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2020 Season

Most Improved, Least Improved Big 12 Offenses In 2020

Which Big 12 teams put forward stronger performances in 2020, and which ones regressed?

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The Big12 logo on the chains during an NCAA football game - Getty Images - Icon Sportswire
Getty Images - Icon Sportswire

Now that the 2020 season is firmly behind us, it’s as good a time as any to review the numbers from last season to get some perspective on which teams improved, and which did not. Below is a ranking of all ten teams in the Big 12, with the offenses that made the most strides offensively from 2019 to 2020 at the top, and those that saw some dropoff closer to the bottom. The statistics used here are from conference play only, something that gives us a picture of how Big 12 teams did against each other from season to season.

This ranking prioritizes points per game as the most important factor when ranking different teams. There are of course a lot of ways to look at these numbers, and a review of advanced statistics would probably yield a slightly different outlook. The numbers below do give us a broad sense for which teams were better on offense, and which teams took a step back. Baylor and Kansas, for example, were definitively in the latter category, and, not surprisingly, those teams went a combined 2-15 in Big 12 play.

Something else to keep in mind is that this ranking prioritizes year-to-year change, meaning that a team – like West Virginia, for example – that was not especially elite in either 2019 or 2020, but made big improvements, will be near the top of the list.

1. Texas

Big 12 PPGPass YPGPass PCTPass TDRush YPGRush YPCRush TD
201932.1278.462.018179.94.818
202039.1248.159.120180.24.917

It seems odd that a team which just fired one coach and hired his replacement should find themselves at the top of this list, but offense wasn’t exactly a problem for the Longhorns in 2020. If you look at statistics like yardage and touchdowns, Texas’ offense wasn’t that different in 2019 than it was in 2020. The biggest difference is in points per game, though, where the Longhorns improved by a whole seven points, more than any other team in the Big 12. Three overtime games certainly inflates the numbers here, but even without points scored in overtime, at 35.6 points per game, the Longhorns would still have the most improved scoring offense.

2. Iowa State

Big 12 PPGPass YPGPass PCTPass TDRush YPGRush YPCRush TD
201932.3307.963.621126.44.017
202034.7259.568.919195.45.426

There’s a good argument to be made that the Cyclones had the most improved offense in the Big 12 this season. It didn’t show up as much in points, but the Iowa State rushing attack really exploded in 2020, improving by 69 yards per game. That can be attributed to the emergence of Breece Hall as one of the best backs in the country, a trend that we should continue to extend into next season. The Cyclones have some room to improve in their passing attack, although having such a high completion percentage was no doubt a positive last year. With ten starters returning on the offensive side of the ball, Iowa State is poised to make another leap in 2021.

3. West Virginia

Big 12 PPGPass YPGPass PCTPass TDRush YPGRush YPCRush TD
201919.6256.863.51571.32.64
202023.1275.063.310122.53.510

The Mountaineers quietly made strides on offense in 2020, something that is likely attributable to the emergence of a stronger running game with Leddie Brown leading the charge. Yards per carry went up almost a yard, and passing yards improved with Jaret Doege at quarterback for most of the season. West Virginia has most everyone coming back on this side of the ball next season, so fans should be looking forward to even more improvement in 2021.

4. Oklahoma State

Big 12 PPGPass YPGPass PCTPass TDRush YPGRush YPCRush TD
201928.1216.363.712219.95.116
202031.0243.059.114200.74.415

Despite significant injuries to some of their best offensive players, the Pokes’ scoring offense was actually slightly better last season. Under first year offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn, Oklahoma State were a field goal better as compared to 2019, and the passing numbers were slightly better. There was some drop-off from the 5.1 yards per carry in 2019, but the Cowboys managed to have another Top 40-caliber offensive attack. Oklahoma State will have some attrition to work through this offseason though, with multiple starters headed out the door on that side of the ball.

