Not Better, Or Worse... Simply Different
Ladies and gentlemen of the B/R, the tone of many recent CFB articles seems to have taken a rather nasty direction- which some might suggest is part of football. That said, I think there simply needs to be an acknowledgement that the 3 premier college football conferences simply have different characteristics.
As the picture suggests, I DO have a bias, but I will attempt to put it on the shelf for this, my first BR article. As I mention 3 premier conferences, we will NOT be including the Pac1+9. I already heard once in my lifetime how "it was a waste of airfare to come to the Rose Bowl, because there was no way Texas could hang with USC." We know how that one ended.
Few could argue the SEC has the strongest collection of defenses (9 of the top 50). Equally few could argue the Big XII has the elite offenses in the league (8 of the Top 27 and 5 of the top 6). It would be near impossible to stockpile defensive stats against that competition week in and week out. The Big Ten may have the best Balance of offense and defense. It is the interpretation of the statistics that seems to be getting lost.
Case 1- Texas vs. Missouri- Final score was 56-31, and I bet I was the ONLY one who can say they called a 25 point win (see discussion with Timothy on Baby Tate's Loser predictions). What that doesn't show is that it was 35-3 at halftime, and the 'unstoppable' Mizzou offense had NEGATIVE yardage through 4 possessions. Why a Heisman contender was at risk in a 49-17 game with 10 minutes left is unfathomable. Gary Pinkle should have worn "I am interviewing Pac 10 jobs" on his chest. It was reckless for his team and his player, but his stats ended up better. The defense was simply swarming, in no small part due to the SEC influences of Muschamp.
Case 2- LSU vs. Florida- This was a 6 point game halfway through the 3rd quarter at 20-14 in typically SEC heavyweight fashion. Only a rash of ill-timed turnovers, and turnover on downs led to the eventual margin. Florida looked superb in pulling away, but noone would classify LSU as having a soft defense. 21 points per game looks great for WAC and PAC 10 teams, but it is good for 9th in the SEC.
Case 3- Ohio State- last 3 years. They have dominated the Big 10 with a unique blend of Solid defense and offensive versatility. Many of their Big Ten counterparts have remained stubbornly predictable, which has led them to being somewhat pedestrian when measured against other more glamorousfoes. Ohio State gets credit for scheduling a strong out of conference opponent in USC, as well as Texas- with whom they split (mostly because Laurinatius is a beast, and it was McCoys's second game under center, but alas that is an aside). Their athletes are easily as good as those in the elite conferences, so why the ineptitude in the BCS title games? They aren't as accustomed to playing AGAINST teams as skilled as them AS OFTEN as those in the SEC and Big XII.
It is for this reason that their matchup with the NEW Penn State attack this weekend is so eagerly awaited.
Upon review, this is most likely what gets you to where the likely 2008 Champion in Miami likely comes from the SEC or Big XII. With all apologies to those other teams and fans in the mix, I can simply hope that the picture above from 2005 can be taken again in January of 2009.
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