Offense sells tickets but defense wins championships! I know you've heard that before and while it is quite cliche there's also a lot of truth to it. In 2008 Oklahoma had the most prolific offense in the history of college football but unfortunately Florida had one of the best defenses in the country that year as well. The end result was the Gators dancing with the crystal ball. In 2010 the Big 12 is once again loaded with offensive talent but as has been the case in the past it will be the team with the better balance and better defense that wins the conference title. With that said, here are twelve players that will impact their team's run at the conference title in 2010.
Tim Atchison, Baylor - Recorded 42 tackles, 1 interception and 5 pass breakups last season at corner back but will move to free safety in an attempt to replace the departed Jordan Lake who was second on the team with 92 tackles last season.
Maequez Herrod, Colorado - Led the Buffs with 6 sacks last season from the defensive end position. Also recorded 38 total tackles.Colorado desperately needs a strong defensive front to keep them in games while they're working on getting their offense clicking.
David Sims, Iowa State - The Cyclones' strong safety led way on the team in interceptions with 5 while also recording 88 tackles which placed him 4th on the team in that category. Sims and corner back Leonard Johnson are the only two returning starters in Iowa State's secondary.
Chris Harris, Kansas - Harris has been a three year starter at the corner position for the Jayhawks and he returns as the only starter in the KU secondary in 2010. Last season he was third on the team in total tackles with 84 total tackles.
Tysyn Hartman, Kansas State - As defensive back seems to be the theme here, Wildcat safety Hartman led the team with 5 interceptions last season. He was also fourth on the team in total tackles last year with 54 and will be a key member in a secondary that returns three starters from last year.
Aldon Smith, Missouri - As a freshman last year, Smith broke the school single season sack record with 11.5 quarterback take downs. Missouri returns seven starters on defense this year but only Smith is returning at defensive end and Dominique Hamilton at tackle along the line.
Jared Crick, Nebraska - With Ndamukong Suh gone to the NFL, Crick steps into the spotlight as the next great defensive tackle from Nebraska. In Suh's shadow last season Crick registered 9.5 sacks and 73 total tackles. Now he faces the challenge of being the primary target for offensive blockers and must step up without lowering production to keep the Husker defense stingy.
Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma - Was the top play makers on a stout defense in 2010. Emerged as Oklahoma's best defensive end by recording 11 sacks and 69 total tackles with a team high 19 tackles for loss.
Ugo Chinasa, Oklahoma State - With the suspension of fellow defensive end Jamie Blatnick, Chinasa becomes the only returning starter along the Cowboys' defensive line and just one of two returning starters on the entire defense. He led the Pokes in sacks last season with 6.5 while also recording 30 total tackles.
Aaron Williams, Texas - May be the best NFL prospect at the corner back position in the Big 12. He has the speed to be a lock-down type corner but also the size and strength to provide run support. In 2009 he recorded 44 tackles and 3 interceptions.
Von Miller, Texas A&M - Miller was college football's sack master last season. He led the nation with 17 quarterback sacks and was tops in the Big 12 in tackles for loss (21.5) and forced fumbles (4).Miller is one of three returning starters at linebacker for the Aggies.
Brian Duncan, Texas Tech - Duncan is a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end who led the Red Raiders in tackles last season with 88 while playing solely from middle linebacker. His transition to this new role is the key to success for the Tech defense in 2010.