A Pithy Defense of Defense in the Big 12

Tim AzevedoCorrespondent INovember 3, 2008

In a year of Big 12 envy, certain fans of other BCS conferences have regularly fallen back on the last decent argument that allows them to cling to the past: The only reason the Big 12 teams have looked so spectacular is that their defenses are so lackluster.

The SEC fans (whom I admire for their dedication), with their historically great defenses, are the first and loudest in making this claim.

Respectfully though, I believe Urban Meyer's version of the spread, powered by Tebow and Co., has been exposing the mythic SEC defenses as merely good this season. This is relevant because the Gators are probably the only SEC team with an offense comparable to the top Big 12 teams.

Florida has scored no less than 30 points in EVERY conference game so far this season. That includes 30 on Tennessee (No. 11 in total defense), 49 on Georgia (No. 30 in total defense), 51 on LSU (No. 21 in total defense), and 63 on Kentucky (No. 26 in total defense).

Now compare that to Baylor (No. 92 in total defense) who gave up "only" 49 points to Oklahoma and 31 points to Missouri. This is almost identical to the points Florida scored on LSU and Tennessee, but their defenses are ranked 71 and 81 spots higher, respectively.

Keep in mind that Florida is ranked behind eight (!) of the Big 12 schools in total offense.

What does this all mean?

I think the reasonable conclusion is that the Big 12 offenses (and Florida's too) are as good as advertised. They cannot be defended against in the usual way. They have to be outscored.

This is why the Big 12 defenses are so easily targeted—by disgruntled fans and high-powered offenses.

If that is the case, then either the Big 12 defenses are underrated or the SEC defenses are overrated, or both.

You may complain that the comparison is unfair. You may complain that the examples I have chosen are unrepresentative. You may complain that the NCAA has rigged the stats.

But I think cooler heads will recognize that this is not the case. I have simply presented the facts, nothing more and nothing less.

You decide.