5. TCU

Big 12 PPGPass YPGPass PCTPass TDRush YPGRush YPCRush TD
201928.1210.855.510185.14.516
202028.4200.259.110201.64.817

Despite losing some of their best rushers from 2019, the Horned Frogs were slightly better on the ground last season. Of course, having quarterback Max Duggan back for his sophomore season and highly touted running back Zach Evans in the backfield was helpful in that effort. The emergence of Darwin Barlow was a pleasant surprise for the Horned Frogs, but even better was the fact that their top rushers return next season, so TCU could very well see another bump in these numbers in 2021.

6. Oklahoma

Big 12 PPGPass YPGPass PCTPass TDRush YPGRush YPCRush TD
201940.6288.368.723238.65.822
202041.1303.667.822157.64.123

Even though they had the best offense in the Big 12 once again last season, the Sooners regressed just slightly in terms of yardage, even though they actually averaged a half point more per game. What in particular should not surprise anyone who watched Oklahoma last year is that the running game in particular did not perform at its 2019 level. Obviously, a variety of losses in the offensive backfield contributed there. Getting running back Kennedy Brooks back should help the Sooners in 2021, when aspirations are sure to be high.

7. Texas Tech

Big 12 PPGPass YPGPass PCTPass TDRush YPGRush YPCRush TD
201929.9319.164.318143.74.213
202028.4248.663.916159.34.914

In terms of points per game, the Red Raiders’ season in 2020 wasn’t that different from the year before. Texas Tech’s pass offense last season was much more average at 248.6 yards per game than it was the year before. The running game did improve, of course, to 4.9 yards per carry, but it’s still not exactly a surprise that head coach Matt Wells went out and got a new offensive coordinator after last season. Still, the offense wasn’t exactly bad in 2020, and in his first year on the job Sonny Cumbie will have experienced players to work with.

8. Kansas State

Big 12 PPGPass YPGPass PCTPass TDRush YPGRush YPCRush TD
201926.2189.457.08158.74.016
202026.1174.954.810158.44.515

The Wildcats didn’t so much regress in 2020 as not really improve from their previous year’s numbers. Of course, considering everything they lost from the season before as well as the in-season loss of Skylar Thompson, Kansas State probably outperformed expectations by just managing to maintain the same type of offensive production as a year before. Their rushing yards per carry went up a half a yard, a testament to how well an inexperienced offensive line played last season. With nine starters back on offense in 2021, the Wildcats should certainly expect to surpass even the 2019 numbers if they stay healthy.

9. Kansas

Big 12 PPGPass YPGPass PCTPass TDRush YPGRush YPCRush TD
201922.6243.657.820127.14.36
202014.9150.054.0595.82.48

In all honesty, Kansas would probably be last if we took into account the fact that any college football team can only get so much worse from year to year. Even the worst offenses in FBS usually are able to score somewhere in the teens, so 14.9 points per game is about as close to rock bottom as it’s possible to get. That should hold out a glimmer of hope for fans of the Jayhawks, because it means there’s a decent chance these numbers could go up a little in 2021. Losing Pooka Williams visibly hurt Kansas, as their yards per carry were almost halved from 4.3 to 2.4. Finding and development a like talent should be a major goal for Les Miles’ staff.

10. Baylor

Big 12 PPGPass YPGPass PCTPass TDRush YPGRush YPCRush TD
201932.7264.063.813163.84.423
202023.3219.961.91490.32.78

The Bears find themselves at the bottom of this list after Dave Aranda’s first year as head coach. A look at the numbers here shows why, despite inheriting a group of productive offensive pieces, Aranda let go of one coordinator after only a single season. The Bears scored almost ten points less per game in 2020, and the running game really took a hit. Their 90.3 yards per game was the worst in the Big 12 last season, and the amount of rushing touchdowns scored dwindled into the single digits. Hope is on the horizon for Baylor, however, as Jeff Grimes comes over from a BYU offense that averaged 43.5 points per game last year. The Bears should at the very least be better in 2021, but with a multi-year starter at quarterback gone, the question is over how high their ceiling might be.

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