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Oklahoma State’s Turnover Production Has Been Nearly Nonexistent in 2018

OSU’s finish in the Big 12 has mirrored its TO margin.

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Oklahoma State has won the turnover battle in exactly one game this season. That was also, arguably, its best overall performance of the season (although I lean more toward Bedlam) as the Pokes took down Boise State 44-21 (that feels like two years ago, huh?).

OSU is actually protecting the ball pretty well. They’re 55th nationally with 14 turnovers given up (8 interceptions, 6 fumbles lost) in 10 games, which depending on how the final two or three games go, is going to be about the ballpark they’ve been in since 2010.

But turn the field around, and it’s a whole lot of ?. Here’s a look at the turnover numbers both for and against OSU in the Gundy era.

Year TOs Given TOs Created Margin
2005 35 20 -15
2006 21 26 5
2007 22 19 -3
2008 20 25 5
2009 30 30 0
2010 22 34 12
2011 23 44 21
2012 22 22 0
2013 18 33 15
2014 22 14 -8
2015 15 28 13
2016 14 25 11
2017 21 24 3
2018 14 10 -4

OSU has only had one year since 2007 in which it has finished in the red when it comes to turnover margin. It’s only had one year since 2007 in which it has produced fewer than 22 turnovers in a season. Unless something dramatic happens over the next 2-3 games, they will likely fall into both categories once again in 2018.

It’s not a coincidence that the 2014 season and 2018 season align here. In a game with already-thin margins, you can throw in a lack of turnover production along with a dip in QB play and an overall step back for the defense as reasons why OSU is 5-5 and not, say, 8-2 or 7-3.

As an aside: I love thinking about those margins. Consider this. What if Tylan catches the deep ball from Corn in the Iowa State game? What if OSU completes two three-yard conversions in the last two weeks? All of a sudden they’re 8-2 with a horrific loss at Kansas State and a horrific half against Texas Tech. It kind of makes you think differently about the season, doesn’t it?

Anyway, back to turnovers. OSU could have its chances against Will Grier and West Virginia this weekend, and maybe they’re due after creating just one total combined turnover (!) in the last four weeks against Kansas State, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma. But I have my doubts.

Gundy has talked over the past few weeks about how their defensive proximity has been better in recent games. The insinuation for me there is that before they can even talk about creating TOs, they have to talk about getting into position where they can create TOs.

Maybe all of this is the collateral damage of hiring a new defensive coordinator and the growing pains as they transition from one era to the next. But it feels like OSU’s inability to give their still-pretty-strong (!) offense¬†extra possessions should maybe be a bigger story than it’s been. Especially when you consider just how closely OSU’s finish in the Big 12 standings has mirrored its finish in turnover margin.

Year Conf. finish Rank in T/O Margin
2018 ? 8
2017 3 6
2016 2 2
2015 2 1
2014 7 8
2013 3 1
2012 4 6
2011 1 1
2010 2 2
2009 3 7
2008 6 4
2007 6 7
2006 8 4
Avg. 3.9 4.4

OSU has been elite — like most good teams are — when winning the turnover battle. They’re 58-5 since 2008 in games when this happens, and the fact that it’s happened just once in 2018 is yet another small but significant reason why OSU has struggled to right the ship (especially in the Big 12) so far this season.

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