Big 12 and Defense

Discussion in 'Longhorn Sports' started by q1w2e3, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. q1w2e3

    q1w2e3 Well-Known Member
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    Mar 2, 2005
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    (TLDR: SEC wasn't any better than the Big 12 at defense last year and the Big 10 better than both)

    We’ve all heard the narrative that the Big 12 doesn’t play defense. Usually parroted by Aggies and SEC, but also by some talking heads in the media. So, I’m curious to find out why they say this and if there is any truth to it.

    To find out we must look a little deeper than basic statistics only, such as total points and total yards given up. It’s easy for lazy minded talking heads to look at a Big 12 game and see high scoring and a lot of yards and assume that they just aren’t as good at defense. But is there more to the story? Does the Big 12 have more dynamic offenses, or better QBs, or is the tendency to play up-tempo a factor?

    I think yes, to some degree, on all the above. The simple fact that up-tempo, spread attacks are going to have significantly more plays and possessions is going to skew the old school stats like total points and yards given up. Take for example the Bedlam game and SEC championship game last year: Auburn and Georgia both had eleven total drives and 63 plays each. Meanwhile OU had 14 drives and ran 76 plays, while OSU had 15 drives and 88 plays. Well, of course there are likely to be much more yards and points in the Bedlam game.

    Fortunately, we have the benefit of more advanced statistical analysis these days that adjust for number of plays or drives, strength of schedule, and can even factor out first half clock-kills and end of game garbage time. This gives us a much better comparison of teams that play in different conferences that may not have a single common opponent and different strength of schedules. For example, the Big 12 hosted the top two offenses, by far, in the country in OU and OSU. The Big 12 plays the entire conference so everyone had to play them. We also must remember the SEC plays four non-conference games instead of three, and usually at least three of those are against very weak non-power five teams that not only pad their win totals but also their stats.

    So, using ESPN’s Team Efficiency Index for last season (Team efficiencies are based on the point contributions of each unit (offense/defense) to the team's scoring margin, on a per-play basis. The values are adjusted for strength of schedule and down-weighted for "garbage time" (based on win probability)) I looked at Big 12 defensive rankings and compared them to the supposed Mecca of defense, the SEC. What did we find…..

    - Just as we found previously with strength of schedule, the SEC was not by any means a paragon of defensive excellence…or even superior to the Big12.

    - Of no surprise, both conferences are elite at the top, average in the middle, and poor at the bottom of the conference.

    - However, as a whole the Big 12 played better defense: While the SEC had four elite defenses (top 15) and the Big 12 had two, the SEC had significantly more bad defenses. Embarrassingly over 40% of the SEC had bad defenses (rated in the bottom half of D1) while the Big 12 only had two or 20%.

    -Likewise, the Big 12 had significantly more good defenses relatively. The Big 12 had 80% of their teams with good defenses (rated in the top half of D1), while the SEC only had 57%.

    -What was the average defensive rating cumulatively for the Big 12 teams? 50 (out of 130 D1 teams)

    -What was the average defensive rating cumulatively for the SEC teams? 50

    -What conference had the best defensive ratings overall? Big 10. They had five elite defenses (top 15) and eight in the top 25. Their cumulative team avr was 40 (out of 130)

    Here are the rankings for the Big 12 and SEC:

    Big 12:

    5. Texas

    13. TCU

    23. ISU

    42. OSU

    45. KSU

    52. TTU

    57. WVU

    58. OU

    100. Baylor

    110. Kansas


    2. Alabama

    3. Georgia

    6. Auburn

    8. Miss. St.

    29. LSU

    35. South Carolina

    46. A&M

    47. Florida

    71. Tennessee

    81. Kentucky

    88. Mississippi

    93. Vanderbilt

    96. Arkansas
    LonghornMM likes this.
  2. clob94

    clob94 Well-Known Member
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    Aug 25, 2014
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  3. outhereincali

    outhereincali Well-Known Member
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    May 30, 2015
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  4. Aggie_Eric98

    Aggie_Eric98 Well-Known Member
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    May 17, 2004
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    Will this be in the newsletter this week?

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