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By The Numbers | Oklahoma Sooners 3rd Down Conversion Rate

Justin K. Aller

The bye week blues have officially set in for Oklahoma Sooners fans. While the off week provides much needed rest for the team, there could potentially be a few set backs if you tend to put weight on the current rankings. However, after four weeks of games and a 4-0 record, we now know the strengths and weaknesses of this squad.

One of those weaknesses manifested itself during the SEC/Big 12 showdown as the Tennessee Volunteers came to town. Coach Butch Jones paved the way for others by stacking the box and daring Trevor Knight to beat them with his arm. In the end, Oklahoma managed to convert a mere 25% of their third downs on the night.

The overwhelming majority have clued into to the idea that if an opponent can force the Sooners' offense into third and long situations then the opportunity for success greatly decreases. But how bad is it?

Opponent Result Attempts Conversions Conversion %
Louisiana Tech W 48-16 13 5 38.46
@ Tulsa W 52-7 14 7 50.00
Tennessee W 34-10 12 3 25.00
@ West Virginia W 45-33 16 8 50.00
Totals 55 23 41.82

At 41.82%, OU ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack and 64th in the nation. There is no denying that the third down conversion rate needs to improve as top teams like Oregon (56.25), Alabama (61.82%), Auburn (63.04%), and Baylor (59.18%) boast numbers well above the rest. Knowing that the average third down for the Sooners stands at 3rd & 7, a piece of the puzzle is revealed.

On the flip side of things, when Oklahoma faces a third down with under four yards to go the conversion rate skyrockets. Of the 55 third down attempts, only 11 of those presented the situation mentioned above. Converting 9-of-11, the Sooners post an 81.8% conversion rate. Sure, a handful of factors go into successfully converting the attempt. From great defensive plays and missed blocks to dropped passes and poor communication, it all factors in as a reason for the lack of success along with play calling on first and second downs.

Fact remains that OU needs to increase their conversion rate into the 55%+ range if they hope to bring home some hardware from the first ever College Playoff. In order to achieve that number the Sooners must will themselves into 3rd & short situations on a consistent basis!