<
>

Ranking Big 12 defenses through analytics

Total defense and scoring defense have forever been the statistics widely used to evaluate defenses.

But any more in college football, they only tell a small portion of the story.

With the rise of the hurry-up offense, some defenses have to face more plays or defend more possessions than others. By default, a defense that has to defend 100 plays is usually going to give up more yards and points than the defense that has to defend 70 plays.

With that in mind, ESPN Stats & Information keeps track of a pair of metrics that better define how a defense performs: The yards a defense allows per play; and the points a defense gives up per drive. Factor in a third category -- turnovers gained -- and you have a better account of who is actually playing good defense. And who is not.

Below, we will examine those three statistics and average them out to provide a more accurate representation of Big 12 defense rankings for 2014 (also, in the interest of keeping a level playing field, only conference games were evaluated):

Yards per play

  • 1. Texas: 4.83

  • 2. West Virginia: 5.28

  • 3. TCU: 5.41

  • 4. Kansas State: 5.51

  • 5. Oklahoma: 5.58

  • 6. Baylor: 5.70

  • 7. Oklahoma State: 5.94

  • 8. Kansas: 6.31

  • 9. Texas Tech: 6.63

  • 10. Iowa State: 6.81

Points per drive

  • 1. Texas: 1.30

  • 2. TCU: 1.50

  • 3. West Virginia: 1.65

  • 4. Kansas State: 1.73

  • 5. Oklahoma: 1.92

  • 6. Baylor: 1.99

  • 7. Oklahoma State: 2.40

  • 8. Kansas: 2.47

  • 9. Iowa State: 2.82

  • 10. Texas Tech: 2.98

Turnovers gained

  • 1. TCU: 26

  • 2. Baylor: 19

  • 3. Kansas State: 18

  • 4 (tie). Kansas: 15

  • 4 (tie). Texas : 15

  • 6. Iowa State: 14

  • 7. Texas Tech: 13

  • 8 (tie). Oklahoma: 11

  • 8 (tie). West Virginia: 11

  • 10. Oklahoma State: 9

Taking average placement for the three above categories, this is how the overall defensive rankings shake out:

  • 1. TCU: 2.0 (average rank)

  • 2. Texas: 2.2 (average rank)

  • 3. Kansas State: 3.7

  • 4. West Virginia: 4.5

  • 5. Baylor: 4.7

  • 6. Oklahoma: 6.2

  • 7. Kansas: 6.8

  • 8. Oklahoma State : 8.0

  • 9. Iowa State: 8.3

  • 10. Texas Tech: 8.7