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Big 12 Defenses Show Improvement In 2013

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It's been many years since the Big 12 was known for its stout defenses, but the conference exhibited plenty of improvement and promise on that side of the ball in 2013. Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images.
It's been many years since the Big 12 was known for its stout defenses, but the conference exhibited plenty of improvement and promise on that side of the ball in 2013. Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images.

The Big 12 is known for a lot of things: national champions, big-time rivalries and high-powered offenses.

It also used to be known for its big-time defenses.

But all that may be changing, which is good news. The Sooners and Horn Frogs ranked first and second on defense in the Big 12 in 2013. Both ranked in the Top 25 nationally in total defense last season, with Oklahoma at No. 20 and TCU at No. 24.

Not bad for a conference more known these days for high-powered offense. We saw at times throughout the season how explosive the Oklahoma defense can be, especially against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The Sooners swarmed around the ball, causing the Tide to turn it over an uncharacteristic four times on their way to a victory in the Sugar Bowl.  

Texas fans should be excited about the Longhorns defense this upcoming season because Charlie Strong's team at Louisville last season finished first in the FBS in total defense. Texas at times showed it wasn't a bad defensive team last year, especially in its upset victory over OU. The Longhorns pestered the OU offense all day, not letting them get into a rhythm and disrupting the flow.  

Another Big 12 defense that looked impressive last season was Oklahoma State. Mike Gundy's defense shut down Mississippi State early in the 2013 season. By the end of the season, the Cowboys ended up 19th in the nation in scoring defense, giving up just a shade under 20 points a game.

Baylor and coach Art Briles continue to progress due to an impressive offense, but the Bears never would've made it to the Fiesta Bowl without a much-improved defense.

So yes Virginia, contrary to popular belief, the Big 12 has not turned into the WAC and hasn't forgotten how to play defense. In fact, it played very good defense against what is considered the best conference in the country, the SEC.  

So for those of you who miss the days of a good Barry Switzer or Darrell Royal defense, have hope. The Big 12 is on its way back to being known as a tough defensive conference too.