ESPN’s 50 all-time greatest defenses includes this Florida squad

·2 min read

ESPN’s Bill Connelly recently released his list of the 50 greatest college football defenses of all time. Connelly is famous for being college football’s resident “numbers guy”, with his SP+ ratings and annual returning production analysis consumed by the masses.

According to Connelly, only the 2012 Florida Gators defense made the list at No. 26. Connelly’s justification is as follows.

Against a schedule featuring nine opponents with eight-plus wins, and with an offense that lacked much initiative (to put it diplomatically), Florida allowed a combined 17 points to top-10 LSU and South Carolina teams and damn near made the BCS championship game by riding a defense that boasted Sharrif Floyd at the front, Matt Elam at the back and a bunch of standouts in between.

The Gators allowed 14.5 points per game en route to an 11-2 season which saw the Gators start 7-0 before a 17-9 loss to Georgia, knocking them out of the SEC East title picture. They would run the table the rest of the way until losing 33-23 to a Teddy Bridgewater-led Louisville team in the Sugar Bowl.

Connelly clearly took a numbers approach to his rankings, as is evident by a certain writer’s (me) belief (again, me) that there are other Florida Gators defenses that are better than the 2012 edition Connelly put on this list.

*camera cuts to me The Office-style as I pull out a sign that reads #JusticeForThe2015GatorsDefense*

Connelly’s No. 1 defense of all time? The 2017 Alabama defense that went 13-1 and allowed 11.9 ppg and included players such as Minkah Fitzpatrick, Rashaan Evans, Raekwon Davis, Trevon Diggs, among others. That team lost to Clemson in the CFP National Championship game 35-31 in a legendary game that ended with a de facto walk-off touchdown reception by Hunter Renfrow.


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