The adage "defense wins championships" may be a cliche, but it's a cliche for a reason. Explosive offenses have become the norm in college football, but if you can't stop anybody, you have no chance of winning your conference or earning a College Football Playoff berth.
These 5 college football programs stand out above the rest when it comes to pure defensive intensity and projected dominance in 2016.
It's okay if you're surprised to see Washington is on this list, but they most certainly belong here. The Huskies are flying under the radar despite having a Top 10 defense last year, and there's plenty of young talent on this team. Many are expecting the Huskies to make a major leap up the Pac-12 standings this year because of their defense, which is led by one of the rising stars in the coaching world in Pete Kwiatkowski.
Yes, Ohio State lost a lot of defensive talent to the NFL last season, but they still have plenty of talent - and new defensive coordinator Greg Schiano will get the most out of it. Raekwon McMillan might just be the best linebacker in the country, and Sam Hubbard could fill Joey Bosa's spot as an elite pass rusher.
5) LSU Tigers
LSU was just 21st in the nation on defense last year, but return nine starters. LSU added plenty of talent this offseason and new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda could produce the nation's top defense.
It wouldn't surprise me if you don't know anything about San Diego State or their defense, but you will. The Aztecs don't have the individual talent of the other teams on this list because of their Group of Five status, but they do return eight starters from a unit that finished last season ranked fifth.
FSU is only two years removed from being the nation's top defense, and they should be better than last year's unit that missed out on the Top 20. Six starters return and there's plenty of talent on the two-deep, headlined by safety Derwin James, who could be a top 15 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Wolverines poached one of the top defensive coordinators in Don Brown from Boston College. There's plenty of talent on the defense, including returning players and newcomers - headlined by defensive back Jabrill Peppers and corner Jourdan Lewis, both of whom should be preseason first-team All-Americans. Pro Football Focus thinks Michigan could end up with the best defense in the nation.
The Tide had the best defense in the country last season, and although they return just five starters, you know Nick Saban knows how to stockpile and coach defensive talent. With so many blue chip recruits, projecting another banner season for the Alabama defense isn't much of a stretch. It will be interesting to see how they do with Jeremy Pruitt taking over for Kirby Smart as Bama's DC, but young cornerbacks Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey give them two legitimate lockdown cornerbacks.Back to the NCAA Newsfeed
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