Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Will big plays on offense win Big 12 games?
By David Ubben
The Big 12 knows offense, but what exactly does that mean? The last few weeks, we've tried to find out. What about the bottom line, the most important number of any team in college football?
How do big plays translate in this league? Well, I would assume, but let's have a closer look.
First up, how many big plays did each team have per win? Quick reminder: We define "big plays" as plays from scrimmage that went for gains of 20 yards or longer. How many big plays did it take each offense to win a game? The fewer, the better. It's tough to win games without big plays, but these teams found ways to do it.
Kansas State -- 5.36 big plays per win
Oklahoma -- 5.4 big plays per win
Texas -- 6.5 big plays per win
Iowa State -- 7.3 big plays per win
Texas Tech -- 8.5 big plays per win
TCU -- 8.57 big plays per win
West Virginia -- 10 big plays per win
Baylor -- 10.75 big plays per win
Oklahoma State -- 11.5 big plays per win
Kansas -- 40 big plays per win
Oklahoma State racked up the most big plays in the Big 12, but won just eight games, leading to a pretty low ration considering all its offensive success. Kansas State had the best ratio, and Oklahoma found a way to win 10 games despite ranking just eighth in total big plays.
Kansas is obviously an outlier with just one win, but the rest of the numbers tell you a pretty interesting story.
Oklahoma and Texas didn't have explosive offenses, but found ways to win a total of 19 games last season. That's especially impressive for Texas, who struggled with a leaky defense all season long.
Finally, how did their rank in total big plays correspond to their rank in the Big 12 standings? We'll rank each team on a plus-minus system comparing the former with the latter.
1. Oklahoma -- +6
2. Kansas State -- +5
3. Texas -- +4
4. Iowa State -- even
4. Kansas -- even
6. TCU -- (-2)
6. Texas Tech -- (-2)
8. Oklahoma State -- (-3)
9. Baylor -- (-5)
9. West Virginia -- (-5)
Overall, you don't see a ton of correlation with big plays and wins, with Texas and Oklahoma swimming to the top without a lot of explosiveness and the league's top three offenses all having very average seasons in 2012. It's interesting to see how this plays out from year to year, but this year, it's pretty clear that racking up tons of big plays doesn't necessarily mean you'll be racking up wins, too.
Conversely, if you don't have an explosive offense, you can still win a whole bunch of games, which might be the most important finding with looking at these numbers. Oklahoma and Texas did it, and in some ways, Kansas State did, too, though they were in the middle of the pack in big plays in part because they ran fewer offensive plays.
Still, the Big 12 will hold its identity as an offense-first league even if that doesn't always mean wins.