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Bad Defenses Means the Big 12 is a Lower Quality Conference is a Myth

Updated on March 9, 2020
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Ashok is a Sophomore at Texas A&M University, pursuing a Computer Science degree, in addition to minors in Mathematics and Business.

NFL scouts say the Big 12 doesn’t play defense. Are they correct? Well, Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma beat Patrick Mahomes and Texas Tech 66-59 without any overtimes. This is just one example of a high scoring Big 12 game. On the other hand, in the SEC, it required 7 overtimes for Texas A&M to beat LSU with a score of 74-72 in 2018. According to scores, the Big 12 doesn’t play defense when compared to other conferences like the SEC.

According to this assumption, it seems the SEC played no defense against the LSU Tigers in 2019. According to the sports media, it’s because the LSU offense was explosive. This is believable due to the SEC being known for its top-notch defense.

Let’s look at a specific player who played in the Big 12 and currently plays in the NFL.

Patrick Mahomes - QB for Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes - QB for Kansas City Chiefs | Source

It’s none other than Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes threw for a ton of yards in both college and the NFL. Does that mean the NFL doesn’t play defense, since he’s had his way with stats like in college? Well, a bad defense in the NFL is still somewhat decent, since it has top college players in it.

Aqib Talib - Played CB for the Kansas Jayhawks in College
Aqib Talib - Played CB for the Kansas Jayhawks in College | Source

In other words, the Big 12 does play defense. The defenses in the Big 12 are unable to handle the explosiveness of their own offenses. Lot of teams in the conference use Air Raid, which tires not only the opposing defensive teams, but also its own defense. The defense only get’s a short amount of rest, since points are scored fast. This leads to tired defenses, and points are easily scored on tired defenses.

There are teams in the Big 12 that have bad defenses, but there are teams in every conference that have bad defenses. Due to explosive offenses, those bad defenses get exploited really fast. Whereas in the SEC, a bad defense won’t get exploited as fast, since the offenses are more slower moving.

It can also be said that the SEC doesn’t have fire power offenses, so their defenses look good. The views on conferences is projected to change once Mike Leach plays his Air Raid on SEC defenses in Mississippi State.

2019 NFL Draft based on Conference (Power 5)

Big 10
Pac 12
Big 12

Conferences’ quality of play should not be diminished due to an assumption of bad defenses, since today’s game involves fast-paced offenses. This is what NFL scouts need to be thinking for future evaluations of players from each conference.

Hopefully the NFL understands, and those numbers start to equal out per conference. As of right now, there is a bias for the SEC, but that will change as offenses in the NFL are starting to resemble more of those passing attacks from the Big 12. The NFL was taken by surprise after guys like Patrick Mahomes, coming from an unpopular Air Raid system, had success against NFL defenses.


Patterson, C. (2019, April 28). 2019 NFL Draft by conference, team: SEC dominates, sets record with 64 players selected. Retrieved from

© 2020 Ashok Meyyappan


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