Saturday, July 27, 2013

2013 Big 12 Preview

In the ongoing conference preview saga, we turn our attention to the Big 12. Thanks to the depth of the conference, the Big 12 will be hard-pressed to put a team in the BCS National Championship Game, but the race for the league crown should be open and exciting.

October Fade
The Tommy Tuberville era at Texas Tech will certainly be remembered as a huge disappointment. While the Red Raiders went to, and won, a pair of bowl games in Tuberville's three seasons, his Texas Tech teams posted a cumulative 9-17 record in Big 12 play. By comparison, in the final three seasons of Mike Leach's tenure, the Red Raiders went 16-8 against their Big 12 foes and the Red Raiders had only one losing conference record under him (a 3-5 mark in his first season in 2000). Perhaps more disconcerting was that under Tuberville, the Red Raiders stumbled to the finish each season. From September through much of October, the Red Raiders were a perfectly decent Big 12 team, posting a 7-6 conference record over three seasons. However, beginning with the last weekend in October and carrying on the rest of the season, the Red Raiders were just 2-11 in Big 12 play under Tuberville. What happened? Why did the team struggle so much as the season wore on. I don't know that I can ascertain the why, but I can certainly show the what. The table below lists Texas Tech's per play conference numbers in the September through most of October portion of their seasons.
As stated above, the Red Raiders appear to be a perfectly average team. They have a small edge in per play numbers on their opponents and a mediocre 7-6 mark to go with it. Now here is what happened beginning with the last weekend in October.
The offense got a little worse, but the defense played like a IAA school in the SEC, allowing an average of nearly seven yards per play over a 13-game sample size! Vegas obviously can't get a handle on the Red Raiders either. Texas Tech was 7-5-1 Against the Spread (ATS) versus the Big 12 from September through most of October, but just 2-11 ATS versus the Big 12 beginning with the last weekend in October under Tuberville. It will be interesting to see if Kliff Kingsbury can keep the Red Raiders from fading down the stretch for a fourth year in a row.

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