by Brian Fremeau
Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield is the presumptive Heisman Trophy favorite in the stretch run of the season. His November included victories over Big 12 contenders Oklahoma State and TCU; a total of 14 touchdown passes and only two interceptions; a cumulative 69.1 percent completion rate; and an average of 13.4 yards per attempt. Against West Virginia in Oklahoma's regular season finale on Saturday, Mayfield completed 14 of 17 passes (82.4 percent) for 281 yards (16.5 yards per attempt) with three touchdowns and zero picks. Those numbers, and Oklahoma's prominence in the College Football Playoff hunt, should easily garner Mayfield the lion's share of Heisman votes.
The Sooners offense has been firing on all cylinders this year, and has been virtually unstoppable at times. Against West Virginia, the Sooners had six first-half possessions in which they took an offensive snap, and they scored a touchdown on all six drives. They also scored a touchdown on each of their first two drives of the second half, before finally punting for the first (and only) time with less than 13 minutes left in the game. In terms of opponent-adjusted offensive efficiency, Oklahoma's performance against the Mountaineers ranks as the third-best single-game offensive performance of the year. It was the Sooners' eighth single-game offensive performance that ranks in the 90th percentile of all offensive games played this season against FBS opponents.
The game vaulted Oklahoma's overall offensive efficiency ratings as well. They were already ranked No. 1 in most offensive categories heading into last weekend, but then they expanded their advantage over the field significantly. Oklahoma's OFEI rating this week is 4.20 -- that is, adjusted for starting field position, expected scoring rates, and the strength of the defenses Oklahoma faced, the Sooners had an adjusted per-possession scoring rate of 4.2 points per drive attributed to the offense alone. The second best offense in that category this year is their rival, Oklahoma State, with a 3.67 OFEI rating. The difference between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in this metric is greater than the difference between Oklahoma State and the 12th-best OFEI rating for Florida Atlantic (3.20).
The Sooners have earned 68.3 percent of available yards this year, measured from starting field position to end zone. That's the highest mark in my FEI database since Boise State in 2010 (68.5 percent). Their 51.6 percent touchdown rate on non-garbage drives in the highest rating since Florida State in 2013 (53.2 percent), and their 62.9 percent OTF (touchdown percentage on drives that earn at least one first down) also ranks as the best since the Seminoles in 2013. That offense also earned its starting quarterback, Jameis Winston, a Heisman Trophy.
On top of being prolific and exceptional in big moments, Oklahoma's offense has been very consistent as well. I measured the variance in single-game OFEI percentile ratings for each team to calculate which offenses have been the most consistent throughout the year. Oklahoma ranks second nationally in this category, with an average percentile variance of 0.09. The average variance in offensive performance for the other nine teams ranked in this week's OFEI top 10 is 0.15. Oklahoma is the only top ten offense that also ranks in the top 10 in consistency of performance.
For comparison, the three best defenses according to opponent-adjusted DFEI -- Auburn, Wisconsin, Georgia -- all rank among the top five in variance. If the best defenses can be counted on to perform more consistently than the best offenses, that makes Oklahoma's exceptional efficiency and consistency that much more impressive.
The Sooners have a rematch this weekend in the Big 12 Championship Game against TCU, a team they defeated 38-20 in Week 11. It was Oklahoma's lowest point total in November, and the only time they scored fewer than 40 points since mid-October. It was still a 97th-percentile offensive effort since it came against the 13th-best defense according to DFEI. If Mayfield and the Sooners continue to be as consistently efficient as they have been throughout the year, I expect another elite offensive performance against TCU will lead to a conference crown and solidify their berth in the playoff.
FEI 2017 Week 13 Ratings
The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) is a college football rating system based on opponent-adjusted drive efficiency. Approximately 20,000 possessions are contested anually in FBS vs. FBS games. First-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores are filtered out. Game efficiency (GE) is a measure of net success on non-garbage possessions, and FEI opponent adjustments are calculated with special emphasis placed on quality performances against good teams, win or lose. Strength of schedule (SOS) ratings represent the average number of losses an elite team (two standard deviations better than average) would have against the team's schedule to date.
Offensive FEI (OFEI) is value generated per drive adjusted for starting field position and opponent defenses faced. Defensive FEI (DFEI) is value generated per opponent drive adjusted for starting field position and opponent offenses faced. Special Teams Efficiency (STE) is the average value generated per possession by a team's non-offensive and non-defensive units.
|21||North Carolina State||7-4||.119||.041||48||1.58||18||2.73||27||2.08||55||-.08||119|