Connect with us


Oklahoma State is Elite When Winning TO Battle by 2+



Oklahoma State has built a national program out of winning turnover battles. After a few years of sitting atop the TO mountain, it felt like it might be a fluke. Then a few years turned into a half decade, and it felt like a trend. Now, Oklahoma State trails Oregon as the leader in turnovers created by just six since the 2008 season. That’s not a fluke or a trend. It’s a defensive culture.

Turnovers created (2008-2017)
Rank School Fumble INT TO
1 Oregon 113 152 265
2 Houston 113 150 263
3 Boise State 98 163 261
4 Oklahoma State 110 149 259
5 Ohio State 84 161 245
6 Louisiana Tech 99 142 241
7 Utah 107 134 241
8 Texas Christian 103 133 236
9 Virginia Tech 93 142 235
10 Alabama 78 152 230

So we know this is one of Glenn Spencer’s goals. He told us in July and has said so innumerable times over the last 3-4 years. But just how good has Oklahoma State been when winning the turnover battle? How much does it help team success to win the TO game? And by how much must you win it?

I started thinking about these questions after the South Alabama game where OSU created two turnovers and gave up none. They finished No. 10 in TO margin last season, and early on this year are again tracking for a solid finish nationally. While not the only harbinger of success, it stands to reason that this is one of the biggest ones of the Gundy era.

So I went back and looked at all 156 games Gundy has coached to find out Oklahoma State’s win-loss percentage in each TO margin category. Here’s what I came up with.

Margin Win Loss Percentage
-7 1 0%
-5 2 0%
-4 4 0%
-3 1 1 50%
-2 9 10 47%
-1 8 12 40%
0 27 12 69%
1 20 6 77%
2 16 1 94%
3 13 1 93%
4 9 100%
5 1 10%
6 2 100%

That -7 was an 8-turnover performance at Baylor in 2005. I had to look it up. Al Pena and Bobby Reid both threw two picks, and that was half the turnovers. There were as many interceptions in that game as Mason Rudolph has in his last 64 quarters of play. Astounding.

The tipping point here seems to be between +1 and +2. If you can figure out how to get to +2, you’re going to win 9 out of 10 times. For the sake of context, Gundy’s overall winning percentage at OSU is 68 percent, and his winning percentage when the turnover battle is equal is about the same, which makes sense.

Also, OSU is 61-8 (!) when it wins the turnover battle in the Gundy era. That’s basically Urban Meyer’s career at Ohio State. Whooo baby.

As ever, this OSU team will go as its ability to turn teams over on defense goes. OSU has done a great job offensively figuring out how to protect the rock, and I would expect that to continue throughout the year. Can you flip fields and steal possessions, though? If so, the dream season should remain that way for a really long time.

Most Read