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Friday, December 14, 2012
Crowning the Big 12's best offense/defense

By David Ubben

The preseason champions were Texas (defense) and West Virginia (offense), but the fan vote is in.

Which team had the best offense and defense in the Big 12 this season?

Kansas State brings home the trophy from the fans for best defense. The Wildcats earned 38 percent of the vote, narrowly edging out TCU at 30 percent. Iowa State and Oklahoma both received 14 percent of the vote.

On the other side of the ball, Baylor led the way with 29 percent of the vote, edging out the Mountaineers, who earned 21 percent of the fan vote. Kansas State had just 19 percent of the vote and Oklahoma State and Oklahoma grabbed 16 and 15 percent of the vote, respectively.

You're off on both accounts, friends.

We'll start with the offense. I am the 19 percent. Baylor and West Virginia have all the flash and the big yardage and speedy receivers, but I'd definitely pick Kansas State as the Big 12's best offense. They don't do it with flash, but our Stats & Information people tallied it up and say Kansas State scored on 52 percent of their drives this season. The Wildcats also began drives at an average of their own 41-yard line, the best mark in college football, but I'm not going to penalize the offense much for the success of the defense and special teams. I'm still going with the Wildcats on this one, who were fourth in the Big 12 in scoring offense at more than 40 points a game, despite running just 771 plays on offense. That was 50 fewer plays than any other team in the Big 12. That's efficiency. It was also the only offense to send someone to New York City for the Heisman ceremony.

Defense gets a little hairier, though. I don't wholly disagree with the fans' take on Kansas State, but I think I would go with the Horned Frogs here, in part due to their consistency.

Kansas State got walloped on the road by Baylor in a rough game, but TCU's defense had no such breakdowns this season. It gave up 56 to Texas Tech, but that was a triple overtime game. In its first season in the Big 12, TCU held opponents under 30 points in eight of 12 games, and in five of its nine Big 12 games. That's pretty impressive, and TCU didn't have a powerful offense to help apply pressure to defenses. The Frogs forced 32 turnovers, the same as Kansas State, but led the Big 12 in total defense by more than 35 yards a game. Kansas State grabbed the scoring title for defenses. There's not much separation between the two defenses, but I'd vote TCU here. The Frogs also averaged just 5.06 yards per play, more than a quarter of a yard per play fewer than any other team in the league. That's a recipe for success.

What do you think about the results of our poll?