in general.

Here's a look at the Super Bowl teams and their Big 12 alumni from their championship seasons.

1980
Oakland Raiders -- WR Cliff Branch (Colorado), S Mike Davis (Colorado), CB Lester Hayes (Texas A&M), RB I.M. Hipp (Nebraska), RB Kenny King (Oklahoma), DT Reggie Kinlaw (Oklahoma), T Lindsey Mason (Kansas), DB Odis McKinney (Colorado), LB Bob Nelson (Nebraska), DB Mike Spivey (Colorado), LB Greg Westbrooks (Colorado).

Philadelphia Eagles -- G Ron Baker (Oklahoma State), WR Luther Blue (Iowa State), DE-NT Thomas Brown (Baylor), RB Billy Campfield (Kansas), RB Jim Culbreath (Oklahoma), K Tony Franklin (Texas A&M), DB Zac Henderson (Oklahoma), NT Charlie Johnson (Colorado), TE Keith Krepfle (Iowa State), LB Ray Phillips (Nebraska), T Jerry Sisemore (Texas).

1981
San Francisco 49ers -- DB Ricky Churchman (Texas), LB Willie Harper (Nebraska), CB Eric Wright (Missouri).

Cincinnati Bengals -- G Glenn Bujnoch (Texas A&M), LB Tom Dinkel (Kansas), TE M.L. Harris (Kansas State), DT Rod Horn (Nebraska), RB Elvis Peacock (Oklahoma), WR David Verser (Kansas), G Bobby Whitten (Kansas).

1982
Washington Redskins -- DB Curtis Jordan (Texas Tech), DE Dexter Manley (Oklahoma State), DB Mike Nelms (Baylor), Tony Peters (Oklahoma), RB John Riggins (Kansas), RB Joe Washington (Oklahoma).

Miami -- DE Bill Barnett (Nebraska), S Glenn Blackwood (Texas), C Mark Dennard (Texas A&M), RB Andra Franklin (Nebraska), DB Mark Kozlowski (Colorado), TE Ronnie Lee (Baylor), K Uwe von Schamann (Oklahoma).

1983
Los Angeles Raiders -- RB Rick Berns (Nebraska), WR Cliff Branch (Colorado), S Mike Davis (Colorado), TE Don Hasselbeck (Colorado), CB Lester Hayes (Texas A&M), QB David Humm (Nebraska), RB Kenny King (Oklahoma), DT Reggie Kinlaw (Oklahoma), S Vann McElroy (Baylor), DB Odis McKinney (Colorado), LB Bob Nelson (Nebraska), RB Greg Pruitt (Oklahoma), CB Ted Watts (Texas Tech).

Washington Redskins -- S Curtis Jordan (Texas Tech), DE Dexter Manley (Oklahoma State), DB Mike Nelms (Baylor), RB John Riggins (Kansas), RB Joe Washington (Oklahoma).

1984
San Francisco 49ers -- FB Roger Craig (Nebraska), TE Al Dixon (Iowa State), DB Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M), CB Eric Wright (Missouri).

Miami Dolphins -- DE Bill Barnett (Nebraska), DE Charles Benson (Baylor), S Glenn Blackwood (Texas), TE John Chesley (Oklahoma State), FB Andra Franklin (Nebraska), TE Dan Johnson (Iowa State), DB Mike Kozlowski (Colorado), T-TE Ronnie Lee (Baylor), LB Jackie Shipp (Oklahoma), K Uwe von Schamann (Oklahoma).

1985
Chicago Bears -- P Maury Buford (Texas Tech), LB Brian Cabral (Colorado), WR-RB Dennis Gentry (Baylor), DT Steve McMichael (Texas), TE Emery Moorehead (Colorado), RB Thomas Sanders (Texas A&M), LB Mike Singletary (Baylor), DE Henry Waechter (Nebraska).

New England Patriots -- C Pete Brock (Colorado), CB Raymond Clayborn (Texas), G Paul Fairchild (Kansas), K Tony Franklin (Texas A&M), WR Irving Fryar (Nebraska), QB Steve Grogan (Kansas State), RB Greg Hawthorne (Baylor), DE Kenneth Sims (Texas), LB Ed Williams (Texas), NT Toby Williams (Nebraska),

1986
New York Giants -- K Raul Allegre (Texas), RB Tony Galbreath (Missouri), WR Bobby Johnson (Kansas), G-T Damian Johnson (Kansas State), T Karl Nelson (Iowa State), CB Elvis Patterson (Kansas), RB Lee Rouson (Colorado), NT Jerome Sally (Missouri), DE John Washington (Oklahoma State).

