How Important are First Drives for Oklahoma State?

Written by Kyle Porter

A couple of weeks ago Hayden Barber dug up this stat: In the last two years, Oklahoma State is 8-0 when it scores on its first drive and 5-4 when it doesn’t. That trend continued at Texas Tech where it scored on its first drive to move to 9-0, but I wanted to see just how deep it goes. How long has it been since Oklahoma State lost when scoring on its first drive? Let’s take a look.

Oklahoma State’s Record (2013-2017)
Year OSU Scores OSU Doesn’t Score
2017 3-0 1-1
2016 6-0 4-3
2015 5-0 5-3
2014 3-1 4-5
2013 4-0 6-3
Total 21-1 20-15

Since 2014, Oklahoma State is 21-1 when scoring on the first drive and 20-15 when it doesn’t. That’s pretty incredible. You have to go back to the 2014 Kansas State game to find the last time OSU scored on its first drive and lost in the last five years. Mostly because it didn’t score on the following 11 (!)

Obviously when you’re playing better teams, you are both less likely to score overall and less likely to win, but I think the 2013 Bedlam best epitomizes what we’re discussing here. Remember that first drive? Desmond Roland (I believe) took one to the house on the first possession, but it got called back. If he scores there, I firmly believe OSU wins that game and had two Big 12 titles instead of just one.

This is obviously not a hard and fast rule, but it’s something to keep an eye on for the rest of the season, especially because Mason Rudolph, Mike Yurcich and Co. have talked adamantly about being a team that scores on its first possession of the game and its first one of the second half.

Once that thing gets going downhill, it’s tough to stop (as Pitt found out). Unfortunately for Oklahoma State, sometimes it’s hard to get it going (as TCU found out). This is part of the reason I think OSU should take the ball to start the game from now on. Get the rock, punch it in and get your team going downhill. Think about how much pressure you can apply to opponents by scoring on the first drive. All of a sudden your opponent feels the burden of scoring on its first drive because if you punt, you’re staring at a 14-0 deficit at the hands of one of the most potent offenses in the nation.

  • Clint

    That’s pretty incredible. Take the stinkin’ ball…from now on!!!

    • Mkobize

      Goes to show 1) How little our coaching staff knows about game strategy and 2) how little they know about their own team.

  • OSU-Bill

    Now, run the stats on the Cowboys’ winning percentage when the opponent scores on their first drive, then correlate the two. My guess is that the ability of the defense to get off the field without a score or limiting to a field goal is more predictive of whether OSU wins the game. I trust our first possession D more than I trust our second half D.

  • Doc Holliday

    Also, by the third or fourth drive, good DCs and good teams have Yurcichs gameplay figured out so the offense gets stagnant and Yurcich resorts to draws, fade routes and reverses

  • StillOriginal

    Roland’s run in bedlam that year had me hype! I believe that same game was when they called back Gilberts INT.

    • Still Sad

      *Sigh* Yes… You are correct. That game still haunts me, a game OSU probably wins 7 or 8 times out of 10 :/

  • DVoth

    I am guessing this stat is not unique to Oklahoma State. Most offenses don’t throw the playbook wide open in that 1st drive. If they score on the 1st drive it is probably a pretty good indicator of future success. Conversely if the defense can’t get a stop on its opponents 1st possession they are likely to struggle getting stops all day. At some point, the defense has to create extra possessions. Why not try to do it at the start of the game? Kick the ball. Defense go get it back. Offense go score. Pretty simple.