In college football, the only defense is a good offense | Bleader

In college football, the only defense is a good offense


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Can anyone stop anyone from scoring? When it comes to Kain Colter and the Northwestern offense, I sure hope not.
  • John J. Kim/Sun-Times Media
  • Can anyone stop anyone from scoring? When it comes to Kain Colter and the Northwestern offense, I sure hope not.

Numbers don't lie: Pardon me for being late, but it took me a while to read over the box score from last weekend's West Virginia-Baylor football game.

In case you didn't hear about it, the final tally was ten to nine. That is, ten touchdowns to nine touchdowns.

The stats from the game were amazing. Final score: 70 to 63, Mountaineers. Total offensive yards: 1,507. Total passing yards: 1,237. Touchdown passes thrown: 13. Total passes thrown: 98.

Baylor receiver Terrance Williams broke the Big 12 conference record for receiving yards in a game—the one set earlier in the game by Stedman Bailey of West Virginia. Together the two racked up 617 receiving yards, which at one point would have made for a decent season total.

But my favorite part is that somehow the two teams also found time to miss a couple of scoring opportunities. There were two errant field goal attempts and four punts.

I'm bummed I didn't see that one in person. Not that I missed out—I was enjoying a slightly more modest display of defenseless football. At one point in Northwestern's 44-29 win over Indiana, five touchdowns were scored in seven and a half minutes.

Something was going on Saturday, and it wasn't tackling. Scoreboards were blowing up all over the country: Oregon 51, Washington State 26; Georgia 51, Tennessee 44; Texas 41, Oklahoma State 36; Clemson 45, Boston College 31; Purdue 51, Marshall 41.

Just a week earlier, quarterback Taylor Heinicke of Old Dominion—hardly a football powerhouse—set a major-college record by throwing for 730 yards in a 64-61 win over New Hampshire.

It used to be that when the defensive unit ran onto the field, it was to try to stop the other guys. Now it's to give the offense a couple of minutes to catch its breath before scoring again. Put another way, the average college offense regularly scores more points than the president gets in his approval ratings. Then again, since Mitt Romney has been on the other side of the ball, President Obama's numbers are rising too.

Numbers lie: Not too many fans go around hollering, "We're number 24!" But not many fans cheer for Northwestern. With their win over the Hoosiers, the Wildcats moved to 5-0 and earned a No. 24 ranking in the AP poll.

This is a curious thing. While I was jumping for joy, I happened to consider that one of the few teams that did keep the scoring down last week was No. 20 Michigan State, whose defense held No. 14 Ohio State to 17 points, and whose offense held itself to 16 points, thanks to an effective mix of dropped passes and missed blocks. After losing to a higher-ranked team by a single point, the Spartans fell out of the top 25.

Meanwhile, upon winning its fifth straight game against no losses, LSU dropped from third to fourth because it didn't crush its opponent. The same fate befell Boise State, which went from 24th to unranked after its latest, apparently unimpressive victory.

So what's in a ranking? For some of us, an increased likelihood that our team could suffer the latest disappointing loss in a long history of disappointing losses. Not that I'm pessimistic. Go Cats!

And on to the games—and what a fine slate it should be this week.

Thursday night special:

Southern Cal over Utah: I'll be cheering for the Utes, which, combined with a substantial talent gap, will severely hurt their chances.

Big Ten:

Michigan State over Indiana: It's literally true that the Spartans play D like it's going out of style.

No. 24 Northwestern over Penn State: Don't tell me the Cats haven't been 6-0 in 50 years or beaten the Nittany Lions in eight. As if I'm not worried already.

Wisconsin over Illinois: Unless you turn the map the other way, and then Illinois tops Wisconsin.

Michigan over Purdue: Denard Robinson, it's time to throw the ball to your own team again.

No. 12 Ohio State over No. 21 Nebraska: Still, as I was taught in my youth in Michigan, a buckeye is a hairless nut.

Other games:

No. 5 Georgia over No. 6 South Carolina: Everybody on Georgia seems to run for 100 yards a game.

No. 2 Oregon over No. 23 Washington: It's worth noting that the Huskies beat Stanford, who beat USC. And that the Ducks are better than all of them.

No. 4 LSU over No. 10 Florida: When in doubt, I go with James Carville.

Northern Illinois over Ball State: I wouldn't want to play the Huskies right now. Of course, I wouldn't want to play Ball State either, since my chances wouldn't be good against an entire team. But the point remains: Northern is tough.

U. of C. over Allegheny: They both held off Oberlin last month, but the Maroons were more impressive and had an extra week to prepare for this one. Welcome to the south side, chumps!

Last week: I went 8-2. Season: 51-15.