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Offense Wins (Big 12) Championships



Photo Attribution: Rick Smith

Brian Fremeau of wrote a terrific piece the other day breaking down the offensive firepower both OSU and Texas A&M have at their disposal.

He notes that they project both OSU and Texas A&M to have top ten offenses and top-25 defenses throughout the year. The sample size thus far doesn’t put each in its respective category but they’re close enough that the assumptions is legitimate.

Then he goes pretty deep on something called offensive efficiency,

In the matchups last season that featured top-10 offenses versus top-25 defenses according to offensive and defensive efficiency, the offenses had their way. The top offenses averaged more than 35 points per game and won six of eight such matchups.

I would think this favors OSU as they have a slightly better offense compared to A&M’s slightly better D.

Fremeau implies that one huge problem OSU could run into is A&M’s ability to control the ball and meander down the field on extended drives:

Texas A&M, for instance, generated more offensive value in its 46-point game against SMU than Oklahoma State did in its 54-point game against Louisiana Lafayette. That’s because the Aggies had seven fewer offensive possessions than the Cowboys, scoring more often per opportunity.

This got me thinking about ball control so I went back and ran the numbers. OSU has had 25 scoring drives this year that have lasted an average of 2:31 each. Texas A&M has had 15 scoring drives this year that have lasted an average of 2:30.

The usual caveats of “small sample size” and “haven’t played anyone” definitely apply but I expected that variation to be much larger and much more in favor of A&M.

So yes, efficiency is something the Cowboys are going to have to take care of on Saturday afternoon, but it might not be quite as necessary as some analysts think. OSU is so good at creating turnovers and manipulating field position that sometimes I think it negates how quickly their offense scores.

I also went back and looked at 3rd down conversions, another sign of sustainable, clock-killing, defense-manipulating, crowd-draining drives.

OSU is 29 for 50 (58%)
Texas A&M is 7 for 19 (36%)

Ball control was such a huge concern for OSU last year as they finished last in the country in total plays on defense at 1,069 (I think Landry Jones might still be calling plays for Bedlam in his sleep). For reference, TCU’s defense was on the field for 350 fewer plays.

OSU has been better this year so far, mostly because they’ve held opponents to a 33% success rate on 3rd down (vs. 44% last year) but again I expect that number will rise as the competition does with it.

People perceive this Aggie squad as a team that goes on long drives and eats up clock but as you saw above that’s not necessarily the case. Their opponents have actually had the ball longer (by 4 minutes) this year than they have.

Bottom line – OSU can win a shootout, but I’m not sure they can win a slugfest, something A&M is going to have to get used to in the SEC the next few years. The good news is that the numbers scream shootout. The bad news is that 85,000+ will be screaming something different on Saturday afternoon.

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