Does defense matter this year?

A couple - okay, several - times this season I was more than a little frustrated with what seemed to be lapses in the defense.  Probably not as much as the special teams play, but that is not saying much.  The Kansas State game really made me wonder if we were going to be able to get it together and make a run to the end without getting beat.

The game plan against Tech got me thinking more positively and made me wonder how well has the defense really played against this schedule that is considered one of the tougher ones this year? 

This led me to consider how the defense's performance works when compared to the average points those teams scored against other teams.  I threw out Chattanooga, well, because.  Overall the defense held opponents a touchdown below their average with much of that coming from two big games (TCU & Tech).

Team                Points against OU    Avg-Off-Pts-Scored    Difference
Chattanooga                 0                               0                                  0
Cincinnati                     26                           27.2                            -1.2
Washington                  14                           13.8                             0.2
TCU                             10                            35                               -25
Baylor                          17                            28                                -11
Texas                           45                           43.9                              1.1
Kansas                        31                           32.7                             -1.7
Kansas State               35                          34.9                               0.1
Nebraska                     28                          36.2                              -8.2
Texas A&M                  28                          25                                  3
Texas Tech                  21                          44.6                            -23.6
Oklahoma State          41                          41.6                              -0.6
TOTAL                     26.91                       32.99                             -6.08

I don't recall the TCU game as being an overly dominant game and looking at the stats summary, it does not look overly dominant - except for one piece - the turnover margin.  TCU lost two fumbles and two interceptions while OU held on to the ball in both offensive facets.  Both TCU scores were set up by poor special teams coverage - their first score set up by a 75-yd. KO return that took it down to the OU 15, but they had to settle for a FG.  The TD came early in the 4th quarter - again on a short field starting out at our 48 yard line.

Many of the analysis that I have read about the possibility of OU winning the MNC point out that OU is raked 60th in scoring defense and no other champions of the past ten years was ranked lower than 17th (LSU last year).  As it turns out, the one category where we do excel is in turnover margin - where we are currently ranked second.

The old saw is that "defense wins you championships", but I wonder is an opportunistic defense combined with our explosive offense taking care of the ball enough to carry us to wins in the next two games?  Before answering, two guesses as to who leads the nation in turnover margin.

Turnover margin stats


PS - Looking for a holiday gift for your favorite Sooner?  How about a bumper sticker?


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