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The Most Important Statistic for OSU’s Game versus Virginia Tech



The Oklahoma State Cowboys will face the best statistical defense they’ve seen all season when they take on No. 22 Virginia Tech in the Camping World Bowl on Thursday. The Hokies have one of the best defenses in the country, and they’re in the top 15 in both total and scoring defense. But there’s one statistic that will be even more important than both of them.

The Hokies have the second-best third-down defense in the country, only allowing opponents to convert 25 percent of their third downs. The Cowboys have already faced Texas and TCU, who have the No. 4 and No. 8 third-down defense in the country, respectively. OSU’s offense struggled against both teams, recording their season-low in points against the former and suffering their first loss versus the latter.

The Hokies’ ability to stop opponents on third down has been a large part of their success. They held conference opponents Boston College, Pittsburgh and North Carolina to a sub-18 percent third-down conversion rate.

Opp. 3rd-Down % in Losses Opp. 3rd-Down % in Wins Total Allowed 3rd-Down %
37% 22% 25%

Virginia Tech only struggles when they can’t stop their opponents and are forced to stay on the field. When they played Clemson, Miami and Georgia Tech, their opponents were all able to convert roughly one-third of their attempts.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, they enter the game at No. 13 in the country in third-down efficiency, converting roughly 46 percent of their attempts. The Hokies’ only opponent who was better in that category was Clemson, who defeated VT, 31-17, in October.

If the Cowboys can stay on the field, they’re going to wear out a banged-up Hokie defense with their tempo, and they have a chance to break the game wide open.

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