The 2009 Blackshirts set the bar unfairly high for defense in the Big 12, but there were plenty of teams at the bottom who have to improve in 2010.
Here are my three, and tomorrow we'll take a look at which roads to recovery are shortest.
In need of repair
1. Texas A&M
The Aggies' defense had the most spectacular failures in 2009, giving up 40-plus points in five games (all losses) and 60-plus points twice. Texas A&M gave up almost five whole points per game more than the conference's 11th-ranked team, and gave up the most passing yards per game at 254.7, ranking 106th nationally out of college football's 120 teams. They weren't much better against the run, giving up over 171 yards per game, 11th in the league.
Kansas' struggles really started in conference play. The Jayhawks began the season 5-0 and 1-0 in conference play before closing on a seven-game losing streak, in part because of the defense's poor play. Kansas gave up just under 36 points per game in conference play, allowing at least 30 points in all but one of its eight conference games, a road loss to Kansas State. In conference play, Kansas intercepted just three passes.
Baylor ranked in the conference's bottom third in two of the three major defensive categories, but its troubles forcing turnovers land it here. As you saw in our offensive portion of this exercise, Baylor struggled on both sides of the ball last season, and finished conference play with a turnover margin of minus-10, worst in the Big 12. The Bears also gave up 190 first downs. Only Texas A&M and Iowa State were worse, with 191, but no other team gave up more than 175 over the eight-game span.