Our college football betting handicappers are always keeping a watchful eye on what we can expect on the field, and this year, we are looking at the Top 10 defenses in the land that might ultimately help you beat the college football odds.
1: Alabama Crimson Tide – There’s just nothing like the mill that is the Alabama defense. The best of the best are always coming to the Crimson Tide for Head Coach Nick Saban, and every single season, he ultimately puts together one of the best units in America. There are a few questions in the secondary, but in the end, the team ranked first in the land in total defense at 250.0 yards per game, first in rush defense at 76.4 yards per game, and first in scoring at 10.9 points per game. There just isn’t a team in America that is more suited to run the table with just its defense than the Crimson Tide, and you know that this defense is set to rock and roll against Texas A&M to open the SEC West portion of the schedule.
2: Stanford Cardinal – Stanford’s defense isn’t going to get the same type of respect as some of the defenses in the SEC and elsewhere across the country, but the team is definitely fantastic on this side of the ball. The Cardinal ranked No. 1 in the land in sacks with 57 last year, and the squad ultimately only gave up 17.2 points per game, ranking 11th in the country. Considering the fact that the Pac-12 is one of the highest flying conferences in America, this is a huge accomplishment. Stanford returns 10 of its 11 starters from last year’s defense, and this year’s team should be every bit as good as last year’s was.
3: South Carolina Gamecocks – There is one reason and one reason only why the Gamecocks are here in the Top 5 defenses in the country: DE Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney is one of the best defensive players that we have seen in quite some time, and he is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most devastating defensive lineman that we have ever seen. If you don’t believe us, just look up the hit in the Outback Bowl against Michigan in which he single-handedly blew up a play and forced a turnover. Carolina did rank 12th in the land in total defense last year with 312.2 yards per game allowed, but not surprisingly, the team featured 40 sacks in the regular season, seven more than Alabama and a whopping 24 more than Michigan State, another of the best defenses in the game.
4: Florida State Seminoles – The garnet and gold are going to be tough once again this year if they can get anything out of their offense, particularly at the quarterback position now that QB EJ Manuel is playing for the Buffalo Bills. LB Christian Jones, S Lamarcus Joyner, and the rest of these stars on defense are going to be insane. The Seminoles ranked first in the land at 161.9 yards per game through the air. The front seven has been devastated, but the secondary is going to be remarkable. Add in there the fact that Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has some tremendous recruits on the way with a deep defensive line, and this is going to be a great ‘D’ once again this year.
5: Notre Dame Fighting Irish – The Fighting Irish don’t have LB Manti Te’o any longer, but they are still going to have a great defense this year. They’re going to have to, knowing that the offense is going to struggle without QB Everett Golson. The truth of the matter is that the defense just isn’t going to get as lucky as it did last year. The number of games that were won with defensive stands on the goal line was insane. Eventually, some of those plays are going to go the other way, and when they do, Notre Dame is going to give up some points. That being said, it’s insane to try to argue with a unit that brought the Golden Domers to the National Championship Game all by itself. Allowing 286.8 yards and 10.3 points per game in the regular season is no joke.
6: TCU Horned Frogs – Here’s another defense that isn’t going to get the credit that it deserves as being one of the best in the land. The Horned Frogs were the new kids on the block in the Big XII, and many figured that they were going to struggle trying to battle it out with the likes of Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Kansas State. Instead, TCU thrived, allowing 332.0 yards per game. The 23.1 points per game conceded was a bit higher than you would have figured for a team that we think is going to have a Top 10 defense in the land this season, but in the end, with 10 starters returning to a team that has a tremendous pedigree of playing fantastic defense, we know that Head Coach Gary Patterson is going to have his guys rolling again in 2013.
7: LSU Tigers – The Bayou Bengals always have one of the best defenses in the country, and last year’s team probably didn’t get the respect that it deserved. Remember that LSU was able to go into College Station and beat QB Johnny Manziel and the Aggies, and that was no small feat. There are going to be seven new starters on defense this year, but still, ranking eighth in the land in total defense at 307.6 yards per game and 12th in scoring at 17.5 points per game, even after getting beaten by Clemson in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, there is no way that we could have left the Tigers off of this list.
8: Micigan State Spartans – Many think that the Spartans have a Top 5 defense in the country, but now that DE William Gholston has gone to the NFL, we aren’t all that sure. Yes, there are a projected eight starters coming back from a unit that allowed just 274.2 yards per game last season, ranking fourth in America, but we know that a lot of that help came from an offense that ultimately really just ran the ball, ran the ball, and ran the ball some more. Playing in the Big Ten helped out Michigan State quite a bit, but we still think that this team has the best defense in the conference by a relatively healthy margin.
9: Texas Longhorns – Alright Texas, we’re buying in. Everyone thinks that the Longhorns are one of the contenders for the National Championship this year in a suddenly wide open Big XII. We aren’t quite going that far, but we do think that this defense is going to be tremendously improved. Remember that last year, UT allowed over 400 yards and nearly 30 points per game. However, just about every single starter is going to be returning from last year’s unit, and that’s going to really help. Getting rid of QB Collin Klein is going to be a big step in the right direction for all of the Big XII defenses as well. Don’t be shocked if the Longhorns take a huge jump in the right direction this year.
10: Wisconsin Badgers – The Badgers will round out our list of our Top 10 defenses for the 2013 season, and it’s because they are returning six men from a front seven that logged 31 sacks. The Big Ten is still one of the worst offensive conferences in America, and that’s going to help for sure as well. However, in the end, the truth of the matter is that Wisconsin is always one of the top defensive teams in American, and allowing 322.6 yards and 19.1 points per game last year was no mistake. Head Coach Bret Bielema might be gone, but the Badgers are still going to be outstanding on the defensive side of the ball.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.