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# Stats Relevance Watch, Part Six: Into the Trees In the Big XII

Wherein SMQ examines 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. I do not have the luxury of a high-powered supercomputer or degree-type qualification in mathematics or statistics, but analysis here will be driven as deep as my egghead, tinfoil cap curiosity and cell phone calculator will take it. That is to say, quasi-scientific at best. If you've ever said "the only number that matters is the one on the scoreboard" or anything to such effect, click here and don't be such a philistine.
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Part One: Which stats correlate most closely with winning?
Part Two: What do the best teams do the 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 Sixr: Big XII Game-by-Game Results

Here I'm looking for what I've referred to previously as "the forest," the big-picture, macro look at the correlation of statistics to winning on a game-by-game basis. To do that, I'm looking hard at game-by-game data (using very useful box scores from ESPN) in each BCS conference to put into a catch-all chart covering hundreds of games. Here are the results from the 2006 season, with each conference's results linked therein; they're also linked on the left sidebar.

For each of the 49 games played among Big XII teams last year, I developed a winning percentage for each of eleven major statistical categories (the stats below are listed in offensive form, but merely flip the records for a defense-centric point of view) as well as a pair of "control" categories, "home team" and "first to score." For example, 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. And so on for each of the categories in each game until the supply of examples was dry. At that point, each category's "record" was added up to determine its correlation to victory among the group as a whole. Not every category adds up to 49 games because of rare ties or virtual ties.

The one very distinctive feature of the Big XII was its staggering offensive prowess, or lack of defense, if you prefer, which easily outpaced every conference in the country. This was true when it came to scoring and yards, and especially true when it came to passing yards, where three conference offenses (Texas Tech, Nebraska and Missouri) finished in the top in passing yards and seven finished in the top 40; the only Big XII offense that ran for more yards than it passed was Texas A&M (Oklahoma State was dead even: 243.15 per game rushing, 243.15 per game passing). No other league threw it as often or as effectively.

So what actually won games in the Big XII? Why, ball control, naturally.

 Category Win % Record Turnover Margin .900 36-4 3rd Down % .864 38-6 Rush Yards .813 39-9 Yards/Rush .771 37-11 Yards/Pass .771 37-11 Total Yards .714 35-14 Yards/Play .714 35-14 First Downs .708 34-14 Time of Possession .667 32-16 First to Score .653 32-17 Home Team .630 29-17 Fewest Penalty Yards .541 20-17 Pass Yards .479 23-25

When everybody's busy throwing it around, the prolific passing games tend to cancel each other out, I guess. What counted according to the numbers was protecting the ball and moving the chains; in the passing game, efficiency trumped yardage by a mile.

Run it up or go home, that's what Mike Leach always says.
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Remember, though, correlation, not causation - a lot of that has to do with the league's unusually high penchant for lopsided games that led to one team running late while the other passed frantically trying to come from behind. A while back, I figured the average margin in Big XII games in 2007 was a whopping 19.6 points per game, more than five points higher than the average margin in any other BCS conference, and only twelve of 49 games ended with the loser within one score of the winner, again far worse than any other conference. These are just a few of the scores the Big XII gave us last fall (sorry, Nebraska fans):
Texas Tech 35, Texas A&M 7
Missouri 41, Texas Tech 10
Oklahoma 42, Texas A&M 14
Texas 59, Texas Tech 43