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