Wednesday, March 01, 2017

2016 Adjusted Pythagorean Record: Big 12

Last week, we looked at how Big 12 teams fared in terms of yards per play. This week, we turn our attention to how the season played out in terms of the Adjusted Pythagorean Record, or APR. For an in-depth look at APR, click here. If you didn’t feel like clicking, here is the Reader’s Digest version. APR looks at how well a team scores and prevents touchdowns. Non-offensive touchdowns, field goals, extra points, and safeties are excluded. The ratio of offensive touchdowns to touchdowns allowed is converted into a winning percentage. Pretty simple actually.

Once again, here are the 2016 Big 12 standings.
And here are the APR standings with conference rank in offensive touchdowns, touchdowns allowed, and APR in parentheses. This includes conference games only.
Finally, the Big 12 teams are sorted by the difference between their actual number of wins and their expected number of wins according to APR.
I use a game and a half as a line of demarcation to determine if teams drastically over or under perform their APR. By that standard, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State outperformed their APR and Texas underperformed. The culprit in all three instances is pretty easy to identify: close game record. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State combined to go 6-0 in one-score conference games (3-0 each) and Texas finished with a 2-4 in such games. If one or two of those losses had flipped in favor of the Longhorns (particularly the Kansas game), perhaps Charlie Strong would have gotten one more season in Austin.

This will come as a shock to no one, but Oklahoma had a pretty good offense in 2016. The Sooners led the Big 12 in yards per play and offensive touchdowns while averaging a sterling 43.9 points per game. Of course, the Big 12 has a reputation as a laissez-faire, defense optional conference, so most would expect the Sooners to put up a lot of yards, touchdowns, and points. How good was the Oklahoma offense compared to other recent Big 12 offensive juggernauts? Glad you asked. I have compiled APR data back through the 2005 season, so without further ado, I give you the top-five Big 12 offenses by sorted by offensive touchdowns scored in conference games.
Since Big 12 teams have played nine conference games since 2011 (and eight before that) we have to level the playing field by counting offensive touchdowns per game instead of raw offensive touchdown totals. Still, the recent incarnation of Oklahoma was pretty strong. Baker Mayfield, Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, and Dede Westbrook were the leaders of a dynamic offense. The other offenses on this list are equally regarded. The 2008 version of Oklahoma scored more than 50 points nine times in fourteen games and allowed quarterback Sam Bradford to be sacked just twelve times all season. Texas won the national title in 2005 behind the play of Vince Young. Texas Tech enjoyed perhaps their finest season in school history in 2008 complete with an epic win against Texas courtesy of Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell. Oklahoma State nearly played for the national championship in 2011 with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon shredding Big 12 defenses. And finally, Oklahoma circa 2015 was not too bad either. The Sooners rebounded from a disappointing 2014 and qualified for the second College Football Playoff with many of the same skill players who would lead the 2016 team.

But wait you say. What about those Baylor offenses from a few years ago? Where do they rank? With that in mind, let’s adjust these numbers a bit. Instead of ranking the teams by the offensive touchdowns they averaged per game, let’s take that average and see how it compared to the environment they played in. Standard deviation can tell us how far above or below average something is. With that in mind, here are the top-five Big 12 offenses sorted by the number of standard deviations above average they were in terms of offensive touchdowns per game.
Once we factor the environment in, Vince Young’s Texas squad rises to the top. Sam Bradford and company played in a more wide open Big 12 where each team averaged more than an additional touchdown per game. Once we adjust for environment, a two Baylor teams join the party. However, it is interesting to note that neither one of these teams was quarterbacked by Robert Griffin. This past year’s version of Oklahoma remains on the list and can therefore make a claim to being the third best Big 12 offense of the last twelve years. They are a notch below 2005 Texas and 2008 Oklahoma, but the 2016 Sooners were a historically great offense.

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