The Norman Transcript

Sports

January 4, 2014

Big numbers on offense, not much defense this bowl season

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — With apologies to Florida State, the question must be asked: Can anyone out there play defense?

The Seminoles come into the BCS title game ranked first in the country in points allowed.

Auburn and the rest of them? Pretty much every one-liner about busy scoreboard operators and video-game line scores applies.

Including Tuesday night’s Chik-fil-A bowl, there have been nine games this season involving teams from BCS automatic-qualifier conferences that produced 100 or more points, according to STATS. Included among those: Auburn’s 59-42 win over Missouri in the Southeastern Conference title game.

As for anything resembling the “Game of the Century” — the 1946 classic between No. 1 Army and No. 2 Notre Dame that ended in a 0-0 deadlock:

“That’s an impossibility. That won’t happen,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “It’s trickling down now to where all the Southeastern Conference teams have parts or variations of spread offenses. They’re very difficult to defend because of the space on the field, and then the quarterbacks running with the ball makes it even more challenging.”

The over-under for Monday night’s title game, despite Florida State’s nation-leading 11.1 points-per-game allowed, is 671⁄2.

The average over-under for this season’s bowl games: 58. Through the first 30 games of bowl season, winners averaged 34.6 points.

“Back in the day, games were decided 10-3 and that was great stuff and hopefully we can get back to that,” said Central Florida linebacker Terrance Plummer, a few days before the Knights topped Baylor 52-42 in the Fiesta Bowl. It was the third bowl game this season to produce more than 90 points.

But Plummer’s vision probably won’t materialize anytime soon, at least not with the way the numbers are trending.

Thanks to the influx of spread offenses that don’t huddle, along with a rapid-fire substitution patterns and more athletic quarterbacks, defenses have been taking an increasingly steady drubbing over the past decade or so.

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