Sorry for the hiatus, but we're back with our offseason SDPI previews. I promise the next seven will go a lot faster than the first four. In this installment we tackle the Pac-12, a league that has sent two teams (and the same two teams I might add) to the BCS in each of the past three seasons. Here, as always, is a link to last year's Pac-12 post.
First here are the 2012 Pac-12 standings.
And here are the 2012 Pac-12 SDPI standings. The standings are sorted by division by total SDPI with ranking for each
category (out of 12 teams) in parentheses.
For the first time since 1999, the Stanford Cardinal won the Pac-12. Though they ranked a notch below the powerful Oregon Ducks, Stanford shut Oregon down in their head-to-head matchup (just their second win in the series since 2001) and won the division title and the opportunity to win the overall crown in the Pac-12 Championship Game. In other minutiae news, UCLA became the first school to play in the Pac-12 Championship Game more than once.
So Who Was Better Than Their Record Showed?
Despite their disappointing season, the Trojans from Southern Cal actually played at a relatively high level. The Trojans were above-average on both sides of the ball, but were 0-2 in one-score games, lost to three teams that finished the season ranked in the top-seven, and didn't show up for their bowl game in El Paso. Certainly, they were a major disappointment after beginning the season ranked number one, but they were far from your ordinary 7-6 also-ran.
So Who Was Worse Than Their Record Showed?
No one in the Pac-12 significantly outperformed their peripherals, but UCLA rated out below both Arizona State and Southern Cal in their division, despite winning the crown. The Bruins can thank a 3-1 record in one-score (regular season) conference games, including an exciting 45-43 victory over Arizona State that ultimately decided the division championship.
Best Offense: Oregon 1.80
The Ducks rolled up over 400 yards of offense in all nine of their league games and topped the 40-point barrier in each game save their loss to Stanford.
Worst Offense: Colorado -1.49
The Buffs opened conference play by gaining 531 yards in a win against Washington State. They averaged just 279 yards per game the rest of the way and did not win again.
Best Defense: Stanford 1.51
Arizona and Oregon gouged them (by their lofty standards at least) totaling over 1000 yards against the Cardinal defense. However, the other seven Pac-12 foes could only muster an average of 274 yards per game against Stanford, making those seven teams the equivalent of Colorado when they faced the nerds from Palo Alto.
Worst Defense: Arizona -1.98
It took a lot to be worse than Colorado at anything in 2012, but Arizona was up to the challenge. Four conference opponents gained over 600 yards against the porous Wildcat defense, and only one team failed to top 400 yards of offense.
What to Make of Arizona State?
The 2012 Sun Devils are a hard team to figure out. On the one hand, they ranked 3rd in SDPI, behind Oregon and Stanford. On the other hand, each of their five conference victories came against the bottom five teams in SDPI. However, their wins were usually convincing, as only one was by a single score, and they came by an average of 24 points per game. But when the Sun Devils stepped up in competition, they were more South Park Satan than powerful Prince of Darkness. In their four league losses, against teams ranked first (Oregon), fourth (Southern Cal), fifth (Oregon State), and seventh (UCLA), only one was close (the two-point loss to UCLA). The other three came by an average of nearly 18 points per game. Perhaps Dennis Green said it best, 'they are who we thought they were'. The Sun Devils were equivalent to a seventh grade bully in 2012, towering over the other kids on the playground with inhalers or who had yet to enter puberty, but not in the same class as the high school kids they long to emulate.