Devils Den Blog

What’s Driving the Pac-12 North?


Now that we’ve looked at the drives and their outcomes for the South Division, it is time to see how the North division teams have fared so far this year. Remember, we are not counting those drives that end out a half or a game, also we count turning the ball over on downs as a turnover. The five possible outcomes are a touchdown, a field goal try, a three-play-and-punt, a turnover and finally a punt after more than three plays. Since we also have the South Division done, we may look at how the two division stack up to each other.

Here is a look at the offensive drives for all six of the North Division teams. In the North, Washington State has played one more game than the other five conference teams in the division.

Week 6 North_Drive_Offense_1

Scoring is the name of the game in the North Division. When you look at the two different divisions, there were ten more touchdown scored by the six teams in the North compared to the six teams in the South. Three of the North Division teams; Cal, Oregon and WSU scored more touchdowns than any of the South Division teams. The California Golden Bears and the Oregon Ducks scored a touchdown or tried a field goal on nearly 60 percent of their drives. Compare that to the Stanford Cardinal that score a touchdown or try a field goal in less than 40 percent of their drives.

A very interesting situation to note is that Oregon State has scored 16 touchdowns and also tried a field goal 12 times. That is a field goal attempt roughly once every five drives. We saw a lot of field goal attempts by Arizona, but that should be somewhat understandable with a freshman quarterback, however, Oregon State has a fifth year senior under center.

The Washington Huskies end up with a three plays and a punt in one out of every four drives. That’s roughly twice the rate as Washington State. Stanford is another team that has seen a lot of three plays and a punt so far this year, as roughly one out of every five of their drives ends this way.

Washington State scores a touchdown or tries a field goal in just over 50 percent of their drives and doesn’t experience too many three plays and a punt situation, but what has been blocking the Cougar’s offensive success is their turnovers. Nearly one out of every four drives has ended in a Cougar turnover. That’s a lot of drives to give away. Again, Stanford is a surprise in that they are close behind the Cougars in the giveaway department, as they have turned the ball over in 22 percent of their drives.

As far as total punts, the Washington Huskies punt the ball in almost half their drives, while the Cougars of Washington State punt in only 25 percent of their drives. In fact, the up-tempo offensives of Cal, Oregon and Washington State all punted the ball less than 30 percent of the time.

Here is a look at the defensive drives for all six of the South Division teams.

Week 6 North_Drive_Defense_1

The very first thing that jumps out at the defensive drive analysis is the number of touchdowns that California and Washington State have allowed. Both teams have given up 27 touchdowns. No other team in the North Division has given up more than 14 touchdowns. Now if we want to talk about not allowing a touchdown, Stanford has allowed a touchdown in only one out of every fifteen drives. Let that sink in. For every fifteen drives by its opponents, the Cardinal has not allowed a touchdown in fourteen of them. How on earth is this team not undefeated?

With the scoring that Cal is doing, one wonders why they are not breezing through their games. The big reason is that their opponents are either scoring a touch down or trying a field goal in roughly 50 percent of the drives against the Bears. Washington State is also in the same boat, just not as bad in allowing the same situation in in over 45 percent of their drives. Offense is good, but you’ve got to stop your opponent.

Another negative for both Cal and Washington State is that neither have been taking the ball away from their opponents with any frequency. On the other hand, the Oregon Duck get a takeaway in almost 30 percent of the drives by their opponents. A comparison of the two divisions from a defensive standpoint shows that both are fairly equal in many of the categories. The one category with a meaningful difference is turnovers, where the North gets a turnover in a little over 20 percent of the drives, while the South get turnovers in just 17 percent of the drives.

On the stingy side, Stanford forces a three play and punt situation in more than one out of every three drives. The Washington Huskies are not that far behind forcing a three play and punt situation in over 31 percent of the drives against them.

It was interesting that both California and Washington State each have faced four more drives that they generated. The other four teams played and faced pretty much the same number of drives.

Hope you have enjoyed the analysis on the North Division and also the South Division earlier this week. Please let us know what you think of the analysis. In the meantime, we will keep tracking the drives.

About Gary Doran

Gary Doran

Gary graduated from ASU many years ago. After careers working in banking, finance and the financial administration of academic research funding, he is now interested in utilizing his passion for numbers towards two things he thoroughly loves; Arizona State University and college football. He is looking forward to finding the “stories” buried within the numbers on a football stat sheet. He has gone to ASU football games all the way back to the days of Frank Kush and the WAC. He has been married to an amazing ASU graduate for almost forty years, and they currently live in Ventura, CA. Although this may disqualify him from talking football, he and his wife enjoy the practice of yoga and dancing the Argentine Tango. Ole!

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