SEC Defense Is Outstanding and Big 12 Offense is Overrated, Think Again

James ColtCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2008

All year long, people have argued which conference is better: the Big 12 or the SEC.  Well the consensus came to a decision and decided it is the Big 12. 

The only few who still claim the SEC are the die hard SEC fans who will argue anything, even when proven wrong.

Another argument has raged about these conferences all year long as well.  The SEC plays GREAT defense, and the Big 12 plays GREAT offense. 

Some might say the stats of the Big 12 are way overrated because they don't have ANY defense whatsoever. 

Some might say the SEC has great defenses because of the lack of ANY offense outside of the University of Florida.

I say the defense in the SEC is more a product of BAD offense than the Big 12's offense is a product of bad defense.

There is no arguing the statistical merits that the SEC has accrued this season.  11 of their 12 members are in the top 38 in total defense.  That is very impressive. Eight of their 12 members are in the top 40 in scoring defense, which is also impressive.

Maybe I should stop writing right now, because those stats are too good to argue against, but I think I'll continue and try anyway.

The SEC only has three teams in the top 50 in total offense compared to six teams ranked 97 or lower with the bottom 3 being 113, 115, and 117 out of 119.  That is complete incompetence on the offensive side of the ball.

The SEC only has five members in the top 50 in scoring offense.  Meanwhile they have 7 teams ranked 87 or lower.  Those rankings are as follows: 87, 91, 92, 104, t-110, t-110, 115. 

While I'm on the subject of scoring who can forget the epic 3-2 game between Auburn and Mississippi St. which voters apparently felt was so good that Auburn should stay in the top 10.

Aside from UF, the SEC does not possess a team in top 20 of total offense or scoring offense.  So are the defenses really that good?

Well, since Florida is the only team in the SEC with anything that resembles a modern offense let's see how the big SEC defenses fared.

Tennessee's 11th ranked scoring defense gave up 30 points.  Mississippi's 14th-ranked scoring defense gave up 30 points, but both of those games were before Florida "found" themselves offensively.

Post-loss Florida scored 51 points on LSU, who holds the 36th ranked total defense, but only the 65th ranked scoring defense.  Kentucky, 37th in total defense and 40th in scoring defense, gave up 63 points. 

Georgia who is 28th in total defense and 64th in scoring, gave up 49 points to the Gators.  Finally, Alabama, who is the 6th ranked scoring defense, gave up 31 points against Florida.

So maybe those SEC defenses aren't that great after all, but if you still need more proof here you go.  Tennessee's 11th ranked scoring defense gave up 27 points to the 109th ranked scoring offense of UCLA. 

Mississippi's 14th ranked scoring defense gave up 30 points to the 97th ranked offense of Wake Forest.  Auburn's 15th ranked scoring defense gave up 34 points to the 74th ranked scoring offense of West Virginia. 

I could keep going, but I think the point is made, and the point, like the no-offense games in the SEC, is getting boring.

Now moving along to other part of this article we will talk about the Big 12 and their magnificent offense and atrocious defense. 

People have accused the Big 12 of being overrated because they play no defense.  Tim Tebow said he wished he could pass against the Big 12 defenses.  The Big 12's defenses could be likened to Rodney Dangerfield, they get no respect.  Do they deserve any?  Let's see.

We already saw that the SEC has only one team, Florida, which is in the top 20 in scoring and total offense.  The Gators are 18th in total offense and 3rd in scoring offense. 

The Big 12 boasts 6 teams in the top 20 of total offense (half the conference for the mathematically disabled), and 10 teams in the top 50 of total offense.

In scoring offense, the Big 12 can lay claim to 5 of the top 8 scoring offenses, 6 of the top 21 and 9 of the top 46.

On the flip side, Texas the top ranked defense in the Big 12 in both total defense and scoring defense.  The 'Horns rank 50th in total defense and 20th in scoring defense.  That's a long ways from the SEC's top defensive ranks.

Texas doesn't appear to have a great defense, but they never gave up 40 points in any game this year.  They allowed 14 points or fewer in 7 of their 12 games, and held EVERY opponent they played to at least 7 points below their season scoring average, and they can boast the second-ranked rushing defense in the COUNTRY.  That is a very good defense that I would take over most of the SEC defenses.

So, since Texas is the most SEC like defense we will use them as the litmus test for Big 12 offenses like we used Florida for the SEC's version of a Big 12 offense.

Against Oklahoma, Texas gave up 35 points.  All 35 points were scored via a Sam Bradford pass because the Sooners ground game couldn't get more than two yards on the majority of their carries. 

The Sooners are the top ranked offense in the country and were held to 19 points below their season average.  However, I still think 35 points is a great effort against a team that only gave up 18 points per game on average.

Against Missouri, the 6th ranked offense in the nation, the Longhorn's gave up 31 points.  They only gave up 3 in the first half however, and the other 28 points came against base defenses and second stringers.  Not a good performance as they were held to 12 points below their season average.

Against Oklahoma State who is the 8th ranked scoring offense Texas only gave up 24 points.  This total is 17 points less than the Cowboys season average.  The ground game for Okie State, however, still was very potent even against the second-ranked Longhorns defense.

Kansas could only manage a touchdown in Lawrence against the Longhorns.  The elements surely helped in aiding that effort as the 'Horns were only able to manage 35 points themselves, but still the Jayhawks' 27th-ranked scoring offense was held to 27 points below their season average.

Texas Tech was able to put up the most points on the Longhorns this year.  9 of those points, however, were scored by the defense so the offense only really managed to score 30 points against the Longhorns defense.  This total is 14 points less than the 4th ranked Red Raider's season average.

Obviously, at least it's obvious to me, after looking at these stats and games, the Big 12 still has some very good offenses.  The SEC still has a few very good defenses.  However, I feel that the Big 12 offenses don't get as much help from the ineptitude of their defense as the SEC does from the ineptitude of the SEC offenses. 

A reason that the SEC defenses have such good numbers is because of the lack of quality quarterback play.  Florida is the only team that has exceptional quarterback play, and they have had no problem scoring in the SEC.  That's not a coincidence. 

The reason Florida has been able to score against the vaunted SEC defenses is the same reason that Big 12 schools have been putting up such gaudy numbers.  The Big 12 has the best quarterback play in the country.

They don't put up the biggest numbers because they have the worst defenses.  They put up the numbers because of a combination of offensive scheme, great coaching, and quarterbacks who understand how to be efficient within their respective systems.  

When the SEC starts getting quarterbacks to play great, then you will start to see a lowering in the statistical levels of the defenses.  As it stands right now, except for Florida, the SEC is still stuck alongside the Big 10 in the era of three yards and a cloud of dust.