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People on this board, when they look at our performances on the field ask the question, whether aloud or in their heads, "How would we do if we were in the SEC, the Big XII, the Pac 12, and to a much lesser extent, the ACC?" The answers to those questions, at least for the 2012 questions can be found here as I'll be looking at how Nebraska's performance in the 2012 season would have fared in the SEC, Pac 12, Big XII, and the ACC, the legitimate BCS conferences. How did I get here: Using a multitude of variables, I created a database with all of the data from Nebraska and from the SEC, Pac 12, Big XII, and ACC. In order to create a fair comparison, those stats were standardized as if they were measured using the same scale. Then, through the use of a cluster analysis, four distinct clusters were identified, and the means on those standardized values (as well as the unstandardized wins value) were compared. So all that being said, here's how Nebraska would have fared in the Southeastern Conference, the best conference in the nation. The Worst The season was a struggle for these teams in the SEC. They averaged just .67 conference wins and 7.33 conference losses. In comparison to the rest of the SEC, these teams: Offensively: These teams were 2nd in attempted passes but 3rd in completed passes. However, their completed passes did not go for many yards, as they came in last in pass yards, yards per completion, and completion to touchdown percentage. In the running game, these teams didn't run the ball very often, coming in 3rd in rush attempts. They also weren't very effective at running the ball, as these teams came in last in rushing yards, yards per carry, and attempts to touchdown conversion. In the turnover department, these teams had trouble holding onto the ball, having the 2nd most turnovers in the conference. Defensively: Opponents of these teams didn't attempt to pass the ball very much as these teams faced the 3rd fewest pass attempts. But teams found mixed success in the passing game ranking 2nd in completions, pass yards, and completions to touchdowns allowed, but 3rd in yards allowed per completion. The combination of these results suggest that opponents mostly ran the ball down the field, threw the occasional pass in the drive, then passed a lot in goal line situations against these teams. The reason opponents ran the ball so much against these teams is because these teams' run defenses were atrocious throughout the year. These teams faced the 2nd most rushing attempts, but allowed the most rush yards, rush yards per attempt, and rush to touchdown conversion. These guys also had problems forcing opposing teams to make mistakes, ranking 3rd in turnovers forced. Strength of Schedule: The wins column may be misleading for these teams, as they faced the toughest schedules in the entire conference. So either they just weren't good period, or they were good, but the teams they faced were just flat out better. Who Are They? Would you think Nebraska belongs to this group of teams? If you do, you'll have to guess again. The teams who belong to this cluster are: Auburn, Kentucky, and Missouri.
By now, I'm sure we're all aware of Nebraska adding BYU to the schedule, as well as the discussion that there is a handshake deal which may add BYU to future schedules in all sports, not just Football. If not, here's the article from the Journal Star discussing the football development. Now, here's the thing that gets disconcerting--we all know that the Big XII isn't exactly the most ethical of conferences, as we saw in the 2009 Big XII Football championship game and multiple times during the 2010 season when we were leaving. It's one of the (many) reasons Nebraska fans aren't exactly chomping at the bit to schedule Big XII teams during the non-conference season (save for Oklahoma, which is equal parts sensible and insanity). So, now we make with reports that BYU is aggressively seeking a seat in the Big XII. Of note: Now, there were talks about BYU joining the Big XII that fizzled out for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) BYU only wanting to be a football member and not wanting to play any sport on Sunday. Now, it looks like BYU is willing to go all-in with the Big XII. Perhaps BYU is realizing what Texas figured out--that independence isn't worth the headache? --- Now, regarding Nebraska: any future home and home with BYU will likely be with them as a Big XII member. That includes being subjected to all of the old Big XII drama off the field once again (sure to give fans and players tiredhead), but all of the corrupt officiating on the field as well...perhaps as soon as 2015. Now, the problems weren't as pronounced with other sports during our last season, and I know we've already scheduled former Big XII teams in non-football sports--off the top of my head, ISU in Volleyball, and KSU in baseball. But the question is, do we really want to subject ourselves to reliving the past and having to hear Texas' side of the Big XII events taken as gospel in the media leading up to the season? Do we want to subject our kids on the football side of the equation to potentially the biggest helping of conference home cooking served up this side of a (then) Pac-10 officiated event? Is there an upside to engaging in all of this just to play BYU? Frankly, I think we (as an institution) deserve better. I do hope that if BYU goes to the Big XII, we say 'thanks, but no thanks'. (And yes, this is trivial, but it's the freakin' off-season. There are only so many 'what will be the 2-deep for the Spring Game' threads a fan can take).