Pac-10 Scoring Trends, 2004-2008

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, November 13th, 2008

(Scoring offense is points scored by the team, scoring defense refers to points given up, just to avoid any confusion. This is not a competition between how many touchdowns Jahvid Best or Syd’Quan Thompson would score, although that would be sick.)

WOOOOOOOOO! Graphs baby graphs!

There are some immediate trends you can notice. The powerful USC offense might’ve declined in relevance, but the USC defense has become freakishly dominant the past five seasons. Everyone else’s defense has kind of vacillated in the middle, which is probably why they end up bowling before New Year’s Day.

Surprising to note: Not only is Arizona’s offense high octane this season (1st in the Pac-10), their defense is actually better scoring wise at keeping points off the board than Cal’s (even though all the yardage stats goes to the Bears). This is what happens when you give up 28 points in a quarter Bears!

For the basic gist of the next segment, you want blue line above red line. Otherwise your team probably is spending winter break Christmas shopping at Target rather than getting free goodies.

A few isolated trends that bear mentioning:

The Washington Schools

Oh the horror.

Oh my goodness. The state of Washington football is like Brundlefly, totally emaciated and ready to burst forth into a sickly gangly creature of the night. The devolution has been spectacular, with fans probably vomiting acid everywhere and violently controlling it. There are sadists in Seattle and Pullman savoring every moment of this. These people also voted for Lyndon Larouche.

Washington State’s complete breakdown is even more startling than Washington–the Huskies have at least had seasons in the past where they’ve proven to be totally outclassed. Then again there isn’t much consolation for one school to be losing games by an average of 37 points, only for the other to get battered around for their average 27 point defeat. Even the 1-11 ‘Furd in 2006 lost their games by only an average of three touchdowns. It seems the wheels have come off both these programs, and the only thing these teams can try and do in these final few games is cover their unprecedented 30-40 point spreads. 

(Oh wait, Washington is only a touchdown underdog to UCLA? God. Damn. It.)

Second Level of Terrible (ASU and UCLA)


Arizona State’s collapse and speaks volumes about how an eight game home schedule–2007–can earn one a ten win season. How the hell does that work anyway? When was the last time Cal played eight home games in one season? And has Rudy Carpenter finally been battered into irrelevance? What fun that UCLA-Arizona State game will be in the post-Thanksgiving glow.

Rick Neuheisel could get outscored by double digits next season and Bruins fans would start building a shrine. Of course, this team will probably win seven games next season though and beat Cal in the Rose Bowl like they always do. Typical Bruins football.

On the uptick (the ‘Furd)

After recoaching them from reprehensible to mere substandard, Harbaugh has the Cardinal (dare I say it) looking mildly respectable. They’ve come a few ticks away from beating Oregon and UCLA on the road and battled Notre Dame to a standstill, so this is a team on the rise. Keep an eye out on them. They have a decent shot at being the third best team in the Pac-10 next year.

Senior quarterback always helps (Arizona)

It’s going to be fun to see what that ex-Texas Tech offensive coordinator does with Elway’s son. If he’s like his old man the results might not be pretty (Elway was many things, but he was no spread offense pocket passer). Still, sitting at 6-3 with a powerful offense and an underrated defense, plenty of upside in Arizona’s future. Probability of this being a one hit wonder with Mike Stoops: 7000%.

Nick Allotti Needs to Rot in Hell (Oregon)

Perhaps the most surprising graph of all. The Duck offense insofar is averaging more points and only giving up slightly less than last year’s nearly Rose Bowl bound team. Masoli and the Blount/Johnson combo aren’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but there’s no evidence to suggest that they’ve been worse. And even Allotti comes out okay here, even if his secondary is easily roasted. 

Back to the Typical (California)

After a team regression to the mean last season, everything is back on course for the Golden Bears. Although the offense has declined back to a solid level and no longer can be considered spectacular, we all have to remember that 2004 team didn’t look spectacular on paper either. Next two seasons will be very interesting.

Never Underestimate Mike Riley (Oregon State)

Since they’re losing to Arizona in a week, we’ll have to discount their BCS chances, but Oregon State is well set up for next season and 2010. Their OOC schedule? at UNLV, home dates with Cincy and Portland State. 2010 has home dates with Louisville and Boise State. Since they’re retaining the core of their offensive talent and will only have a more improved defense with a brilliant DC, Corvallis is here to stay.

I Hate Them. So Much. (USC)

Oregon State hiccup aside, the Trojans have given up a total of 23 points since that game. Not per game, TOTAL.  Even if two of those teams were doormats, with only two gimmees against the ‘Furd and UCLA left (and a home beatdown of Notre Dame), only the Trojans can stop themselves now.

Examining point differential, you can see how wide the gap appears to be between first and worst (hell, between anyone and the Washington schools will suffice). And one little infuriating fact–Cal was a little bit better at dominating their opponents in 2004 than the Trojans. This stuff will keep you awake at night.


To view all the Pac-10 scoring numbers and see Division I rankings for that particular season, click here to view the spreadsheet and examine the data for yourself! You can also publish the graphs on your own site by clicking on “chart” on each graph and selecting the “publish chart” option, where you’ll receive the embed code.

If you have any additional data leave it in the comments.

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