The offseason is a good time to step back and take a look at the bigger picture.
Which Big 12 teams are efficient on offense and defense, excel on third down and consistently create turnovers? Those are just a few of the questions we’ll aim to answer during this weekly offseason series called "Stats and Trends." In this series we’re looking to expose the programs that build themselves upon certain long-term traits as opposed to riding one or two elite players to short-term excellence.
Today, we continue the series by looking at which teams are consistently efficient on defense by taking a closer look at points per drive allowed. (All stats are in Big 12 games only since TCU and West Virginia joined the conference in 2012 via ESPN Stats and Information.)
1. TCU, 1.61: Four seasons in the Big 12 and TCU has cemented a spot as the Big 12’s top defense. Gary Patterson’s team has held opponents without a first down or touchdown on 39.7 percent of drives since joining the conference. While the offense has been up-and-down during the four years, the defense has constantly provided a foundation to build upon even as stars and key contributors come and go.
2. Oklahoma, 1.71: The Sooners returned to their strong tradition of defense in 2015, leading the conference at 1.39 points per drive allowed on their way to another Big 12 title. Oklahoma has been particularly good against the pass, allowing a Big 12-low 6.77 passing yards per attempt during this span.
3. Oklahoma State, 1.87: The Cowboys earned a spot among the Big 12’s best defenses despite facing a conference-high 2,888 plays during this span. Oklahoma State didn’t land atop the conference in any of the major categories but consistently sits among the top half of the conference and led the Big 12 with 367 opponent run plays that ended with zero or negative yardage.
4. Texas, 1.88: The Longhorns were the Big 12’s top pass rushing defense with 112 sacks, 19 more than second-place Oklahoma and 37 more than the conference average of 75. Texas is second since Charlie Strong’s arrival with its 1.65 points per drive allowed (tied with Oklahoma) and 0.02 behind first-place TCU. As Strong continues to add his guys to the unit, Texas could continue to rise up this list.
5. Kansas State, 2.03: The Wildcats earned their spot by forcing turnovers, ranking second in the Big 12 with 76 takeaways during this span. K-State recovered 29 fumbles and grabbed 47 interceptions, ranking second in both categories, to help the Wildcats post an eye-popping 29 turnover margin. Baylor, at 14, was second in turnover margin.
6. Baylor, 2.04: The Bears run defense has been stout, allowing 3.88 yards per carry during this span but their opponent redzone touchdown percentage (72.7, ninth) left plenty to be desired. Baylor also left some opportunities on the field as it forced a Big 12-best 41 fumbles yet only recovered 26 fumbles.
7. West Virginia, 2.17: The Mountaineers rank fourth in this category (1.68) during the past two seasons with Tony Gibson running the defense, sitting ahead of Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State. West Virginia’s 5.33 yards per play during the past two seasons is third in the Big 12 ahead of TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma State.
8. Iowa State, 2.46: The Cyclones allowed opponents to average 36.3 yards per drive, the worst average in the conference. Iowa State was particularly poor on third down, allowing 43.1 percent of attempts to be converted. New coach Matt Campbell has plenty to work on with Year 1 looming.
9. Kansas, 2.7: The Jayhawks allowed 8.28 passing yards per attempt and 5.33 rushing yards per attempts to rank last in both categories. One bright spot was Kansas’ 13 takeaways in the red zone but the Jayhawks were in the bottom third in most major categories.
10. Texas Tech, 2.73: Landing at the bottom of the Big 12 speaks volumes for how strong the Red Raiders offense has performed to win 27 games while also underlining the obstacle that stands between Texas Tech and a Big 12 title. It’s staggering to think Tech has allowed almost a field goal per drive for four years. The fact the Red Raiders had four different defensive coordinators during this span probably didn’t help matters.