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Concerning Offense and the Top 10 Teams
Before we get into the new ranking I'd like to take a secondto talk about the differences between the offenses in the Big 12 and SEC. It's common knowledge that the offenses inthe Big 12 are head and shoulders above those in most of the other conferences,and in certain areas they probably are, but if you take a look at the numberssome interesting trends start to emerge and the supposed gap between the twoconferences closes a bit.
First of all, the biggest difference is plays per game. Most of the teams in the Big 12 either playsome form of quickly paced offense, usually no huddle, designed to scorequickly and increase the number of times they touch the ball. As most of you are probably aware theimplementation of the new clock rules at the beginning of this season meansthat the number of touches each team gets per game have been decreased. These offenses allow a team to increase thenumber of plays it has the ball and therefore have more chances to score thanits opponent. Due to his the Big 12 hasa huge advantage over the SEC in terms of plays per game, points, andyards. However, when you compare the twoconferences in terms of yards per play the difference, while still favoring theBig 12, is much closer than you might think.
Here are the teams of the Big 12 and SEC in terms of playsper game. I've also added Penn St, USC,and Utah(the non Big 12 and SEC members of my Top 10) to add a bit moreperspective to the list.
Texas Tech: 74.3
Oklahoma St.: 70.5
Kansas St: 69.8
Penn St: 68.33
South Carolina: 67.8
Iowa St: 66.50
Mississippi St: 66.50
Texas A&M: 65.5
Now, I've ranked the same teams in terms of Yards per play.
Texas Tech: 7.49
Oklahoma St: 7
Penn St: 6.73
Kansas St: 6.10
Texas A&M: 5.62
Iowa St: 5.28
South Carolina: 5.02
Remember,the next time you start hearing someone talk about how the Big 12 offenses areheads and shoulders above the offenses in the SEC, kindly remind them that ahuge part of that advantage is due to the style of play, not the talent level,because other than Missouri and Texas Tech no other Big 12 team averages morethan .5 yards a play than Florida or Georgia,despite taking 15-20 more snaps per game. In conclusion, while the offenses inthe Big 12 are slightly better than those in the SEC, are they good enough toovercome the significantly better defense played by other teams? I don't think so, but I suppose we'll have towait and see.
The newly updated Wilder Power poll:
- Texas: I'm not sure how long they'll stay here because beating three straight undefeated conference foes is asking a lot of even the best of teams, but it's hard to argue that the Longhorns have proven themselves to be among the elite teams in the country this year. Colt McCoy is leading a highly explosive and well oiled machine on the offensive side of the ball, and the defense, while not perfect, is good enough to hold the opponent to fewer points than they can score.
- Penn St.: Yes, their biggest victories are against a solid but unspectacular Ohio St team and an up and down Oregon St. squad, but the defense is solid, they don't beat themselves, and they can play any style of football they need to to win. Underestimate this team because they play in the Big 10 if you want, and I really can't blame you based on recent history, but this team doesn't have the normal weaknesses that other teams from the conference exhibit, namely a one dimensional offense and slow defense. The defense plays like an SEC squad, flying all over the play and putting pressure on the other team, which is the main reason why I put them at number 2 above the next team on the list.
- Alabama: I'm sorry, but I'm just not sold on Alabama yet. Yes, the defense is outstanding, but the offense, with the exception of John Parker Wilson, is still young and plays wildly inconsistently not only from game to game, but quarter to quarter. They have the talent to be number one, but until they put together a complete game against a quality opponent I can't rank them any higher than 3.
- Florida: Florida is probably playing the best football in the country right now, so much so that I seriously considered putting them in front of both Penn St and Alabama, but a loss to Ole Miss(regardless of Houston Nutt's bizarre ability to win at least one game like that per year) won't allow me to do so in good conscience. The biggest questions entering the year were their ability to run the ball and the pass defense, and concerns about both have recently been put to rest. If they can get past Georgia this week I see no reason they can't run the table and get back into the national title picture.
- Texas Tech: I stated before the season began that if the Red Raiders were ever going to make the leap from novelty to serious contender that this was going to be the year, well, this is the week. If they beat Texas they'll make that leap, otherwise they'll just be another Mike Leach team with gaudy numbers.
- USC: Only one team, Oregon St, has scored more than 10 points on the Trojans this year. This includes games against Arizona St. and Oregon, who by all accounts can put up big numbers if they feel so inclined. The offense isn't quite up to the standards that they've set for themselves in the past, but that doesn't mean they're awful either. I'm not quite sure they're in the same league league as Texas, Florida, or Penn St, but they're not far behind.
- Oklahoma: They're kind of the polar opposite of USC, really. A phenomenal offense coupled with an underachieving defense with a lot of promise that can't seem to get on track. Sam Bradford might be the best passer in the league, and his receivers, running backs, and tremendous offensive line also rank among the best in the country, but unless the defense can do better than allowing 35, 31, and 35 points like they did in their last 3 games they aren't going to seriously challenge anyone for a national title.
- Utah: The Utes have been flying under the radar all season long, only being held under 30 points once(25 against Michigan in the opener) and only allowing one team to score more than 23(28 against Oregon St). This is an experienced and talented team that plays well within the system they employ and are good enough to play with any of the teams I have ranked above them.
- Georgia: Normally, I'd have the Bulldogs ranked 3-4 spots higher, but the injuries are starting to pile up and although they should be favored in 3 of their final 4 games(Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, and Georgia Tech) I have a hard time seeing this team not slipping up and losing two of them.
- Oklahoma St: Other than Texas, the Cowboys are probably the only other team in the Big 12 capable of playing well on both sides of the ball. They still have games against Texas Tech and Oklahoma, so escaping both of those games without another loss is probably a tall order. However, Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant are just as good as the more highly publicized duos of Harrell/Crabtree and Daniels/Maclin so don't count this team out yet.
I'm a running a little long so I'll make this short, buthere are a few predictions regarding this weeks games.
Texas 42 Texas Tech35
Florida 34 Georgia 20
Georgia Tech 16 Florida St 9
Northwestern 20 Minnesota 10
California 38 Oregon24
It should be a great week, enjoy the games!