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Turnover margin is how OSU, Texas win games

Turnover will determine this year’s OSU-Texas winner.



Photo Attribution: USATSI

Photo Attribution: USATSI

I usually roll my eyes when college football analysts give me their Toyota Highlander high-gear low price “keys to the game” and “turnovers” is one of them.

Of course it is, turnovers swing games all the time, it’s the foundation upon which upsets are built.¬†This obvious, I think. But then I started looking at the Texas-OSU matchup and I realized it might be more true for these two teams than any other two teams in the country over the last two years.

So with that let me break this down for you Mark Schlereth-style.

Here are the top 15 teams in the country in turnover margin per game in 2013:

1. Houston — 2.33
2. Buffalo — 1.67
3. Louisville — 1.56
4. FSU — 1.44
5. Mizzou — 1.40
6. Oregon — 1.22
6. Oklahoma State — 1.22
8. North Texas — 1.00
8. Ball State — 1.00
8. Clemson — 1.00
8. Texas — 1.00
8. Oregon State — 1.00
8. Northern Illinois — 1.00
8. Ohio State — 1.00
8. UCF — 1.00

That Houston number, by the way, would be an all-timer. The site I use has been keeping this stat since 2007 and the best mark so far is 1.69 by Air Force in 2009 (OSU was 1.62 in 2011).

Let’s take these out even farther. If you look at OSU’s game log this year, it has lost the turnover battle in exactly one game. I think you know when and where that one was played. It involved a psychotic play caller on one sideline whose name rhymes with “Pay Bra Mole Fur Ton.”

Let’s go back to 2012 as well. OSU lost the turnover battle in four games (KSU, Baylor, Arizona, and Kansas). Three of them were losses. The only time in the last two years OSU has won a turnover battle and lost the game was Bedlam last season. And if OSU loses like that to Texas this weekend, I think we can all live with that.

Here’s a peek at Texas in the last two years.

In 2013 the only turnover battle Texas lost was to Kansas which is…whatever…and the Horns are undefeated in conference play so far. Last year though? Last year Texas lost the turnover battle in four games (OU, Kansas, TCU, and KSU) and lost three of them. It won or tied the rest of its turnover battles and was 8-1 in those games.


OSU in 2012-13: 1-4 when it loses turnover battle, 15-2 when it doesn’t.
Texas in 2012-13: 2-3 when it loses turnover battle, 13-3 when it doesn’t.

This isn’t breaking news and it’s not meant to be but these two squads do seem to lean more heavily on the creation of turnovers translating to wins than most teams do.

In fact, I think whichever team wins the turnover battle on Saturday will win by 10 points (they tied last year, and basically tied the game).

Does that make me an analyst at a major network now?

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