The Big XII blogs in the SB Nation network are uniting once again for a series of roundtables to discuss college football and specifically our teams and conference. This week, our host is Missouri's Rock M Nation.
Everyone knows the national talking points for each Big 12 team by now (Oklahoma has new linemen! Bill Snyder's back at Kansas State! Baylor might upset somebody!). Give us a storyline for your team that isn't quite getting the attention it should.
While some sportswriters recognize that Nebraska's defense should be better this season, many people still don't recognize the improvement the Blackshirts made in the last month of the season. Against Kansas, Kansas State, and Colorado, the defense did not give up many extended play scoring drives. It wasn't quite as apparent on the scoreboard, as turnovers and special teams gaffes resulted in four opponent touchdowns that weren't the responsibility of the defense. But look at the yardage; in those final four games, the Blackshirts only gave up an average of 292.5 yards per game. If that average would have held out over the entire season, the Blackshirts would have ranked 14th nationally last season. And frankly, most of those yards came on busted coverages. If the Blackshirts can reduce those busted coverages even more, this could be one of the best defenses in the country - especially considering they play in the Big XII.
The Big 12 continues to be derided by other conferences as a pass-happy, no defense, made-for-TV free-for-all. The question must be asked, how accurate is this description, and is the perception something of which the conference should be ashamed?
Maybe by the SEC, though outside of Florida, I'm not sure the SEC has much room to talk. Some of those SEC offenses were downright brutal last season. And if the Big XII was such a "no-defense" league, they certainly would have been exposed in the bowl season. Only Oklahoma State (42 to Oregon) and Texas Tech (47 to Ole Miss) gave up large point totals. Certainly Oklahoma and Nebraska showed some decent defense in the bowl season.
And frankly, what do people want to watch? Texas and Oklahoma putting 80 points on the board in the Red River Rivalry, or Oregon State and Pitt combining for 3 points in the Sun Bowl.
Over the summer, ESPN's Tim Griffin compiled a list of the Top 25 moments of the Big 12 era that stirred up a bit of internal debate. Which moments for your program were either overrated or underrated?
I think most of them were on target, except for last year's Nebraska-Colorado game at #18. Truth be told, factor out a brain-dead fake field goal and busted coverages on the first four plays, this game isn't even close. Sure, it makes for great highlights, but this game wasn't that close. Subtract the 148 yards from those first 2 drives, and Colorado's offense accounted for 143 yards and 10 first downs for the final 55 minutes of the game. Yes, those final plays were memorable, but this game wasn't that close to begin with.
We've seen no less than 30-40 "Best Big 12 Coaches" power rankings in the offseason, but rarely is there the same press for the coordinators. If you had to replace your offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator with coordinators from within the conference, who are you poaching and why?
After this roundtable was issued, Rivals issued their own offensive and defensive rankings, with Shawn Watson coming in at #5 nationally for offensive coordinator. So frankly, other than Oklahoma's Kevin Wilson, everybody else would be a downgrade. If I couldn't grab Wilson, I'd go back and recruit OU's Jay Norvell back to Lincoln. Norvell left Lincoln with a lot of respect from players, especially the some of the more outspoken players who criticized the previous regime. And the reasons why I'd go after the Sooners is obvious.
As for defensive coordinators, I still consider Bo Pelini the de facto defensive coordinator. So if we lost both Pelini brothers, I'd have to suggest Will Muschamp from Texas, who's in line to take over for Mack Brown in the near future. But like on offense, I think just about everybody else would be a huge downgrade for Nebraska.
Time to start our weekly Big 12 Power Poll. Rank the Big 12 teams from 1 to 12. (Note: This IS a power poll and isn't intended to account for schedule)
Well, since this is the preseason, this is just a guess.
- Oklahoma State
- Texas Tech
- Iowa State
- Kansas State
- Texas A&M