Tide Run Defense Worth Noting

Everyone knows that Alabama's defense has been very, very good this year, leading the nation in rushing defense, total defense, and scoring defense. Consider this: Alabama opponents combined have rushed for 395 yards in eight games this year. So far this season, there have been 15 games in which an FBS team has rushed for 395 or more in a single game.

Alabama defenders and the rest of the Crimson Tide have an open date this weekend. So does LSU. Next Saturday, Nov. 5, it will be one of the most anticipated regular season games in college football history when No. 1 LSU comes to Tuscaloosa to take on the No. 2 Crimson Tide.

Both teams are 8-0 overall and 5-0 in Southeastern Conference games. CBS worked a deal to have the game from Bryant-Denny Stadium moved to prime time with kickoff at 7 p.m. CDT.

It is not unusual for an SEC coach to win the Paul W. Bryant Award as the nation's best. And it's no surprise that Alabama Coach Nick Saban and LSU Coach Les Miles have been named to the 2011 watch list for the award. Also from the SEC, Bobby Petrino of Arkansas and Steve Spurrier of South Carolina are on the list.

Quarterfinalists have been named for the Lott IMPACT Player Award, given to the nation's top defensive impact player. Bama's Dont'a Hightower won the weekly award after his performance in Bama's win over Tennessee last week and he is one of three players who will be in the Alabama-LSU game who are on the list. Tide safety Mark Barron and LSU safety Brandon Taylor are also quarterfinalists, as is South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

Alabama linebackers Hightower and Courtney Upshaw have been named semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker.

Since the SEC began keeping points off turnovers statistic in 2002, the fewest points allowed by an SEC team on its own turnovers is 14 by Alabama in 2005. This year, LSU and Alabama are challenging that mark. LSU opponents have scored only 3 points on its 3 turnovers while Alabama opponents have scored only 7 points on its 8 turnovers.

SEC teams have scored 20 defensive touchdowns this season in the first eight weeks. Last season, SEC teams scored 27 defensive touchdowns (including bowl games).

Among notes provided by the SEC Media Relations Office this week, this one should make Alabama followers most envious: Auburn leads the nation in percentage of touchbacks on kickoffs. On 40 kickoffs this season, Auburn has kicked into the end zone without a return 22 times, a 55.0 percentage.

Here are some other notes provided by the conference:

LSU's Brad Wing leads all freshmen punters in FBS with a 44.4 yard per punt average.

Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson has been named a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nation's top quarterback.

In the "close but no cigar" department, 18 of Georgia's 30 losses since 2003 have been decided by seven points or less. That is the highest percentage of close losses in the SEC (60 per cent). Alabama's 20 close losses out of 35 (57.1 percent) is second in the SEC. Vanderbilt has the most close losses with 25.

The SEC has three of 27 teams in FBS that has had 3-or-more games decided by one score. South Carolina has had the most (4) and is 3-1 in those games. Auburn and Mississippi State have had three (Auburn is 3-0, State 1-2). Louisville has had the most of any FBS school (6), while Louisiana Tech, Kansas State and Syracuse have had five.

The SEC averages 27.8 passing plays per game, which is 10th out of 11 FBS conferences. Only the Big Ten at 27.5 is fewer than the SEC. The SEC's 199.6 passing yards per game is the lowest of the 11 FBS conferences.

According to the NCAA, four SEC teams rank among the toughest schedules that have been played to date. Using cumulative past opposition's records, Tennessee has the SEC's toughest schedule. The Vols' past opponents this year is a cumulative 25-10 mark. Auburn is second in the SEC with a 30-16 mark followed by Ole Miss at 22-12 and LSU at 25-14. Nationally, Kansas has the toughest schedule with a 28-7 mark. Tennessee is third nationally, Auburn eighth, Ole Miss ninth and LSU 10th.

Arkansas's Joe Adams is fourth in the nation in punt returns, averaging 18.1 yards per return.

Florida's Jeff Demps leads the SEC and is seventh in the nation in average yards per carry at 8.31.

Georgia is fourth in the nation in holding opponents on third-downs. The Bulldogs have held opponents on third downs 26 of 96 times, a 27.08 success rate.

Kentucky is the third least penalized team in the FBS, averaging 3.4 penalties per game with an average of 29.5 yards penalized per game.

Ole Miss leads the nation in punt returns, averaging 27.75 yards per return.

Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks is second in the nation in passes defensed (interceptions + pass deflections) with 13.

South Carolina is second in the nation in least passing yards allowed per attempt (4.7). South Carolina opponents have averaged 133.7 yards per game passing, which is first in the nation.

Tennessee's Da'Rick Rogers leads the SEC in first downs gained on 3rd down receptions with nine.

Vanderbilt is tied for the national lead with 15 interceptions on defense along with Oklahoma State, Rutgers and North Carolina State.

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