There has been a lot of talk about how Oregon State has only played one game this season and how their defense was so impressive in shutting down Wisconsin's offense. Aside from the fact that Wisconsin has looked pretty underwhelming this season, I was thinking about just how different their offensive style is from this year's Bruins. So I looked back over the results and box scores from Oregon State's past two seasons and compared how their defense fared against teams that ran a version of the spread offense compared to a more pro-style offense.
First of all, a little bit about my methodology. I only included games against FBS opponents. I combined the results and statistics from both 2010 and 2011. As far as I can tell, Oregon State played eleven games against teams that ran a version of the spread offense (Arizona (x2), Arizona State (x2), Oregon (x2) Washington State (x2), BYU, Louisville, TCU). They played teams that ran a more pro-style offense twelve times (Cal (x2), Stanford (x2), Southern Cal, UCLA (x2), Utah, Washington (x2), Boise State, Wisconsin). To be honest, I wasn't sure how to classify UCLA's pistol offense, aside of course from being pathetic. I included it in the pro-style category because it never felt like a true spread offense the way it was being run.
Here are Oregon State's average defensive stats for those games:
||Yards||Rushing||Passing||1st Downs||Turnovers||Win %|
When playing against teams running a spread offense, Oregon State gave up significantly more points (5.9), yards (76.2), and first downs (5.1) per game than they did against teams running a pro-style offense. They did however, on average, force more turnovers (1.3) per game playing against the spread and won nearly twice as frequently.
Of course, results from the last two years don't necessarily reflect on this year's team (a fact that we're all thankful for in the case of this year's Bruins). Perhaps Mike Riley and Mark Banker will have a new defensive strategy this season against the spread, or maybe Oregon State has much better defensive players than in years past. Nevertheless, this gives me hope that the Bruins are not exactly going up against a defensive juggernaut this weekend. The fact that Oregon State has routinely struggled to slow down spread offenses has me optimistic that UCLA will continue to rack up yards and touchdowns this weekend. Of course, it will be critical to take good care of the football and prevent turnovers if UCLA expects to come out on top.