NCAA Football

Top 15 Defenses In College Football Heading Into Week 15

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Top 15 Defenses In College Football Heading Into Week 15

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

In college football, just as its pro doppelganger, the offense gets most of the attention. And why shouldn’t it? People love to see high-flying aerial attacks with quarterbacks bombing it down the field to galloping receivers in stride.

And who doesn’t really love a good option attack? There are so many ways to hurt a defense and usually so little time as the best option attacks need mere minutes to carve up the opposition. Teams like Baylor, Oklahoma State and Florida State get tons of attention because they are capable of leaving scorched Earth while decimating everyone offensively.

But where’s the love for the defenses? Who doesn’t love some good, hard hitting with offensive lovers left cowering in a wake a sacks, interceptions and devastating collisions? Besides, the old saying goes that “defense wins championships,” and the No. 1 scoring defense in the nation also happens to be the No. 1 team in the nation. And you remember Alabama? The team that used to be unbeaten before one of the most improbable endings in college football history? They’ve had one of the top defensive units over the last several years and were about to make history on their way to a third straight national title before the insanity.

And right now, there are more than a few outfits putting some incredible defenses on the field, wreaking havoc on poor quarterbacks and coordinators everywhere. So let’s not waste time and get right into it. Here's a look at 15 of college football’s top defenses headed into week 15.

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15. TCU

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A top 20 unit in total defense, this outfit had been one of the few reasons the Horned Frogs were in most of the games they lost. They even helped lead near-upsets of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor. A tougher unit than the numbers suggest, this group has been formidable and underrated.

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14. Stanford

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Another top defense in terms of total defense, this one actually keeps points off the board with the best – 13th in the nation, allowing just 19 points per game. They have yet to surrender more than 28 points in any contest and have done that just twice (wins over No. 23 Arizona State and No. 15 Washington. They are a huge reason the Cardinal have wins over six ranked opponents this year.

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13. South Carolina

South Carolina
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

You can’t win in the SEC without defense these days and the Gamecocks have that. Just behind the aforementioned Cardinal in points against (20 points per game), they are led by uber NFL prospect Jadeveon Clowney. They’ve only exceeded 28 points against once – a 41-30 week two loss to Georgia.

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12. Notre Dame

Notre Dame
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

This might be one of the nation’s most underrated units. .They’ve had a few shootouts, but they are top 20 in total defense and surrender just 22.9 points per game, giving the Irish more than a fair shot to win most games. That defense also helped give Michigan State their only loss.

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11. Michigan State

Michigan State
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

These days you can’t talk about the top defenses without mentioning the Spartans. They’ve been stingy as can be in wins over Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern of late and look to shut down Ohio State’s vaunted run game. Coordinator Pat Narduzzi is one of the few who could be up to the task.

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10. LSU

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers, always rich in defensive talent, have been one of the best units in the business other than their losses to Georgia and Alabama. They limited Johnny Football and the famed Aggies offense to just 10 points two weeks ago and will be a fierce opponent headed into bowl season.

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9. Louisville

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Would you believe me if I told you the Cardinals were third in the nation in points against at 11.4? Well they are. One of the nation’s toughest defenses resides in the former Big East and hides in the shadow of Teddy Bridgewater. The Cardinal have allowed more than 20 points once – their only loss of the season, a 38-35 battle with UCF.

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8. Florida State

Florida State
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

You’re probably doing something right on defense when you’re the top ranked team in the country and likely headed for a national championship. Florida State is second in points scored per game but the leader in points against at an ultra-stingy 11 per game. Other than a crazy shootout with Boston College, the most they’ve allowed in any other game is 17. Incredible.

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7. BYU

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Fear the Mormons! The Cougars have quietly turned in a pretty solid year defensively, including a huge win over Texas way back in their second game. They’ve been on point the last month or so despite losses to teams with other top defenses in Wisconsin and Notre Dame.

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6. Florida

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Lost in the misery that is this season for the Gators is the fact that their defense is actually pretty good. They’re in the top 20 in total defense and points allowed, mitigating some of the turnovers on offense as best they can. They limited two top-ten outfits at the time (LSU/South Carolina) to 17 and 19 points respectively and still lost. Though the offense is abysmal, the defense in the Swamp is something to fear.

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5. Boise State

Boise State
Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Though the Broncos haven’t quite been the double-digit win outfit they’ve been in the past, their defense has helped them stay afloat. They’ve been prone to surrender some big outings (losses to Washington and Fresno State), but when they’re on it's hard to get much

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4. Alabama

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, how the once mighty feel so mortal. It took an insane ending for them to be knocked off the perch, but this defense still belongs to be near the top of the heap. Just behind Florida State, allowing 11.3 points per game, Nick Saban’s crew is tough, talented and physical as they come. And whoever they get next, heaven help them.

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3. Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a quietly successful year for the Hokies, and I almost did a double-take seeing them at No. 8 in points allowed at 17.4. Frank Beamer always has good defensive units and it’s easy to lose this team in the shuffle of a down year. The Hokies are as fierce and tough as ever on the defensive side of the ball.

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2. Wisconsin

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The Badgers' defense might be hiding in the shadow of the Spartan defense in the Big Ten, but the 6th best points against defense in the country is pretty good in its own right. In the games they’ve allowed more than 17 points, they’ve lost (except one 56-32 win over Illinois). Bucky and co. can line up and smash with the best defenses in the country.

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1. Baylor

Tim Heitman - USA TODAY Sports

With all of the talk about their offense, people tend to lose sight of the fact that Baylor is playing really good defense this year. Top 10 in scoring defense, the Bears are hindering their opponents enough to win tight games. It just gets lost in the shuffle when the offense is putting up 50 with regularity.