Last week we confronted the “Big 12 doesn’t play defense” narrative head on by highlighting just how much defense the conference doesn’t play, and we are back at it this week.
I give props to the side of the ball in the Big 12 that gets no love from three and four letter networks. I give a shout out to teams, players, position groups or units that had a particularly outstanding performance the week prior.
Defense is about discipline and toughness. Let’s throw some praise to those who look good headed into October. Here they are, from best to least best. Props to…
Texas: Every Level Of Defense
The over-under for the Texas-Iowa State game was set at 61 points last Thursday. If you took the over, just remember there are things that are more important than money. Like defense.
The Texas defense stepped up and won a game where they kept Iowa State scoreless for the first half and ISU’s only score came after a shanked Longhorn punt gave the Jacob Park Show the ball at the Texas 28 yard line. Park was kept mostly in check, throwing three interceptions on his way to an 18.1 QBR.
Longhorn safety DeShon Elliot garnered Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second time after accounting for two picks, but Texas is playing high level defense as of late by letting loose and trusting everyone else to do their job.
The Texas defense is holding opponents to 96.5 yards on the ground and held Iowa State to just 10 yards rushing last week. That feels like a relevant stat, especially when K State comes to town with the Ertzcat offense and Jesse The Human Bowling Ball this week.
Has there ever been a Big 12 game where the score was 3-0? Cats v Horns feels like it could be the first. What, that doesn’t excite you?
Kansas State: Run Defense On ALMOST Every Down
The Baylor-K State game was a fairly typical Bill Snyder kind of game in the third quarter with the wildcats up 20-6. The affair was so uneventful that Yours Truly thought he had time to pop downstairs to meet the pizza guy when Baylor’s John Lovett decided to cut off the backside of his right tackle and blaze down the field 74 yards for the touchdown. What up Wildcat defense? I thought you guys had me there.
Anyway, game day meal adventures aside, K State is second on this list partly because they gave up a handful of big plays on what was otherwise a solid performance. Even without the Lovett scamper, Kansas State gave up less than 100 yards on the ground and they still have the best scoring defense in the league.
Giving up 15 points per game will look a whole lot more impressive in early November than it does in early October for KSU, but right now this looks like a group that plays together to make teams one-dimensional.
The defense travels to Austin this Saturday for an evening game against a team whose best offense has been their defense.
Oklahoma State: Defense In The (Raider) Red Zone
Not a lot of defense was played between the 20s in this game, which featured almost 1,000 yards of offense, but both defenses played well in the redzone. In a game they ended up winning by seven points, however, it was the Oklahoma State Cowboys who held Texas Tech to just enough field goals instead of touchdowns.
In a game when OSU’s own field goal kicker seemed to think that the point was to hit the yellow bars instead of get it between them, giving up three instead of six was a big deal.
Twice the OSU defense held up in a hostile road environment On the road when the Red Raiders started out inside the OSU five yard line. When we say football is a game of inches, that’s what we mean.
If the guys in the red jerseys had managed to get just a little bit more real estate and cross the white stripe, it might have been a long flight home for Mike Gundy’s crew.
The Cowboys get a bye week before facing winless Baylor at home. The Bears probably have at least 99 problems, but speed still isn’t one of them. OSU will need to have a consistent day to avoid that being a close game in Stillwater.