The TCU defense is destroying opposing offenses, as well the national narrative that the Big 12 doesn’t play any defense.
The Horned Frogs rank No. 6 in the nation in total defense, allowing just 284.1 yards per game despite playing in the high-scoring Big 12. Compare that to the vaunted SEC, where only two teams rank ahead of the Frogs on defense: Alabama and Georgia.
The SEC is the league most widely regarded for defense and its brand of “grown man” football. However, despite TCU playing in a league where it has to defend higher-scoring offenses that go up-tempo more often, the Frogs would rank first in the SEC in a slew of major categories.
|Category||Total||National Rk||Potential SEC Rk|
|Total Defense||284.1 yards/game||6||3|
|Yards Per Play||4.4||5||3|
|Rushing Defense||69.7 yards/game||1||1|
|Yards Per Carry||2.15||1||1|
|Passing Defense||214.4 yards/game||57||10|
|Comp. Pct Allowed||49.1||4||1|
|Third Down Defense||26.7 percent||7||1|
|Tackles For Loss||67.0||19||3|
|Red Zone Scoring||63.2 percent||3||1|
The one outlier in these numbers is pass defense. However, TCU has already faced three of the top 13 passing offenses in the country this season (No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 6 West Virginia, No. 13 SMU).
It makes sense that the Frogs would give up more passing yards than the average SEC team, because they face more teams that throw the ball a lot. Yet despite facing that high volume of passes, they still allow a lower completion percentage than any team in the SEC.
Normally the quality of Big 12 offenses is used as an excuse for why the league’s defenses don’t perform as well.
“I think people need to begin to look at the other side of it,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said Wednesday. “The offenses in this league are that good. You’re going to face really, really good offenses each and every week, and you don’t do that in the other conferences. That’s just the fact of the matter. If any other conference was sitting there playing offenses like ours, Oklahoma State’s, Texas Tech’s, several of the others that you’ve got in this league, it would be a different story in those leagues, too.”
But for TCU to be putting up SEC-quality numbers in such a wide-open league is an entirely different story. That’s why both Riley and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield have praised the Frogs’ defense before this week’s matchup in Norman, Okla.
So while Oklahoma has faced a lot of scrutiny because of its defense, the Frogs will face no such criticism if they win this weekend and inch closer to the College Football Playoff field.
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