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Defense wins again

Posted by cuorange on January 13, 2010

No matter which team won the BCS National Championship game last Thursday, one thing was certain: for the 7th consecutive year and 9th time in the last 10 years the BCS Champion finished in the top 10 in total defense.

Alabama’s victory also insured that a top 10 scoring defense also won the championship for the 9th time in 10 years.

In an era when headlines and SportsCenter highlights are driven by eye-popping offensive plays, nothing is more certain than this: defense wins championships.

Year Team Total O Rush O Pass O Scoring O Total D Rush D Pass D Scoring D TO Lost TO Gain TO Margin
 2000 Okla.   18 68   13  7   8  23  9  7 88   5 30 
 2001 Miami  8 21   35    6  40  2  1 26  1  1
 2002 Ohio St.   70 31    92  41  23  3  95  2  7  33  18
 2003 LSU   31  27   43  19  1  3  18  1  83  9  39
 2004 USC  12  33   13     6  1  34  3  35  1  1
 2005 Texas  3    40  1   10  33  8  8  36  21  27
 2006 Florida  19  38    28   23  6  5  33  6  66  17  37
 2007 LSU  26  11    58   11  3  12  9  17  10  3  2
 2008 Florida  15  10   61  4  2  15  20  4  13  34  2
 2009 Alabama   42    12    92   22   9  2  10  2  3  10  4

Consider these facts:

*Only 2 of the last 10 BCS Champions were ranked in the top 10 in total offense.
*9 of the last 10 champions were ranked in the top 10 in total defense.

*Only 2 of the last 10 BCS Champions were ranked in the top 10 in rushing offense.
*5 of the last 10 champions were ranked in the top 10 in rushing defense.

*0 of 10 champions were in the top 10 in passing offense.
*5 of 10 champions were in the top 10 in passing defense.

This is not to say that offense is unimportant in the equation. The 10 champions averaged ranking 24th in total offense and 14 in scoring offense. One irony, of course, is that points scored by a team’s defense and special teams are credited to the scoring offense category. Hence, Clemson can rank 74th in total offense, but 28th in scoring offense.

In contrast, the last 10 champions have averaged a number 5 ranking in scoring defense and a 7th ranking in total defense.

One new trend may be emerging – turnover margin. In the last three years the champion has finished 2nd (2007 LSU), 2nd (2008 Florida) and 4th (2009 Alabama) in turnover margin. It also appears that the most important element in turnover rankings is very rarely turning the ball over (as opposed to gaining a lot of turnovers but giving up a fair amount, too as Texas did in 2009).

So when the 2010 season rolls around and there is talk turns to which team is going to win the BCS National Championship remember defense should come first.

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One Response to “Defense wins again”

  1. […] Defense wins again […]

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