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Five Best Stats: the Good and Bad on 3rd Down and Red Zone Concerns



OSU escaped the desert with a much needed win, and now get to enjoy the bye week. Now that my heart has moved from my throat back to my chest, I’ve had time to dissect the game.

There were five stats and numbers that stood out to me after Saturday’s game, including an improved run game, the third down defense (again), and OSU in the red zone.


Let’s start with a positive stat.

Coming into the game, the strength of the Texas Tech defense was its ability to stop the run. They were holding teams to an average of 119 yards a game and 3.2 yards per rush.

OSU racked up 221 yards total and averaged 5 yards a carry. That was highlighted by Justice Hill with 164 yards and 5.5 yards a rush. He broke off some solid runs against a team that wasn’t allowing much on the ground.

Considering how bad OSU’s run game looked against TCU, and the injuries on the offensive line that OSU is dealing with, those are impressive numbers.


We need to talk about Matt Ammendola.

I, like many fans on Saturday night, was concerned about the prospect of OSU lining up for a game-winning field goal attempt. Thankfully, Rudolph dispelled any fears by going full-Clint Chelf for the second time. But after going 2-of-4 on Saturday, fans don’t have a lot of faith in Ammendola.

Coming into the season, Gundy basically said that Ammendola had the leg, just not the accuracy on short attempts. We’ve seen that.

Through five games, Ammedola is 8 of 12 on field goals, with misses of 18, 22, 33, and 42 yards. The problem is those chip shot field goals he missed Saturday. I would almost rather he went for it from 50 than 20.

OSU escaped Saturday with a win. The question moving forward is, if it comes down to Ammendola, can he be trusted or would it be better for OSU to go for it on 4th down?


Through five games, Oklahoma State is 114th in the nation in third-down defense. They’ve allowed 38 conversions on 82 attempts. While the ranking is bad, the stat isn’t horrible… that is until you take out the South Alabama game.

OSU held the Jags to 1-of-10 on third downs in that game. Take it out and OSU’s allowed third-down defensive efficiency jumps to 51.3%.

Here’s the thing, OSU’s third down defense isn’t horrible. It’s just not great. It’s just average. Through the first five games of the season, only one team exceeded its season average against Glenn Spencer’s crew.

Team 3rd Down Game % Season %
Tulsa 16 – 26 61.5% 51%
South Alabama 1 – 10 10.0% 23%
Pittsburgh 5 – 15 33.3% 36%
TCU 11 – 19 57.8% 63%
Texas Tech 5 – 12 41.6% 41%

OSU has held four of its five opponents either to or under their season average on third downs. While this won’t make me any less nervous every time OSU faces a third-and-long this season, it should give us a good idea of what to expect moving forward this season.


Speaking of third downs… While OSU isn’t great on the defensive side of the ball at getting stops, they’re one of the best on the offensive side.54.7%

So far this season, the Cowboys have completed 35 of their 64 third downs attempts, for 54.7% efficiency. That’s good enough for third best in the country. They’re only behind Colorado State at 57.1% and TCU at 63.2%.

Also, before we completely lambaste OSU’s third down defense, realize that their two worst game defensively in that area, TCU and TU, were against teams in the top-10 in third down efficiency. TCU, obviously leading the nation, while Tulsa is sixth at 51.2%.


OSU’s problems in the red zone were really emphasized on Saturday. Three times against Texas Tech, OSU reached the 20 and came up empty due to a pick-6 and two missed field goals. Two other times the Cowboys came away with three points. That’s six total points on five trips to the red zone. Against Texas Tech, who is not what I would call a defensive juggernaut.

On the season now, OSU is 24-29 scoring in the red zone, which is… okay. What’s not okay is that OSU has 17 touchdowns in 29 red-zone appearances. For a team with the reputation of having a high-powered offense, that number should be better. A lot better.

If OSU is going to win the Big 12, they’re going to have to get more efficient inside the 20-yard line. We all know they can score on 60-yard bombs to James Washington, but when they reach the opponent’s 10, they need to be better. Especially with the questions about Ammendola’s accuracy within 30 yards.



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