Banner season for Big 12 offenses

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

After watching Big 12 games last season, I got the idea that the league was one where offenses dominated and defensive coordinators grew old very quickly.

But I didn't realize how much Big 12 offenses ruled until I looked at the numbers compared to the rest of the country.

The NCAA broke down all of the 2008 statistics on a conference-by-conference extrapolation. I then pulled out a calculator to delve deeper than the surface numbers.

The Big 12 led every conference in almost every major offensive statistic. Some of these margins were by an unexpectedly large margin.

Take average number of plays. Here's how the conferences rank on a per-game, per-team basis.
Big 12 71.0
Conference USA 69.9
Mountain West 69.1
Sun Belt 68.5
Big Ten 68.3
Mid-American 68.0
Western Athletic 67.4
Pac-10 67.3
Big East 66.1
Atlantic Coast 65.2
Southeastern 64.9
Independents 64.6

The statistics indicate the Big 12 ran 1.59 percent more plays than its next closest rival and was 4.93 percent above the national average.

Punting also provides another interesting comparison. The Big 12 ranks last among conferences in average punts per game. Here's a look at the national average in per-team punts per game.

Pac-10 5.1
Sun Belt 5.1
Southeastern 5.0
Western Athletic 5.0
Big Ten 5.0
Atlantic Coast 4.9
Big East 4.7
Mountain West 4.7
Conference USA 4.6
Independents 4.3
Mid-American 4.2
Big 12 3.7

The Big 12 has fewer punts -- by a huge margin over any other conference. It's 27.45 percent below the national leader and one full punt per game below the national average.

The Big 12 also led the nation convincingly in most yards per team. Here's a look at the national per-team, per-game averages.

Big 12 439.6
Conference USA 401.8
Sun Belt 378.2
Mid-American 376.2
Western Athletic 370.2
Mountain West 368.8
Big Ten 367.2
Big East 360.9
Pac-10 359.1
Southeastern 342.9
Independents 333.2
Atlantic Coast 329.1

Again, the Big 12 has a huge edge over the rest of the country. The per-team per-game total offense total is 9.41 percent above its next closest finisher, 18.3 percent above the national average and 33.6 percent above the last-place finisher's average.

Scoring again was led by the Big 12. Here's a per-conference, per-team, per game comparison.

Big 12 35.6
Conference USA 28.8
Pac-10 27.4
Western Athletic 26.7
Mid-American 26.7
Big Ten 26.6
Mountain West 26.4
Sun Belt 26.2
Southeastern 25.6
Big East 25.3
Atlantic Coast 24.0
Independents 22.4

The Big 12's figures were a whopping 23.6 percent over second-place Conference USA, 30.9 percent above the national average and 58.9 percent above the scoring done by independents.

Here's how the conferences ranked on a yards-per-play average.

Big 12 6.19
Conference USA 5.75
Mid-American 5.59
Sun Belt 5.52
Western Athletic 5.50
Big East 5.46
Big Ten 5.35
Pac-10 &
nbsp; 5.34
Mountain West 5.33
Southeastern 5.28
Independents 5.16
Atlantic Coast 5.03

The Big 12's average per play ranked 7.65 percent above its closest contender, 12.8 percent above the national average and 23.1 percent above the lowest finisher among the conferences.

It will be interesting to see if the Big 12 offenses can maintain that domination next season. With the strong cast of returning quarterbacks, it wouldn't surprise me if it is similarly skewed next season.