Welcome to the weekly Big 12 stat crunch, where we're taking a deeper statistical look at what's going on in the conference. Now that the Big 12 season is officially over, here are a few things that stood out from the bowl results:
1. Big 12 defenses disappoint
The defenses of the seven Big 12 bowl teams allowed an average of 44 points per game in bowls this season. That is not great.
Opponents who took on the Big 12 averaged 7.0 yards per play and 3.1 points per drive. They scored on 52 percent of their drives and punted on less than 30 percent. Oklahoma gave up the fewest points of any Big 12 team, and that was 37. West Virginia’s defense had the best points per drive rate (2.35). TCU gave up the fewest yards per play (5.0). Both secured last-minute victories in shootouts.
Run defense proved to be particularly difficult during this bowl season. Big 12 foes racked up 1,682 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns on 5.8 yards per carry. And you know Leonard Fournette didn't do that all by himself.
It’s easy to jump to conference-wide conclusions when you see those results (and the Big 12’s 3-4 record), but it was also easy to see all of these bowls were going to be high-difficulty matchups. The Big 12 took on five of the nation’s top 20 teams, including three of the top 10 scoring offenses.
2. TCU’s impossible odds
Had to triple-check this one to make sure it was right once I figured it out, because it’s just too crazy. Consider this one more reason why TCU had no business pulling off its Alamo Bowl comeback win against Oregon.
Since the start of the 2008 season, Oregon had a record of 64-0 in games in which the Ducks scored 20 or more points in the first half. Seriously. A 64-game streak. The Ducks notched first-half shutouts in only six of those 64 games. So 31-0 absolutely should have been "game over."
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Oregon’s odds of winning the game at the start of the second half were 98.7 percent. Those odds peaked at 99.1 percent late in the third quarter.
Just as astonishing: The Ducks’ offense produced a grand total of 5 passing yards and 13 rushing yards on 18 plays in the second half. Had they just found a way to score once in the second half, they would have won the game.
3. Baylor’s record-setting rushing
Here is a fun little historical nugget: In 2006, Baylor finished the season with 444 rushing yards on 236 attempts. In this season's Russell Athletic Bowl, the Bears put up 645 yards on 84 attempts.
Funny thing is, in the past decade, six more teams have failed to rush for 645 yards in a single season. In fact, two of Mike Leach’s Washington State squads (2012, 2014) made the list.
And as Jake pointed out on Twitter this week, the other six Big 12 bowl teams combined for 556 rushing yards (on 2.9 yards per carry) during this postseason.
By the way, Johnny Jefferson's 299 rushing yards were second-most by any FBS back this season behind San Jose State's Tyler Ervin (300 vs. Fresno State). Ervin logged 42 carries in his huge game. Jefferson only had 23. In the past three years, we’ve only witnessed one other back average 13+ yards/carry on 20+ carries: Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, during his 408-yard game last season.
4. Final QBR results
Let wrap up by taking one final look at QBR in the Big 12 this season. Since so many teams had to play multiple quarterbacks, we will focus on the team QBR ratings.
1. Texas Tech, 80.5 QBR
2. Oklahoma, 80.4
3. TCU, 78.7
4. Baylor, 78.6
5. Oklahoma State, 76
6. Iowa State, 57.2
7. Texas, 55.5
8. West Virginia, 53.7
9. Kansas State, 51.4
10. Kansas, 33.2
So, sure, Texas Tech and Oklahoma are basically dead-even in these metrics. So are Baylor and TCU. The drop-off after the No. 5 spot is significant. And how about Bill Snyder's squad ending up with essentially the second-worst quarterback situation in the Big 12 and still reaching a bowl game?
Here were the top five individual QBRs this season: Seth Russell, Trevone Boykin, Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes and Mason Rudolph. That sounds about right. Four of those five are coming back and should be better than ever in 2016.