Even in today’s era of dominant offenses in college football, certain defenses still leave opposing quarterbacks—and offensive coordinators—waking up with night sweats before big games.
Defenses can be dangerous to quarterbacks for several reasons—strong secondary play, takeaway ability, pass rush or ability to turn offenses into single-minded attacks.
Programs like Alabama, Stanford and LSU continue winning in volume with help from dominating defenses and power run games.
It’s no coincidence all three will find their names on this list.
However, the old cliché about defense winning championships no longer holds water.
Virginia Tech, for instance, fielded one of the strongest defenses in the nation this year. Yet the Hokies could never find consistent answers on offense and, therefore, finished the season 8-5.
That Michigan State struggled to a 7-6 campaign in 2012 wasn’t indicative of the team’s strong defensive prowess but rather its offensive ineptitude. The Spartans found a better, more polished attack in 2013. They won the Big Ten—and the Rose Bowl—as a direct result.
In other words, finding dominant defenses is no longer a matter of simply perusing the win-loss records of teams. More complicated factors must be examined instead—such as the ability to get after the passer, ability to create turnovers and a proven knack for holding teams below their season passing averages.
With that in mind, this is a list identifying the 11 defenses most capable of making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks. This list examines teams that will scare quarterbacks in 2014—not which defenses scared them in 2013.
Arizona State and South Carolina would have been ranked highly if this was a 2013 list. Both lost so many players—and so many impact players—that reloading seems like a tremendous challenge.
Here is our list:
All stats courtesy of http://www.cfbstats.com/2013/national/index.html.