Banner season for Big 12 offenses


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

After watching Big 12 games last season, I got the idea that the league was one where offenses dominated and defensive coordinators grew old very quickly.

But I didn't realize how much Big 12 offenses ruled until I looked at the numbers compared to the rest of the country.

The NCAA broke down all of the 2008 statistics on a conference-by-conference extrapolation. I then pulled out a calculator to delve deeper than the surface numbers.

The Big 12 led every conference in almost every major offensive statistic. Some of these margins were by an unexpectedly large margin.

Take average number of plays. Here's how the conferences rank on a per-game, per-team basis.
Big 12                  71.0
Conference USA     69.9
Mountain West       69.1
Sun Belt                68.5
Big Ten                  68.3
Mid-American         68.0
Western Athletic     67.4
Pac-10                   67.3
Big East                 66.1
Atlantic Coast         65.2
Southeastern          64.9
Independents          64.6
NATIONAL AVG        67.7

The statistics indicate the Big 12 ran 1.59 percent more plays than its next closest rival and was 4.93 percent above the national average.

Punting also provides another interesting comparison. The Big 12 ranks last among conferences in average punts per game. Here's a look at the national average in per-team punts per game.

Pac-10                    5.1
Sun Belt                  5.1
Southeastern           5.0
Western Athletic       5.0
Big Ten                    5.0
Atlantic Coast          4.9
Big East                  4.7
Mountain West         4.7
Conference USA       4.6
Independents          4.3
Mid-American           4.2
Big 12                     3.7
NATIONAL AVG.        4.7

The Big 12 has fewer punts -- by a huge margin over any other conference. It's 27.45 percent below the national leader and one full punt per game below the national average.

The Big 12 also led the nation convincingly in most yards per team. Here's a look at the national per-team, per-game averages.

Big 12                    439.6
Conference USA      401.8
Sun Belt                 378.2
Mid-American          376.2
Western Athletic      370.2
Mountain West        368.8
Big Ten                   367.2
Big East                  360.9
Pac-10                    359.1
Southeastern            342.9
Independents          333.2
Atlantic Coast          329.1
NATIONAL AVG.       371.6

Again, the Big 12 has a huge edge over the rest of the country. The per-team per-game total offense total is 9.41 percent above its next closest finisher, 18.3 percent above the national average and 33.6 percent above the last-place finisher's average.

Scoring again was led by the Big 12. Here's a per-conference, per-team, per game comparison.

Big 12                        35.6
Conference USA          28.8
Pac-10                       27.4
Western Athletic          26.7
Mid-American              26.7
Big Ten                       26.6
Mountain West            26.4
Sun Belt                     26.2
Southeastern              25.6
Big East                      25.3
Atlantic Coast              24.0
Independents              22.4
NATIONAL AVG.           27.2

The Big 12's figures were a whopping 23.6 percent over second-place Conference USA, 30.9 percent above the national average and 58.9 percent above the scoring done by independents.

Here's how the conferences ranked on a yards-per-play average.

Big 12                           6.19
Conference USA             5.75
Mid-American                 5.59
Sun Belt                        5.52
Western Athletic             5.50
Big East                         5.46
Big Ten                          5.35
Pac-10         &
nbsp;                 5.34
Mountain West                5.33
Southeastern                  5.28
Independents                 5.16
Atlantic Coast                 5.03
NATIONAL AVG.              5 49

The Big 12's average per play ranked 7.65 percent above its closest contender, 12.8 percent above the national average and 23.1 percent above the lowest finisher among the conferences.

It will be interesting to see if the Big 12 offenses can maintain that domination next season. With the strong cast of returning quarterbacks, it wouldn't surprise me if it is similarly skewed next season.