<
>

Stats that matters: TCU vs. Texas

11/26/2014

Ready for some numbers? It's time for our weekly stat digs, in which we team with ESPN Stats & Information to find the numbers that matter most for the Texas Longhorns and their next opponent. Here are the stats to remember going into Texas' regular season finale against No. 5 TCU:

1. 129

We've been tracking this not-so-advanced statistic on Texas' defense throughout the season because it continues to amaze.

Texas' defense has been responsible for allowing a total of 129 points in Big 12 play this season, an average of 16.1 points per game. Throw out the special teams TDs and the offensive turnovers for scores and you get 129. It's a pretty impressive number.

Last season, against these same eight Big 12 opponents Texas has already faced, the Horns' defense was responsible for 185 points allowed. Scoring against Texas' defense is down 30 percent in Big 12 play under Charlie Strong, Vance Bedford and the new coaching staff.

You can credit that substantial improvement to a few things, and the number of veterans Texas has on D is certainly one of them. But it seems pretty clear Strong, Bedford and the staff have gotta much more out of this group than the previous coaches did.

2. Ten and nine

Tyrone Swoopes' first season as Texas' starting quarterback has evoked a lot of good statistical comparisons lately, from the first seasons of Teddy Bridgewater to Colt McCoy to Vince Young. But what about Trevone Boykin?

TCU's Heisman contender quarterback debuted under similar circumstances in 2012. He started TCU's final nine games after Casey Pachall (rehab) was lost for the season. Boykin wasn't supposed to start. He was supposed to back up and learn from a veteran. He was thrown into the fire, and some weeks went better than others.

Take a look at the stats from Boykin's nine starts in 2012 and compare them to Swoopes' numbers so far in 2014. A little too similar, aren't they?

Boykin made the leap this year because of a new offensive scheme and better QB coaching, but also because he's in his fourth year. It required a lot of time and patience and tough games, but he got there. His rise this season ought to provide Swoopes with a little inspiration.

3. 3.7

This is still one of my favorite stats about last year's TCU team, one that just looks insane now that the Horned Frogs' offense has come this far.

A year ago, TCU was averaging 3.7 points per game in the first quarter and 8.8 points per game in the first half. That's a pretty good and simple explanation for why they were playing so many close games. Gary Patterson's defense kept them in games they had no business winning. They went 4-8. When you can't score early in games, you're only putting more pressure on your whole team.

This year? The Frogs are putting up 13.2 per game in the first quarter and outscoring foes 230-120 in the first half. They took 14-0 leads against Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. If TCU can do that again on Thursday, how will Texas respond?

Three more to remember

18.6 percent: We mentioned this one a few weeks ago. Going into the Texas Tech game, the Longhorns were 3-5 and their odds of reaching six wins were 18.6 percent, per ESPN Stats & Info. So yes, Strong, his coaches and his players pulled off something kind of improbable here.

74 percent: In terms of "game control," TCU is indeed one of the nation's best. The Frogs rank No. 7 nationally in that ESPN metric and have held a lead for 74 percent of their total plays this season. In Big 12 play, that percentage is nearly 66 percent.

Two: The number of plates Strong says he loads up when he eats Thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy the holiday and enjoy the game, everybody.