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Updated Big 12 offensive and defensive drive analysis

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Texas’ offense needs to exploit a Sooners secondary that is allowing 9.7 yards per pass attempt.

Oklahoma v Iowa State Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

To help gain a better understanding of how each conference team, specifically Texas under new coordinators Chris Ash and Mike Yurcich, is performing on both sides of the ball throughout the season, I put together several drive charts involving metrics such as scoring rate, stop rate, yards per play, turnover rate, punt rate, 3rd/4th down conversion rate, big play rate, etc. I also added the strength and power index rating used by Bill Connelly to show how each team is performing on a national scale. Each week, I’m going to update the charts accordingly and provide game analysis with the data — along with what to watch for in the upcoming weekend slate of conference games.


Offensive drive ratings (through Oct. 3)

Week 3 offensive drive notes and highlights

TCU 33, Texas 31

While TCU sustained longer drives and controlled the time of possession by nearly 10 minutes, Texas had their fair share of opportunities to win, but failed to do so. For an offense that’s predicated on explosive plays, three penalties that wiped away gains of at least 25 yards really hurt Texas in this one.

There’s no question that the Horned Frogs won the battle at the line of scrimmage. They were clearly the more effective team early in downs. Our own Gerald Goodridge pointed out that TCU averaged 6.3 yards per play on first downs.

West Virginia 27, Baylor 21 (2OT)

This game turned into a battle of two teams that didn’t want to win a football game on offense. A double-overtime finish was the exact ending a game like this deserved. The quarterback play was shaky and it became a challenge for each team to run the ball. Baylor averaged less than one yard per rush attempt — 27 yards on 33 carries.

West Virginia turned the ball over five times. Baylor turned it over twice and missed two field goal attempts.

Oklahoma State 47, Kansas 7

Pure domination on both sides of the ball for Mike Gundy’s Cowboys against the Jayhawks. Quarterback Spencer Sanders’ replacement, freshman Shane Illingworth, found his rhythm in his second career start as the signal-caller. He completed 17-of-23 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. 77.8 percent of his drives led to points for Oklahoma State.

Kansas State 31, Texas Tech 21

The legend of 5’5” versatile freshman running back Deuce Vaughn continues. Thanks to his 194 total yards on 19 touches on Saturday, including a game-sealing 70-yard touchdown, the Wildcats staved off a comeback against a Tech team playing with a backup quarterback. He’s a problem to cover in space when matched up against linebackers. Kansas State leads the conference in yards per pass attempt and big plays. There’s no telling what the ceiling is for head coach Chris Klieman in Manhattan now that he’s under contract until 2026. His championship success at North Dakota State has already translated well to the Big 12.

Tech quarterback Alan Bowman left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury, which initially set their offense back in the first half. But they responded with a 21-3 run to open the second half to go-ahead 21-17 early in the fourth quarterback. Like Spencer Rattler last week against Kansas State, Tech’s backup quarterback Henry Colombi struggled in the clutch.

Iowa State 37, Oklahoma 30

The transition from 2019 to 2020 has not been easy for the Oklahoma offense. Poor line play, inability to run the ball, and costly turnovers have all attributed to their early season struggles. Yet despite the inconsistency, it’s still Oklahoma and they can strike in hurry. Replacements on the offensive line, along with being without their top two running backs sure hasn’t helped their freshman quarterback. The Sooners averaged just 2.1 yards per carry on 29 carries in the second half at Iowa State. Last year, they averaged 5.9 yards per carry in the second half of games. Further proving the point that strong offensive line play remains a necessity in order to be a complete offensive football team. Texas and Oklahoma don’t have that going for them right now.

After getting blanked in their season opening loss to Louisiana, Iowa State has scored points on 52.2 percent of their drives with NFL tight end Charlie Kolar back out there. His presence has been heavily felt in the run game as a blocker. Kolar and running back Breece Hall are arguably the best in the conference at their respective positions. If the offensive line play remains consistent, and Purdy starts to connect with his wide receivers more often, Matt Campbell’s Cyclones could be on track to play for a Big 12 championship in December. They look like the most disciplined team in the conference right now.


Defensive drive ratings (through Oct. 3)

Week 3 defensive drive notes and highlights

TCU 33, Texas 31

As Texas failed to establish an offensive identity early in downs, TCU’s secondary made life difficult for Ehlinger on predictable passing downs. TCU’s starting cornerbacks, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and Noah Daniels, allowed a combined three catches for 23 yards on 12 targets against Texas receivers, according to Pro Football Focus.

West Virginia 27, Baylor 21 (2OT)

This game had all the feels of a Big Ten November football game — sloppy offense and stout defense on both sides. In the end, the Mountaineers defense prevailed in overtime. The Stills brothers clogged up-the-middle and prevented Baylor from having any success on the ground.

The Mountaineers offense was held to just one play over 15 yards all game against Dave Aranda’s defense.

Darius Stills was named the Bednarik National Player of the Week after registering 3.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks.

Oklahoma State 47, Kansas 7

Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ unit has stifled each offense they’ve faced this season. While they’ve only played Tulsa, West Virginia, and Kansas so far, opponents are averaging less than one point per drive against the Cowboys.

Kansas State 31, Texas Tech 21

Similar to last week against Oklahoma, Kansas State’s bend-don’t-break style of defense stepped up when they needed it the most down the stretch against Texas Tech. A key three-and-out stop and an interception put the game away. They held the Red Raiders offense to 4.6 yards per play on 21 fourth quarter plays.

Iowa State 37, Oklahoma 30

Holding Oklahoma to the same amount of field goals as touchdowns helped lift Iowa State to a victory. Timely defensive stops and key turnovers swung the momentum of the game in Iowa State’s favor and their offense was able to cash in.

Too bad Texas’ offense couldn’t do the same versus TCU, as the Longhorns defense held TCU to more field goals than touchdowns.


What to watch for this weekend

Oklahoma (1-2, 0-2 Big 12) vs. No. 22 Texas (2-1, 1-1) — 11:00 a.m. Central FOX

In a matchup between two rival teams that are trending in similar directions, this is an absolute must-win game for both teams if they want to compete for a Big 12 championship this season. Ehlinger and the Texas offense could have field day through the air against an Oklahoma secondary that is allowing 9.7 yards per pass attempt. Should be an offensive shootout in the Cotton Bowl.

Without Juwan Mitchell in the middle of the Texas defense for the entire first half, keep an eye out for Oklahoma’s early gameplan to attack the middle of the field compared to when Mitchell returns to the game. Texas really missed Mitchell’s absence against TCU’s ground game last week.

According to Pro Football Focus, Oklahoma and Texas are two of the three lowest-graded tackling teams in college football, so far.

The ultimate question: Can Yurcich and Herman out-scheme the offensive mastermind himself, Lincoln Riley?

No. 24 Iowa State (2-1, 2-0) vs. Texas Tech (1-2, 0-2) — 2:30 p.m. Central ABC

Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman is listed as questionable — the competitiveness of this game likely comes down to whether Bowman plays or not. Iowa State is too good of a football team to lose at home to a backup quarterback following their hot start to Big 12 play.

TCU (1-1, 1-1) vs. Kansas State (2-1, 2-0) — 3:00 p.m. Central FOX

Ah, a matchup between Oklahoma and Texas’ purple kryptonites on the same day as the Red River Rivalry following its coverage on FOX — how fitting. Oddsmakers have TCU as an 8.5-point favorite. This chess-match coaching matchup between Klieman’s offense and Patterson’s defense should be a treat to watch.