Defense leads top teams in offensive-minded game


Defense leads top teams in offensive-minded game

Offense is in, but defense is still what it takes to win big.

That's the lesson of college football's 2012 season.

For the fourth straight year, scoring rose during the regular season - with FBS schools averaging 29.6 points per game. That's up from 28.3 per game last season, from 27 in 2009.

Despite all of the pass-happy, fast-paced fun, those atop the BCS standings paint a far different picture of what it takes to be successful. Notre Dame, Alabama and Florida are Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the BCS standings, and they also fall into that same order in another category - points allowed.

The No. 1 Fighting Irish (10.3 points allowed per game), No. 2 Crimson Tide (10.7) and No. 3 Gators (12.9) led all BCS schools in scoring defense this season.

It's no surprise that the top two in that category will meet in the BCS National Championship game on Jan. 7 in Miami, while Florida is headed to the Sugar Bowl against Louisville on Jan. 2.

It's hard to lose if the other team doesn't score.

IRISH FIGHTING: While Alabama had to rally in the closing minutes against Georgia this weekend to reach the championship game, Notre Dame was able to sit back with its ticket already punched.

The Fighting Irish and third-year coach Brian Kelly also managed to assume the mantle of top defensive team in the country, thanks to the Crimson Tide's 28 points allowed in the 32-28 win over the Bulldogs. Notre Dame, which secured its spot in the championship game with last week's win over USC, has allowed a grand total of 10 touchdowns in 12 games this season.

Alabama led the country in scoring defense entering this weekend's action, allowing just 9.25 points per game. Despite falling to No. 2 behind the Fighting Irish, the Crimson Tide still lead the country in total defense - allowing just 246 yards per game.

It's doubtful Alabama minds falling behind Notre Dame in any given statistic all that much, not when it has the opportunity face the Fighting Irish in person - bringing the full might of six straight Southeastern Conference national championships with it.

ALL-FUN LEAGUE: The Big 12 continued to carry the mantle of the country's top offensive conference this season.

For the fourth time in five seasons, the conference's teams at least tied for the most points scored per game. This season, Big 12 teams averaged 35.8 points per game.

Oklahoma State (44.7) led the way, with Baylor (44.1) a close second. Five of the conference's 10 teams averaged at least 40.2 points per game, while Texas Tech (37.8) and Texas (36.1) were hardly slouches.

Lowly Kansas pulled up the rear, averaging a paltry 18.2 points per game.

The only year the Big 12 hasn't at least tied for the most points scored over the last five seasons was in 2010.

The conference that led the way that season, you ask? That was the (allegedly) defensive-minded SEC, whose teams scored an average of 31 points per game that year.

50-POINT CLUB: A pair of programs topped the 50-point mark on average this season.

Louisiana Tech, which surprisingly missed out on a bowl game, led the country with an eye-popping 51.5 points per game. The Bulldogs scored at least 44 points in all but one of their games, a 28-14 win at New Mexico State on Oct. 27.

Despite all the points, and a memorable near-miss in a 59-57 loss to Texas A&M on Oct. 13, Louisiana Tech's season will likely be best remembered for the bowl game that wasn't.

DUCKS CALLING: Oregon was the other team to top the half-century mark.

The Ducks averaged 50.8 points per game this season, though that number could have been much higher were it not for coach Chip Kelly's kindly ways.

Oregon led by significant margins in several of its games this season before shutting things down. That included taking a 50-3 second-quarter lead over Arkansas State in its season opener before ``settling'' for a 57-34 win.

The Ducks scored at least 41 points in all but one of their games this season. That, of course, was their only loss - a 17-14 setback to Stanford.

EXTRA POINTS: Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato topped several of the passing categories to end the regular season, including passing yards per game (350.1). ... Baylor quarterback Nick Florence led the country in total offense, averaging 387.7 yards - gaining 4,121 through the air and another 531 on the ground. ... Florence narrowly topped Heisman Trophy hopeful Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, who averaged 383.3 total yards per game. ... Arizona sophomore Ka'Deem Carey topped the regular season with an average of 146.4 yards rushing per game, 1,757 total, though Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch finished with the most yards (1,771) rushing.

