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A Closer Look: The Final Six Big 12 Conference Games

Goody goody. Numbers and such. First things first, you can check my math here. I think the turnover numbers are not 100% accurate. I was getting tired and sometimes counting up to 6 and then subtracting 6 or less became confusing and tiresome. I'll make any revisions as needed or as requested.

What we have here are the last six games of conference play for every team of the Big 12. I ranked the teams according to total yards, but even if you ranked the teams in total yards given up, Texas Tech, despite what some have said, did not have the best defense the last 6 games of the year.

1 MISSOURI 27.00 121.17 235.00 356.17 1.00
2 OKLAHOMA 18.33 123.17 238.50 361.67 0.67
3 KANSAS 22.50 102.83 293.67 396.50 1.67
4 TEXAS 40.33 89.17 310.00 399.17 0.17
5 TEXAS TECH 28.67 195.17 206.00 401.17 (1.33)
6 IOWA ST. 34.67 160.33 274.00 434.33 (1.50)
7 KANSAS ST. 42.00 152.33 295.50 447.83 2.17
8 OKLAHOMA ST. 32.83 199.17 263.83 463.00 1.50
9 COLORADO 38.27 154.17 316.67 470.84 (0.33)
10 TAMU 30.00 170.83 313.00 483.83 0.17
11 BAYLOR 45.83 202.83 291.17 494.00 (2.50)
12 NEBRASKA 46.83 273.83 238.33 512.16 (2.33)
- TOTAL 33.94 162.08 272.97 435.06 (0.05)

I would agree that the Texas Tech defense has certainly improved under Ruffin McNeill, however, I think it's safe to say that the defense is still quite a bit away from being the best in the conference.  Texas Tech wasn't bad, but they weren't great either. Really bad games against Missouri and Texas hurt quite a bit, but the defense started strong against TAMU, rebounded rather nicely against Baylor (I know, who doesn't, and Oklahoma). I liked the fact that Texas Tech was relatively stingy with the points given up, but we all know the rushing yards given up is too much.

The other interesting tidbit was that during this 6 game stretch, Texas Tech did not have a postive turnover margin for all 6 games and was still able to finish 3-3. This is especially impressive if you compare this to a team like Kansas, who was ahead in the turnover battle for 5 of the 6 games, but lost to Missouri (-2). Holding onto the ball is why Kansas won, while Texas Tech still seemed to win despite the turnovers.  That's something that tends to be the norm under Captain Leach, but there were games where the turnover was so much (Missouri and Colorado) that it was too much to overcome. 

Missouri and Oklahoma are almost identical in terms of defensive performance in terms of total yards, but OU was more stingy in giving up points. The two best teams in the conference are both excellent defensive teams. Quite a coincidence.

Kansas, Texas and Texas Tech, again all gave up almost similar total yards. Kansas was pretty good against the rush and pretty good against the pass, but was second best in the conference in giving up points. Meanwhile, Texas was awesome against the run, awful against the pass and gave up a ton of points down the stretch. Change defensive coordinator. Check.

Again, I want to emphasize that Texas Tech wasn't bad these 6 games, and essentially they were within 5 yards or so of being in the 3rd place spot with Kansas, but the rushing numbers are a killer.

Perhaps the most eye-opening numbers were the totals. In the last 6 conference games, the Big 12 was giving up an average of 33 points a game, 162 yards rushing anad 272 yards passing? That's just insane. Sort of a chicken or the egg argument as to if the offenses are just that good or if the defenses were just that bad? Keep in mind that 4 teams gave up over 40 points a game in this 6 game stretch.

While looking at these numbers it got me wondering if the Big 12's supposed "great offense, but not great defense" tag was justified I ran the numbers from last year for the Big Ten, SEC and Big 12. Keep in mind that these numbers include all games, not just conference statistics.

Conference Points Against Rush Yards Pass Yards Total Yards
Big Ten 24.07 141.10 225.10 430.40
SEC 23.80 148.22 205.35 406.72
Big 12 27.8 144.59 251.13 431.09

It's obviously the passing yards that's the difference as each conference is relatively close in terms of rushing defense, but it is clear that the Big 12 does like to get it's pass-on, but more surprising is that the total yards with the Big 12 and Big Ten are quite comparable. I never would have guessed that. I don't think the SEC numbers surprise anyone, other than the fact that 200 yards given up through the air is pretty amazing.

I'm still not sure I can account for the ridiculous numbers the last 6 conference games of the season for the Big 12. Perhaps the teams got tired down the stretch, or perhaps its natural for these numbers to be up in conference play.