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OSU’s defense is key to beating TCU

OSU’s defense should be able to take over on Saturday agains a poor TCU offense.



Photo Attribution: USATSI

Photo Attribution: USATSI

If you’ve been reading this blog for more than, like, a day you know I’m quite fascinated with measuring teams by things like points per drive and yards per play — stuff that seems to matter more as the dichotomy of college football into the spread offense and the “Alabama offense” (for lack of a better term) proliferates.

I don’t care if you put up 1,000 yards a game if you’re running 200 plays. That’s not a good average. But if you’re putting up 715 yards a game on 76 plays like Baylor is, well, that’s an issue for opposing defenses.[1. Baylor is averaging more pass yards than both Kansas schools, Iowa State, West Virginia, and TCU are averaging total yards.]

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at what TCU does well and what they do poorly compared to OSU.

Let’s start with this: TCU is horrendous on long drives. They’re averaging 0 points on drives where they start inside their own 20. Conversely, OSU’s defense is only allowing .35 points/drive on drives where its opponents start inside their own 20.[1. For those numbers I’m using BCF Toys which differs from the numbers I ran yesterday because BCF eschews garbage drives at the end of the half as well as non D-1 opponents (Lamar). Sorry for the confusion.]

If Kipper can get friendly with the coffin corner, you shouldn’t expect much out of the TCU O.

TCU’s offense is nearly as bad on all drives as it is on long ones. It’s only averaging 1.66 points per drive, good for 94th in the country. Granted, it has LSU and OU on its resume thus far — both of which have decent defenses but I would put OSU’s right up there with both, if not better than LSU’s.

Oklahoma State’s D is currently ranked 16th in the country in points per drive allowed at 1.38. The offenses it has faced haven’t exactly been in the “2008 OU” class but still, that’s a good mark for a team that runs a ton of plays.

TCU also loses a ton of turnovers (76th in the country in this stat). It has turned it over at least twice in four of six games so far. Again, good news for OSU fans! The Pokes create a lot of turnovers — 21st in the country at 2.4 per game.

So…uh…how does TCU win any games?

Ahh, their defense creates turnovers. Lots of them.

Despite that 76th in the country ranking in losing turnovers, they’re top 30 in turnover margin per game at .67 (OSU is 7th at 1.40).

In two games where opponents have attempted over 40 passes against TCU (SMU and Tech) it has seven combined interceptions. That scares me with an offense that really needs Walsh to fling it around a lot to open up the field and thusly the offense.

TCU’s secondary is buoyed by first-round prospect Jason Verrett and the threat he poses has allowed an always-excellent defensive line to hold opponents to just 3.2 yards per rush (same as OSU, by the way).

So it’s kind of a pick your poison thing with TCU’s D — I think OSU should challenge TCU deep though (it has been average at stopping the pass), otherwise a stuffy run game will get even stuffier and Verrett will pick Walsh off between 24-26 times on short slants. Plus, if TCU is picking off deep balls, that’s fine, we’ve already established how bad they are at putting together lengthy drives.

TCU probably isn’t going to beat you with offense[1. This definitely means Boykin will rush and pass for 300 yards on Saturday.] so as long as Walsh can protect the ball and stretch the field for some big plays (a big “as long as”) the OSU defense (I cannot believe I’m writing this) should be able to take over and deliver a win.

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