Big 12's most effecient offenses: Oklahoma, Texas Tech stand out

The nation's best collection of offenses resides in the Big 12.

Half of the conference -- Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech -- finished the regular season in the top 10 nationally in points per game.

Yet total points aren't the best measure of efficient offense. Baylor led the nation in points per game and yards per game yet didn't lead the Big 12 in several key offensive categories during conference play. With the help of ESPN Stats & Information, here's a look at the Big 12 rankings in points per drive, yards per play, third-down conversions, red zone efficiency and drives without a first down or touchdown and a glance at what those numbers mean:

Points per drive

  1. Oklahoma, 3.19

  2. Texas Tech, 2.85

  3. Baylor, 2.78

  4. Oklahoma State, 2.5

  5. TCU, 2.31

  6. Kansas State, 1.97

  7. Iowa State, 1.92

  8. West Virginia, 1.84

  9. Texas, 1.71

  10. Kansas, 0.77

Notable: The points-per-drive numbers underscore the value of a consistent, efficient quarterback. The top half of the conference had quarterbacks that put up some of the best numbers in America -- including Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes at the top -- while the bottom half of the conference had inconsistent quarterbacking.

Yards per play

  1. Oklahoma, 7.04

  2. Texas Tech, 6.84

  3. TCU, 6.68

  4. Baylor, 6.52

  5. Oklahoma State, 6.25

  6. Texas, 5.52

  7. Iowa State, 5.47

  8. West Virginia, 5.4

  9. Kansas State, 4.72

  10. Kansas, 4.09

Notable: Kansas State struggled to move the ball, finishing ninth in this category, yet finished with a better points-per-drive average than Texas, Iowa State and West Virginia. The Wildcats did more with less, finishing the season without a 2,000-yard passer, a 700-yard rusher or a 500-yard receiver.

Third-down conversion percentage

  1. Texas Tech, 50.7

  2. Baylor, 45.2

  3. Oklahoma State, 44.5

  4. Oklahoma, 44.4

  5. TCU, 42.4

  6. (tie) Iowa State, 38.6; Kansas State, 38.6

  7. West Virginia, 36.4

  8. Texas, 36.2

  9. Kansas, 34.6

Notable: Patrick Mahomes’ 93.7 raw QBR on third down was the Big 12’s best, but a hidden trait in his excellence as a sophomore was his 36 carries for 187 yards and five touchdowns on third-down plays. Mahomes became a real nightmare for defenses with his dual-threat ability in those key situations. Only Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. (95.6) had a higher third-down QBR this season.

Red zone touchdown percentage

  1. Kansas State, 78.8

  2. Baylor, 75.0

  3. Oklahoma State, 73.8

  4. Texas Tech, 67.4

  5. Oklahoma, 67.3

  6. Iowa State, 65.5

  7. TCU, 61.0

  8. West Virginia, 54.5

  9. Kansas, 52.9

  10. Texas, 51.9

Notable: Texas, Kansas and West Virginia had to settle for field goals nearly half of the time they ventured into the opponents’ red zone, losing a bunch of potential points. It should be no surprise none of those teams finished conference play with a winning record after their struggles to maximize red zone opportunities.

Percentage of drives without a first down or touchdown

  1. Texas Tech, 19.4

  2. Oklahoma, 20.5

  3. Baylor, 24.4

  4. TCU, 24.8

  5. Oklahoma State, 26.0

  6. West Virginia, 30.4

  7. Iowa State, 31.9

  8. Kansas State, 32.8

  9. Texas, 37.6

  10. Kansas, 47.3

Notable: Oklahoma averaged an eye-popping 8.5 yards per play on first down, as the Sooners averaged 314.7 offensive yards per game on first-down plays alone. The Sooners played ahead of the chains for the majority of the year and did it with balance, averaging 170 rushing yards and 144.67 passing yards per game on first down.


Summary: Even with Texas Tech nipping at its heels, Oklahoma was clearly the Big 12’s top offense. Not only did the Sooners lead the pack in points per drive and yards per play, Oklahoma had a Big 12-low 10 turnovers in 12 games. It’s hard to imagine a better first season in charge for Lincoln Riley. ... Seeing Tech alongside Oklahoma in most of these categories highlights how good the Red Raiders were on offense in Kliff Kingsbury’s third season. Now if they can just get their defense fixed, they would be a title contender. ... West Virginia stands out as a team that would be expected to land higher in these categories. Dana Holgorsen needs to return his offense to the top half of the conference if he hopes to put his team in title contention in 2016. ... Odd not to see Baylor atop any of these categories. Starting three different quarterbacks didn’t help the cause, but the Bears still finished in the top half of the conference in each category despite the unrest under center.