Denver Broncos -- G Keith Bishop (Baylor), CB Mark Haynes (Colorado), QB Gary Kubiak (Texas A&M), TE-FB Bobby Micho (Texas), RB Steve Sewell (Oklahoma), T Dave Studdard (Texas).

1987
Washington Redskins -- C Eric Coyle (Nebraska), DB Brian Davis (Nebraska), DB Charles Jackson (Texas Tech), WR Richard Johnson (Colorado), G David Jones (Texas), DE Dexter Manley (Oklahoma State), TE Terry Orr (Texas), G Phil Pettey (Missouri), WR Derrick Sheppard (Oklahoma), RB Timmy Smith (Texas Tech), DE Henry Waechter (Nebraska), S Alvin Walton (Kansas).

Denver Broncos -- G Keith Bishop (Baylor), WR Laron Brown (Texas), DE Steve Bryan (Oklahoma), CB Mark Haynes (Colorado), G David Jones (Texas), DB Leonard Jones (Texas Tech), LB Mike Knox (Nebraska), QB Gary Kubiak (Texas A&M), QB Monte McGuire (Texas Tech), TE-FB Bobby Micho (Texas), LB Marc Munford (Nebraska), DB Lyle Pickens (Colorado), RB-WR Steve Sewell (Oklahoma), T Dave Studdard (Texas), WR Shane Swanson (Nebraska), DE Jeff Tupper (Oklahoma), DE Ray Woodard (Texas).

1988
San Francisco 49ers -- DB Chet Brooks (Texas A&M), RB Roger Craig (Nebraska), RB Doug DuBose (Nebraska), S Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M), P Barry Helton (Colorado), FB Tom Rathman (Nebraska), RB Harry Sydney (Kansas), C Chuck Thomas (Oklahoma), CB Eric Wright (Missouri).

Cincinnati Bengals -- DB Rickey Dixon (Oklahoma), P Scott Fulhage (Kansas State), QB Mike Norseth (Kansas), G Bruce Reimers (Iowa State), DE Jim Skow (Nebraska), T Joe Walter (Texas Tech), S Solomon Wilcots (Colorado), RB Stanley Wilson (Oklahoma).

1989
San Francisco 49ers -- S Chet Brooks (Texas A&M), RB Reggie Craig (Nebraska), DB Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M), P Barry Helton (Colorado), FB Tom Rathman (Nebraska), RB Harry Sydney (Kansas), G Terry Tausch (Texas), C Chuck Thomas (Oklahoma), RB Spencer Tillman (Oklahoma), TE Jamie Williams (Nebraska), CB Eric Wright (Missouri).

Denver Broncos -- G Keith Bishop (Baylor), DB Kip Corrington (Texas A&M), DB Mark Haynes (Colorado), QB Gary Kubiak (Texas A&M), LB Marc Munford (Nebraska), G Mike Ruether (Texas), FB Steve Sewell (Oklahoma).

Note: Starters are in bold.

Big 12 links: After early bowl woes, was the Big 12 overrated?

January, 6, 2009
1/06/09
1:20
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Texas' gritty comeback victory over Ohio State in last night's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl pushed the Big 12's bowl record to 4-2. But already, some critics are saying that disappointing losses by bowl favorites Oklahoma State and Texas Tech have tarnished the conference's national reputation.

Oklahoma's matchup with Florida in Thursday's FedEx BCS National Championship Game will be huge in order to reclaim some of that national respect. And it won't be easy considering the Sooners are the biggest underdog in a bowl game under Bob Stoops since their 2001 Orange Bowl triumph over Florida State that propelled them to Stoops' first national championship.

Until then, here are some lunchtime links to get you ready for that game.

  • Pete Thamel of the New York Times wonders if the Big 12's bowl struggles will be a crystal ball for Thursday's BCS National Championship Game.
  • Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes isn't buying reports of the explosive Big 12 offenses. Spikes tells the Dallas Morning News' Kate Hairopoulos that Oklahoma's defense "is a joke" because of its inability to consistently stop opposing teams.
  • Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald writes about some potential roadblocks that might keep Nebraska from contending for the 2009 Big 12 North title.
  • Texas won the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, but their gritty comeback over Ohio State likely didn't do much for their hopes of winning a split national championship, according to Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls.
  • San Antonio Express-News columnist Buck Harvey compares Texas to the New York Giants because of their clutch abilities to make plays in key situations. And like the Giants, Harvey believes that the Longhorns would thrive if their sport featured a true playoff system.
  • USA Today compares and contrasts the Big 12 and the Southeastern conference.

SPONSORED HEADLINES