There are, as they say, lies, damn lies, and statistics. The numbers mean something, yet often we know not what. Here SMQ will look at the final regular season statistics in more than a dozen major categories to suss out who succeeded in what and how that statistical success correlated to overall success in terms of final record. SMQ does not have the luxury of a high-powered supercomputer or degree-type qualification in mathematics or statistics, but his analysis will be driven as deep as his egghead, tinfoil cap curiosity and cell phone calculator will take it. That is to say, quasi-scientific at best
Part One: Which stats most closely correlate with success?
Part Two: What do the best teams do best?
Part Three: ACC Game-by-Game Results
Part Four: Big East Game-by-Game Results
Part Five: Big Ten Game-by-Game Results
Part Six: Big XII Game-by-Game Results
The Method: SMQ used ESPN box scores to pull out specific numbers from all 49 conference games played among Big Twelve teams this season, and developed a winning percentage for each of eleven major statistical categories. That is, if the winning team outgained its opponent running the ball, that game was marked as a "victory" for the rush offense category; if the loser had a higher conversion rate on third down, the game was marked as a "defeat" for the third down efficiency category (the stats below are listed in offensive form, but the records are identical as from a defense-centric point of view). And so on for each of the categories in each game until the supply of competitive examples was dry. After which each category's "record" was added up to determine its correlation to victory among the group as a whole.
The quick and dirty, portable results:
|1.||3rd Down Efficiency||.787|
|2.||Yards Per Pass||.714|
|5.||First to Score||.674|
|7.||Time of Possession||.646|
|8.||Yards Per Carry||.625|
OCD version and analysis follows the jump.
|Stat Category||Win %||Stat Category||Win %|
|Total Offense||.708 (34-14)||Yards Per Carry||.625 (30-18)|
|> 500||6-2||> 6.0||6-2|
|450-499||6-2||5.5 - 5.9||2-5|
|400-449||12-2||5.0 - 5.4||8-5|
|350-399||12-17||4.5 - 4.9||10-2|
|300-349||10-12||4.0 - 4.4||7-6|
|250-299||2-6||3.5 - 3.9||10-4|
|< 250||1-8||3.0 - 3.4||3-7|
|Pass Offense||.458 (22-26)||< 3.0||3-18|
|> 400||2-2||Yards Per Pass||.714 (35-14)|
|300-349||9-7||10.0 - 11.9||9-2|
|250-299||9-10||8.0 - 9.9||17-4|
|200-249||8-7||6.0 - 7.9||15-22|
|150-199||10-9||4.0 - 5.9||6-16|
|< 150||9-14||< 4.0||1-5|
|Rush Offense||.667 (32-16)||Third Down Efficiency||.787 (37-10)|
|> 300||1-0||> 70%||-|
|250-299||4-4||60 - 69%||8-1|
|200-249||9-5||50 - 59%||18-3|
|150-199||18-8||40 - 49%||8-9|
|100-149||11-8||30 - 39%||7-15|
|< 50||4-14||Turnover Margin||.676 (25-12)|
|Penalty Yards||.435 (20-26)||+ 2||8-6|
|Time of Possession||.646 (31-17)||0||11-11|
|First to Score||.674 (33-16)||-2||6-8|
|Home Team||.575 (27-20)|
Discrepancies in some totals are due to ties or virtual ties in a couple games per category, and there were two neutral site games (Texas-Oklahoma and the conference championship). The presence of time of possession information for the Big XII, unlike the first three conferences SMQ reviewed, was consistent.
A lot of old school coaching platitudes in play here, except - per the emerging rule - where penalty yards are concerned: show balance offensively with an emphasis on the run, hang on to the ball both by converting third downs and not turning it over and get on top early. The third down conversion rate was the most consistently telling: offenses that cracked 50 percent were 26-4 (though none of the losses came against other 50 percent converters), a better showing than the top of any other category, with the possible exception of the fewer teams that averaged double digits per pass. Not that the two are necessarily unrelated.
The apparent irrelevance of big passing could be passed off as a result of those numbers being disproportionately attached to the league's two most pass happy teams, Baylor and Texas Tech, which combined for a 7-9 record in conference games. But the only truly "run-oriented" offenses, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, were just 8-8, and OSU had a ridiculous passing day in a win at Kansas. So chalk it up as usual to the "we're-passing-cuz-we're-losing" effect, however less successful those efforts were here than in other leagues. The passing prowess of Big XII quarterbacks is also suspect: the best were Zac Taylor, Chase Daniel, Graham Harrell, Colt McCoy and, when healthy, Shawn Bell, none of them the second coming of Peyton Manning.
Part Seven: PAC Ten Game-by-Game Results