Kids say the dumbest things. Or do they?
With his team preparing for its opener against Mississippi State in Houston next weekend, Oklahoma State offensive lineman Parker Graham popped off about the SEC and the conditioning of its players:
“You know, I just think that the SEC is blown a little bit out of proportion. There’s a lot of great players down there and it’s a heavily recruited area, but at the same time we play really fast offense here and sometimes those SEC defenses lose their breath against it. They have big guys but they aren’t very well conditioned. We’re gonna play our best ball and see what happens.”
Fair enough. Has Graham been having that drummed into his ears by Oklahoma State’s coaches all summer? Probably. Isn’t that how you would try to motivate your team as it prepares for an opener versus an SEC team? (Having a player spout it back to the media likely wasn’t the plan, though.)
The question here is simple: Is Graham right about SEC teams sometimes losing their breath against fast-paced, high-octane Big 12 offenses? Yes and no.
Over the past five seasons, SEC squads have matchup against Big 12 opponents 15 times. The guys from Dixie have won 11 of those 15 matchups. Only five times in those 15 games did a Big 12 offense score more than 24 points:
|2012||L||Texas 66||Ole Miss 31||Yes|
|2012||W||Texas A&M 41||Oklahoma 13||No|
|2011||W||Arkansas 42||Texas A&M 38||Yes|
|2011||W||Arkansas 29||Kansas State 16||No|
|2010||W||Arkansas 24||Texas A&M 17||No|
|2010||L||Colorado 28||Georgia 27||Yes|
|2010||W||LSU 41||Texas A&M 24||No|
|2009||W||Alabama 37||Texas 21||No|
|2009||W||Arkansas 47||Texas A&M 19||No|
|2009||L||Oklahoma State 24||Georgia 10||No|
|2009||W||Georgia 44||Texas A&M 20||No|
|2009||W||Ole Miss 21||Oklahoma State 7||No|
|2008||L||Texas 51||Arkansas 10||Yes|
|2008||W||Florida 24||Oklahoma 14||No|
|2008||W||Ole Miss 47||Texas Tech 34||Yes|
Ironically, five of the SEC victories against the Big 12 came against Texas A&M. But as soon as the Aggies jumped into the SEC, they ran up an 11-2 record and throttled Oklahoma, holding them to just 13 points in last season’s Cotton Bowl. Welcome to the club, Ags.
Going back a full 10 seasons the SEC has faced off against the Big 12 34 times. The league’s record is 22-12 over that decade. Big 12 teams crossed the 24-point barrier 13 times in those 34 contests.
|2007||W||Alabama 30||Colorado 24||No|
|2007||L||Missouri 38||Arkansas 7||Yes|
|2007||W||Auburn 23||Kansas State 13||No|
|2007||W||Georgia 35||Oklahoma State 14||No|
|2007||L||Missouri 38||Ole Miss 25||Yes|
|2006||L||Oklahoma State 34||Alabama 31||Yes|
|2006||W||Auburn 17||Nebraska 14||No|
|2006||W||Georgia 14||Colorado 13||No|
|2006||L||Missouri 34||Ole Miss 7||Yes|
|2005||W||Alabama 13||Texas Tech 10||No|
|2005||L||Missouri 38||S. Carolina 31||Yes|
|2004||L||Texas 22||Arkansas 20||No|
|2004||W||Tennessee 38||Texas A&M 7||No|
|2003||W||Arkansas 38||Texas 28||Yes|
|2003||W||Arkansas 27||Missouri 14||No|
|2003||L||Oklahoma 20||Alabama 13||No|
|2003||W||LSU 21||Oklahoma 14||No|
|2003||L||Texas Tech 49||Ole Miss 45||Yes|
|2003||W||Ole Miss 31||Oklahoma State 28||Yes|
More irony here: Of the eight losses the Big 12 hung on the SEC from 2003 through 2007, exactly half were orchestrated by Missouri, who moved to the SEC with Texas A&M last season.
Now back to the first part of Graham’s statement: “We play really fast offense here and sometimes those SEC defenses lose their breath against it.”
Technically, he’s correct. Sometimes SEC defenses do give up bushels of points to Big 12 offenses. About once every three games over the last decade or over the last five years, depending on where you draw your cut-off point. So might Oklahoma State run roughshod over Mississippi State next weekend? It’s possible. Most pundits have picked State to finish at or near the bottom of the SEC West Division. It wouldn’t be a major surprise to see a Cowboys program that’s been on higher ground in recent years knock off a program that traditionally has been bad to decent.
But that’s where the second part of Graham’s comment comes into play: “They have big guys but they aren’t very well conditioned.” If MSU’s big defensive lineman are in good shape, Oklahoma State’s offense might not have as much success as their chatty lineman believes. Again, look at those numbers — 34 games, but just 13 with an SEC defense surrendering more than 24 points.
The conference’s reputation is on your shoulders, State. Everyone in the SEC footprint — aside from Ole Miss fans, of course — will be pulling for you.