Some interesting numbers from 2009

Oregon coach Chip Kelly told me last week that his defense ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 in conference play. Got to admit I was skeptical.

But he was right, as you can see by crunching the numbers at cfbstats.com (an extremely useful website).

Warning: If you visit the site, you might end up spending a lot of time there because you can evaluate numbers every which way (hmm, which QB had the highest efficiency rating in home games?).

Kelly also said the best way, in his opinion, to evaluate Pac-10 teams is how they do in Pac-10 play. So that's what I did.

Here are a few interesting numbers that popped up for me.

  • Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck led the Pac-10 in passing efficiency for the entire season, but he only ranked third against conference foes. Oregon State's Sean Canfield ranked No. 1 -- his 151.1 rating would have ranked ninth in the nation -- followed by Oregon's Jeremiah Masoli and then Luck. By the way, USC's Matt Barkley ranked seventh.

  • Washington State scored just 10 touchdowns in Pac-10 play and averaged 8.9 points per game. Not. Good.

  • The Cougars, however, weren't the only team to struggle on offense in conference play. Four other teams averaged less than 24 points per game: USC (23.6 ppg), California (22.8), UCLA (20.1) and Arizona State (18.1).

  • Guess who had the worst scoring defense in conference play other than Washington State? Here's a hint: The defensive coordinator is now at Boise State. Yep, Cal surrendered 28.1 points per game. The Bears also ranked ninth in total defense, surrendering 412.9 yards per game vs. conference foes. They were seventh in the Pac-10 in both numbers for the entire season. Pause for a moment and think about how many good players the Cal defense had last year. Hmm.

  • How much did Oregon State's young line improve in 2009? In four nonconference games, the Beavers gave up 10 sacks and averaged 131.75 yards rushing (that includes zero sacks and 88 yards rushing in the Las Vegas Bowl vs. BYU). In nine conference games, the Beavers gave up 19 sacks and averaged 143.4 yards rushing.

  • In the "huh?" category: USC averaged 166.5 yard rushing with an average of 5.55 per carry in its four defeats. It averaged 166.9 yards rushing and 4.7 per carry in its nine wins. Does that mean the Trojans should have passed more? Maybe.

  • Turnovers were not a "big" issue in conference play. Only two teams -- Washington State (of course) and Arizona State -- were in the red in turnover margin. Washington and Stanford were tied for No. 1 at plus-four.