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Why Defense in the Big 12 Is the Worst in the Country

STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 29:   Running back Joe Bergeron #24 and tight end D.J. Grant #18 of the Texas Longhorns celebrate a touchdown against the Texas Longhorns on September 29, 2012 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Texas defeated Oklahoma State 41-36. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Brett Deering/Getty Images
Lisa HornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterJanuary 5, 2017

Is the defense in the Big 12 the worst in the country? The stats say it is. Seven Big 12 teams are allowing an average of over 300 yards per game in offense. 

Is there a reason for it? Yes.

So let's dispense with all of the apologists right now. The defense looks lousy because the Big 12 has the most superior offenses in the country. Period. And that skews the stats.

Of the top passing offenses in the country, four of the top seven are from the Big 12: West Virginia, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

Other conferences—and you know who you are—will point out that the reason why these offenses are so good is because the defenses are so poor. 

It's the classic debate. Which came first? The chicken or the egg?

LSU finished with the second-best defense in the country last year. The Tigers gave up just 261.5 yards per game on average. Pretty impressive.

When the Oregon Ducks played LSU, quarterback Darron Thomas alone passed for 240 yards. LSU had averaged only 171.4 yards per game that year. What happened? 

A prolific spread offense happened. A fast, speedy offense that, right now, is fairly rare in some conferences but a staple in the Big 12. Does the fact that Oregon passed for that many yards mean that the Tigers defense was porous? Absolutely not. 

But it does raise the obvious question: Does a great offense make a defense look bad, or does a bad defense make an offense look good?

If you've watched West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Baylor or Texas Tech play this year, you know how good the offenses are. Unfortunately, they haven't had a shot playing in the BCS Championship in years. 

Maybe the pollsters didn't trust Oklahoma State's defense last year. Maybe that Oklahoma State loss to Iowa State was the perfect reason to pit two SEC teams against each other in the BCS Championship. 

The game was a disaster. LSU's defense gave up 384 yards and only had 92 total yards on offense. Meh

I would've loved to see Oklahoma State against Alabama. See how a real defense holds up against a real offense.

Is the Big 12 defense really that bad? Nah. And it's really a moot point.

The team with the best defense isn't necessarily the guaranteed winner every week. Alabama lost to LSU in their regular season matchup because the Tide couldn't hit field goals. They couldn't put points on the board. Offense and special teams do matter. 

We could settle all this nonsense very easily.

Alabama vs. West Virginia, anyone? 

It would be great football.

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