Examining trends of Big 12's top offenses

Bryce Petty led the Big 12's top offense for the past two seasons. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Before the 2015 season gets underway it is a good time to examine the past and what things helped lead to success in the Big 12.

A look back at the Big 12's top offense in each of the last five seasons could reveal trends that can help us understand what it takes to field the best offense in the conference. The Big 12 leader in points per drive and percent of possible yards gained per drive were the No. 1 elements used to identify the top offense in the conference. This means Oklahoma State in 2010 then Baylor during the past four seasons earned the moniker of Big 12's top offense.

With the help of ESPN Stats and Information, here's a look at the general numbers (points per drive, percent of possible yards gained, yards per play, third down percentage) of the Big 12's best offense in each of the past five seasons as well as some trends those offenses had in common.


First down success

Each offense averaged at least seven yards per play and 8.8 first downs per game on first down plays. The league average was 6.09 yards per play and 7.1 first downs on first down plays during this span.

Specifics: 2010 Oklahoma State: 7.52 ypp, 10.5 first downs … 2011 Baylor: 8.07 ypp, 10.8 first downs … 2012 Baylor: 7.39 ypp, 8.8 first downs … 2013 Baylor: 7.6 ypp, 10.8 first downs … 7.08 ypp, 10.2 first downs.

What it means: A dominant offense in the Big 12 must be successful on first down. A seven-yard average means these offenses faced a lot of 2nd-and-short or, better yet, another first-and-10 situation after a first down play. In 2014, Oklahoma State, Texas, Iowa State and Kansas were the only Big 12 teams to average fewer than six yards per play on first down. That foursome was also the only teams in the conference to average fewer than two points per drive.

Fewer negative plays:

Each offense had a negative yardage percentage of 28 percent or lower. By comparison the league average during this span is 31.6.

Specifics: 2010 Oklahoma State: 28 percent … 2011 Baylor: 24.9 percent … 2012 Baylor: 27.6 percent … 2013 Baylor: 27.5 percent … 2014 Baylor: 27.2 percent.

What it means: Preventing negative plays is a key for every offense. Baylor has turned it into an art form in recent years with a 27.3 negative play percentage during the past five seasons combined. In addition, every team that finished with a negative yardage percentage of 32 or lower -- Baylor (27.2), Oklahoma (30.1), West Virginia (30.8), Kansas State (31.3) and TCU (31.9) -- had at least seven wins in 2014. Texas Tech had one of the Big 12’s most explosive offenses a year ago but a 35.7 negative play percentage (ninth in the Big 12) was a major problem for Kliff Kingsbury’s team.

Halftime adjustments:

All five offenses averaged at least 3.24 points per drive in the third quarter. The league average during this span was 2.4 points per drive in the third quarter.

Specifics: 2010 Oklahoma State: 3.29 points per drive … Baylor 2011: 4.11 points per drive … 2012 Baylor: 3.24 points per drive … 2013 Baylor: 3.42 points per drive … 2014 Baylor: 3.91 points per drive.

What it means: Those offenses did a great job of making adjustments during halftime, allowing for a jump in their point per drive numbers in the third quarter. The ability to react to what a opponent is doing midgame speaks volumes for these offenses. Not only did they have the ability to adjust on the fly, they were able to successfully make those changes immediately and efficiently.

Scoring often:

Each offense had a scoring frequency at least 58 percent or higher after gaining a first down. The conference average during this span was 50.8.

Specifics: 2010 Oklahoma State: 63.8 percent … 2011 Baylor: 59.7 percent … 2012 Baylor: 58.7 percent … 2013 Baylor: 58.6 percent … 2014 Baylor: 61.2 percent.

What it means: Once these offenses started a drive successfully they were more likely to finish it with points and more difficult to stop. OSU and BU both run systems that rely on tempo, so once a first down was achieved they became even harder to slow down.

Early success:

Each offense had a first quarter score percentage of 53.5 or higher. The conference average was 40.4 percent.

Specifics: 2010 Oklahoma State: 56.9 percent … 2011 Baylor: 53.5 percent … 2012 Baylor: 53.5 … 2013 Baylor: 62.5 percent … 2014 Baylor: 57.9 percent.

What it means: Both offenses tended to have success early in games. Early success increases confidence and often helps a team play with a lead. In 2014, Baylor (57.9), TCU (55.8) and Kansas State (55.3) finished 1-2-3 in first quarter score percentage and were the lone teams that finished above 50 percent.