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Big 12 Stats and Trends: Offensive yards per play

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. We’re looking to reveal 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 highlighting which offenses are a handful to slow down with a look at offensive yards per play. (All stats are in Big 12 games only, since TCU and West Virginia joined the conference in 2012, via ESPN Stats & Information.)

1. Baylor, 6.62: Don’t expect the Bears to relinquish this top spot anytime soon. The Bears led the conference with 8.95 yards per pass attempt and ranked second at 4.95 yards per carry during this span. Baylor is extremely balanced and explosive on offense, and now has NFL-bound athletes all over the field.

2. Oklahoma, 6.46: Lincoln Riley took over as offensive coordinator for the 2015 season and the result was an average of 7.04 yards per play, Oklahoma’s best average during this span. Riley’s offense had an explosive passing game (9.32 yards per pass attempt) while remaining balanced (5.5 yards per carry).

3. Texas Tech, 6.29: The Red Raiders have a big-play offense, leading the Big 12 with 45.2 percent of their offensive plays resulting in 5 yards or more and 24.2 percent of their offensive plays resulting in 10 yards or more. Kliff Kingsbury’s team could be even better in 2016 with an experienced Patrick Mahomes running the attack.

4. TCU, 6.05: The fact the Horned Frogs landed in the top half of the Big 12 reveals just how good TCU has been since Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie arrived to run the offense prior to the 2014 season. The Horned Frogs averaged 6.8 yards per play during the past two seasons to lead the Big 12. During the previous two seasons, TCU’s 5.22 average ranked eighth in the league.

5. Oklahoma State, 5.98: The Cowboys have been searching for a running game for years, evidenced by their 3.95 yards per carry during this span. Yet Oklahoma State’s 8.08 yards per pass attempt, which ranks third, saves the Cowboys offense while making it one of the conference’s most explosive units.

6. Kansas State, 5.84: The Wildcats were doing just fine until an 4.72 yards per play average in 2015 dragged them down into the bottom half of the conference. K-State’s 6.24 yards per play average during the three previous seasons was third in the Big 12. A return to an efficient offense could mean a return to Big 12 title contention.

7. West Virginia, 5.76: Dana Holgorsen has a reputation for gunslinging offenses, yet the Mountaineers ranked third in the Big 12 with a 4.57 yards per carry average while averaging more rushes per game (41.72) than pass attempts (38.56). The Mountaineers are middle-of-the-road in pretty much every category, not separating themselves as particularly explosive or staggeringly inept.

8. Texas, 5.47: The Longhorns are in the bottom third of the conference in several categories, including yards per pass attempt (6.95, eighth), percentage of plays resulting in a first down or touchdown (27.8, eighth) and percentage of plays resulting in 10 yards or more (18.3, eighth). It's been a long time since Texas fielded one of the conference's top offenses.

9. Iowa State, 5.03: Only Kansas’ terrible offensive output keeps Iowa State from being a Big 12 outlier as a toothless attack. Iowa State ranks ninth in most categories, including yards per pass attempt (6.04) and percentage of plays resulting in zero or negative yards (36.7) and percentage of plays for 5 yards or more (38.3).

10. Kansas, 4.39: There’s not much positive to say about the Jayhawks, who finished at the bottom of the conference at 5.75 yards per pass attempt and 3.37 rushing yards per carry. David Beaty’s first season wasn’t much better as Kansas averaged 4.09 yards per play while playing three different quarterbacks and a bunch of true freshmen. Beaty has taken over play-calling duties with an eye on changing the Jayhawks' fortunes in the fall.