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

Braden Holtby has made Barry Trotz’s weekend very difficult, but in a good way.

Back-to-back games against the New York Islanders offered the Capitals an opportunity to play both Philipp Grubauer and Holtby. Grubauer stayed hot earning another win for Washington. On Friday, Holtby got his first start since March 6 and played very well.

“A win is good,” Holtby said after the game. “I felt pretty comfortable. Some things to build off of and things that I want to get better at. It was a step in the right direction.”


A 22 save effort on Friday was bookended by two big saves. The first shot Holtby faced was a turnover on the power play that led to a dangerous shorthanded scoring opportunity for John Tavares early in the first period. Then in the third, with the Capitals leading 5-3 and the Islanders trying to mount a comeback, Holtby turned aside a breakaway opportunity for star rookie Mathew Barzal.

“I thought he was pretty solid,” Trotz said. “He looked really confident.”

“I felt a lot better,” Holtby said. “Not that I was feeling horrible before, it's just you get refreshed. It's like anything, you have a week off work, a holiday or something, you come back a little refreshed.”

And that brings us to Sunday.

On Sunday, the Capitals play the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are a team in playoff position in desperate need of points after seven of their last eight games.

When asked on Wednesday who he thought would start Sunday’s game, Trotz said, “We're in a result business and we need some results so we'll see who is looking the sharpest and gives us the best chance to win.”

Both Grubauer and Holtby were impressive in their starts over the Islanders. You can’t argue Holtby is suddenly the hotter hand after one win considering how well Grubauer has played of late, but if Holtby remaisn the team’s No. 1, shouldn’t he get the next start after a strong winning performance?


Trotz was asked after the game who would start on Sunday after Holtby’s win.

“They're both playing well so I can't even answer that right now to be honest with you,” he said. “I do know that we have a number of games this week and whatever way go, obviously I'm going to sit down with the coaches and whatever way we go, I think they're both going to get some time this week.”

“I think you have to take it game-by-game,” Trotz added. “Bottom line is that you've got to make a decision and go with it and if your decision is that goalie A is a little hotter or you've just got a gut feel then you go with it and you have to live with it good or bad.”

So for now, it sounds as if we will see a rotation in net as Trotz continues evaluating which netminder gives the team the best chance to win in the playoffs. It is a tough position for the Caps’ bench boss, but, if both goalies continue to perform, having to choose between a hot Grubauer and a resurgent Holtby is a good problem to have and much preferable to having to choose between backup Grubauer and slumping Holtby.

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Not only did UMBC own Virginia on the court, they owned the Twitter world

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Not only did UMBC own Virginia on the court, they owned the Twitter world

They said it could not be done, no No. 16 seed would ever beat a No. 1 seed. The odds would be too great and the obstacle too steep.

As we all know, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), just proved that all wrong.


All season the top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers dominated their opponents. They dictated pace, held opponents to less than 55 points, and smothered teams by forcing turnovers.

The roles filled on Friday evening and with an up-tempo 74-54 victory, UMBC proved the impossible.

The hardwood is not the only place that UMBC owned last night, they grabbed headlines, attention, and thousands of fans (literally) on Twitter.

Someone grabbed a hold of the UMBC Athletics Twitter account and took the upset by storm.

It all started when Seth Davis poked the bear:

and they were relentless.

Oh yeah, I forgot Seth Davis:

Then they started get snarky and owning everyone:

As someone the graduated from a commuter school, I can relate:

More Seth Davis:

Back to Twitter:

I guess that application wave actually was a thing or people wanted to know what ‘UMBC’ stood for:

Game. Set. History.

Now here come the shots against other schools:

Yeah, don’t jump on this bandwagon Terps fans. Stay in College Park:

I did not take long for other social media icons to start reaching out:

Oh and Seth Davis eventually did apologize:

Started the night at 5,588 and jumped up to 51.7 K. No one cares what you think Steven:

If you liked what you saw thank Zach Seidel, not an intern, not a student athlete who provided those tweets last night.

Zach, you just earned yourself a raise and we’ll see you in the Second Round.