Friday, December 14, 2007

Defense – The 2007 Endgame

For anyone who has followed our blog this year, they know I am an enormous proponent of defensive football. Cliché though it might be, defense truly wins championships. After a tumultuous year in college football, let’s take a look to see if this year’s Mythical National champion will be any different.

Near the beginning of this year we noted a number of common statistics of “national championship” teams.. Early on in the season, we cited Louisville, Cal, Oregon, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Boston College, Wisconsin, Florida and USC as teams we thought had inadequate defenses to contend for a “national title”, based on our research. At the time we "called out" each of these teams, only Nebraska had a single loss amongst them.The most salient stats we looked at were Most Single Game Points Surrendered and Average Points Per Game.

To reiterate, in these statistics the past 5 MNCs had -

2006 Florida – 27 points in a loss at Auburn, Average 13.5 ppg

2005 Texas – 29 points in a win over Texas A&M, Average 16.4 ppg

2004 USC – 28 points in a win over Stanford, Average 13 ppg

2003 LSU – 24 points in a win over Arkansas, Average 11 ppg

2002 Ohio State – 21 points in a win over Texas Tech, Average 13 ppg.

So we are looking at no more than 29 points surrendered in any single game, and an average of 13.4 points per game surrendered.

So how do our 2 MNC contenders stack up?

For LSU, who played 2 overtime games, we have to some adjustments. The most points surrendered in regulation by LSU was 34 to Kentucky and Alabama. They average 19.6 points surrendered per game, but when you remove the 2 triple overtime contests, that falls to 17.2.

So for LSU, we have –

34 points in games against Alabama and Kentucky, 17.2 ppg

Ohio State is a little easier –

28 points in a loss to Illinois, 10.7 ppg

If LSU is to be our big, fat, fake national champ, they will have actually a worse defensive record than any team in the past 5 years. Ohio State would be well within the recent defensive records.

I personally think the contest is going to be closer than conventional wisdom holds.


Anonymous said...

Mergz - one teeny point of context here. Don't we have to take into account the two rule changes this year relating to the clock and kickoffs when we assess '07 point totals against those from prior years?

It may be more illuminating to see how much your numbers for each individual team relate to the average D-1 numbers for each season.

Anonymous said...

You keep using that 2006 Florida vs Auburn score incorrectly. Yes they scored 27 points on us, but our defense did not give up a single touchdown. To keep using that as our worst defensive outing of 2006 is kind of inaccurate.

Mergz said...

Anon 1 - Interesting point. Presumably there is more scoring this year. And comparing yearly averages might be more illuminating.

Anon 2 - I agree, but it is hard to go back over all those years and parse out the responsibility for defensive touchdowns or not. I guess the "Points Surrendered" shows both, but of course, points are points, and no matter how they show up, they hurt ya.

Mergz said...

Oops - Anon 1 was really the Senator. I don't know how I missed that, sorry.

Anonymous said...

But you still think LSU is going to win, right? You can't turn your back on the mighty SEC now!

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can charge the 27points given to Auburn in that loss to the defense. In fact, if I remember correctly, none of the points were given up by the defense.

Gil said...

good point - I agree the game will be closer than last year's MNC.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

OSU's defense is comparable to last year's (as a matter of fact last year's gave up fewer points through 12 games).

Meanwhile LSU's offense is 10 points better than Florida's last year.

With a healthy defense, LSU should roll.