While Alabama’s defensive performance wasn’t unexpected, the Crimson Tide still never cease to amaze us by raising the bar. There are plenty of head-turning defensive numbers this season.

Massive dropoff for Missouri

Some thought Missouri would take a step back on defense, but not 13 steps back, especially with former defensive coordinator Barry Odom at the helm. After ranking second in the SEC in total defense last season (302.0 yards allowed per game), the Tigers are dead last this season (479.7).

When looking at the most yards allowed per game by SEC teams since 2000, there’s only one team that’s given up more than this year’s Mizzou team.

SEASONSCHOOLYARDS ALLOWED PER GAME
2001Vanderbilt489.2
2016Missouri479.7
2013Texas A&M475.8
2001Kentucky475.4
2003Mississippi State473.5

LSU’s 21-point limit

LSU has the fewest games this season (1) of not allowing teams to score more than 21 points. The only game has come against Texas A&M in the regular-season finale. Next-best are Alabama and Wisconsin, who each have 2.

And this was a team in its first season with a new defensive coordinator and a new scheme, but I guess that’s why Dave Aranda gets the big bucks.

You don’t run on the Tide

Alabama leads the SEC in rushing defense. Have you heard that before? Yes, because they’ve done that for six straight seasons, and no SEC team in history has had a run this long.

The only team that even managed to do it four straight seasons was Bear Bryant’s Alabama teams in the 1970s.

This year’s team is only allowing 63.4 rushing yards per game, which would be the fewest by any SEC team since 2000.

Teams took the top off Rocky Top

Tennessee’s defense struggled big time towards the end of the regular season, and injuries certainly took their tool.

The Vols allowed 550-plus yards in five of their last seven games. No other SEC team had allowed that many yards in that many games since 2000. That stretch also coincided with the team’s first loss of the season against Texas A&M, eventually leading to a 3-4 finish.

Tennessee had only surrendered 600-plus yards six times in its history entering 2016, but the team allowed three straight to end the year. Here are the most single-game yards allowed in Tennessee history. As you can see, five of the top 10 games are from 2016.

SEASONOPPONENTYARDS ALLOWED
2016Missouri740
2012Troy721
2013Oregon687
2016Kentucky635
1997Kentucky634
2014South Carolina625
1988Washington State618
2016Vanderbilt608
2016Alabama594
2016Texas A&M592

Alabama’s second offense

The Crimson Tide had gotten so accustomed to scoring on defense that many began to wonder what was wrong when the unit had gone on a four-game hiatus without a defensive score.

That was before Alabama’s decimation of Florida in the SEC Championship Game in which Minkah Fitzpatrick returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. That gave Alabama 10 defensive touchdowns on the season, tied with 2011 Southern Miss for the 2nd-most by an FBS school since the turn of the century.

MOST DEFENSIVE TDS IN SINGLE SEASON SINCE 2000

SCHOOLDEFENSIVE TDsSEASON
1. SMU112012
T2. Alabama102016
T2. Southern Miss102011

Defenses down

As a whole, defenses haven’t lived up to the SEC’s standard. The conference has seen nine of the 14 teams allow 400-plus yards per game. This comes one year after the league only had two teams (Auburn and South Carolina) yield that many.

Meanwhile, five teams (Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi State and Ole Miss) gave up 30-plus points a contest a year after none did so.

Trading DCs works for Auburn, LSU

A year after trading defensive coordinators, both LSU and Auburn certainly seem to have benefitted. Here’s a look at both teams and their marked improvement from 2015 in a few key areas.

2015 AUBURN2016 AUBURN2015 LSU2016 LSU
Opp PPG11th2nd10th3rd
Opp YPG13th5th5th3rd
Opp passer rating8th3rd12th4th

Georgia sees red in the red zone

In the red zone, the Bulldogs have struggled mightily to keep teams out of the end zone. In those situations, teams have converted touchdowns on 29 of 35 (78.4 percent) trips inside Georgia’s 20-yard line. That rate ranks fourth-worst in the FBS with only Oregon, Bowling Green and Old Dominion doing worse.

The Bulldogs have allowed points (whether touchdown or field goal) on 94.6 percent of drives, only better than Texas State (96.7).

Razorbacks getting run over

Arkansas has allowed 36 rushing touchdowns this season, which on record, is by far the most ever allowed in a single season by the school and the most by any SEC team since at least 2000.

While many could point to the seven rushing touchdowns that Auburn put on Arkansas as the main culprit for this happening, the Hogs allowed three-plus TDs on the ground in eight of 12 games in 2016.

Make a play, Gamecocks and Aggies!

The only two teams not to record a defensive touchdown this season are South Carolina and Texas A&M. When it comes to the Gamecocks, the school hasn’t had a defensive score since Nov. 22, 2014 vs. South Alabama, when Brison Williams returned an interception 21 yards to the house.

South Carolina hasn’t had a fumble recovery for a touchdown since Nov. 17, 2012 vs. Wofford, when Akeem Auguste took one 31 yards for a score.