Last time we previewed the Big 10, which now has 12 teams, and this week we take a look at what the coming season may have in store for the Big 12, which now has 10 teams. Give the Big 12 credit, they will crown a true champion in 2011, as their conference schedule now consists of 9 games, meaning it is a true round-robin format. Enjoy the Big 12 while you can because we'll probably be seeing another seismic realignment shift in the college football landscape very soon. To check out last year's Big 12 projections, follow this link.
Mr. Griffin Goes to Waco
For anyone who follows college football closely, what I am about to type is as obvious as Jim Tressel's culpability: Robert Griffin means a whole lot to Baylor. For those who may not know, Robert Griffin is the fleet-footed Baylor quarterback, who last season helped lead the Bears to their first bowl game since 1994, and first ever season of at least a .500 record in Big 12 play. While Griffin did play for the Bears in 2009, he was injured in the season's third game and did not take a snap during conference play. Without him, the Bears endured through a typical Baylor season, finishing 1-7 versus the conference, with just one loss coming by fewer than single digits. The Bears relative emergence in the Big 12 in 2010 was entirely a result of their offensive improvement under Griffin. The defense ranked 11th in SDPI in the Big 12 in 2009 and a marginally better 10th in 2010. However, the offense improved from 10th in the Big 12 in SDPI in 2009 to 2nd in 2010 with Griffin at the controls. Instead of merely focusing on SDPI, I wanted to look at how much more often Baylor scored in 2010. While yards (the measure of SDPI) are a key contributing factor to points, scoring touchdowns is focus of every offense. With that in mind, take a look at the following table which lists offensive touchdowns for Big 12 teams in conference play in 2009 and 2010.
Baylor ranked dead last in the Big 12 in 2009, scoring just 11 offensive touchdowns in 8 conference games. In 2010, they improved their offensive output by an amazing 23 touchdowns (nearly 3 additional offensive touchdowns per game). One man made the difference between the basement and mediocrity.