Nebraska Football: Ranking Top 5 Defenses Cornhuskers Will Challenge in 2012

Patrick RungeCorrespondent IAugust 23, 2012

Nebraska Football: Ranking Top 5 Defenses Cornhuskers Will Challenge in 2012

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    Nebraska’s offense has gotten a lot of attention in the offseason, but the success of that offense will be affected by the quality of defenses it goes up against this season. We’ve taken a look at the five best quarterbacks Nebraska will see in 2012. Now, let’s take a look at the five best defenses Taylor Martinez and the Cornhuskers will match up against this season.

5: UCLA

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    The Bruins’ defense has enough talent to cause any opponent problems, if new head coach Jim Mora Jr. can find a way to harness it. UCLA will be switching to a 3-4 defense in 2012, causing some changes for returning defensive linemen Datone Jones and Cassius Marsh. Returning linebackers Eric Kendricks and Patrick Larimore will have the opportunity in the new 3-4 scheme to become defensive playmakers.

    The Bruins also return both starting cornerbacks in Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price, along with safety Tevin McDonald.

4: Ohio State

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    Urban Meyer may be known for his offense, but he inherits a strong defensive squad in Columbus. The Buckeyes return all four starters to their defensive line, including Third-Team All-American John Simon. The linebacker corps will be a rebuilding project, but Ohio State returns all of its starting secondary.

3: Penn State

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    Sure, Penn State will be reeling from the effects of the NCAA sanctions levied earlier this summer. And sure, there has been a lot of talent that has transferred out of Happy Valley as a result.

    But the Nittany Lions had the 20th-ranked defense in the country last year. Standouts Jordan Hill and Sean Stanley will return to bolster the Lions’ defensive line, as will First-Team All-B1G linebacker Gerald Hodges along with Glenn Carson.

    Expect Penn State’s defense to be plenty stout when the Lions arrive in Lincoln.

2: Michigan

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    When Brady Hoke arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan’s defense was a mess. Hoke moved his players around, and the Wolverines’ defense responded admirably in his first season at the helm. Will Campbell will lead the defensive line, while team-leading tackler Kenny Demens will anchor the linebackers in the middle. 

1: Michigan State

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    Michigan State had the sixth-ranked overall defense last year, and return a number of stars from that squad. Defensive end William Gholston leads the defensive line and a team that led the B1G with 45 sacks in 2011. The Spartans also return all three linebackers, as well as two-time all-B1G cornerback Johnny Adams.

    Michigan State should provide the toughest defensive challenge for Nebraska in 2012.

    If you would like to contact Patrick directly to schedule an interview, ask a question or to get his recipe for a killer peach cobbler, send an email to patrickrunge@gmail.com.  (DISCLAIMER: Peach cobbler recipe might not be all that killer.)

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