Which Husker defense was ranked as one of the greatest of all-time

A new list by Bill Connelly of ESPN* attempted to rank the Top 50 defenses in college football history. Here are the questions he asks and the criteria he uses to create his verbatim.

What’s more impressive …

A. Allowing 1.3 points per game in 1939, as Tennessee did under Bob Neyland during one of college football’s lowest scoring ebbs?

B. Allowing 5.2 points per game in 1972, as Michigan did under Bo Schembechler?

C. Allowing 13.0 points per game in 2016, as Alabama did under Nick Saban during maybe the most offense-friendly season ever?

Below are my attempts at answering exactly that. Adjusting for opponents, tempo (where applicable) and my own personal whims, here are what I view as the 50 best defenses in the history of top-division college football.

I’m going to be a completely honest, dear reader. I disagree with almost every entry on this list. If you create a list of the greatest defenses in the sports history, I don’t care what criteria you use; the 2001 Miami Hurricanes must be included, not just in the Top 25 but at the top of the whole darn list. The 2001 Canes defeated five ranked teams and gave up an average of 9.75 PPG with three shutouts. The Caines also had nine players from that defense drafted in the first round over multiple drafts.

Below is the Top 25 as listed by Bill Connelly of ESPN*. Scroll down to see which Husker defense made the list and where they rank among some of the greatest of all-time.

1957 Auburn

Scoring defense: 2.8 PPG

Record: 10-0

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

1953 Maryland

Scoring defense: 3.5 PPG

Record: 10-1

Maryland Helmet (Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)

1966 Ole Miss

Scoring defense: 5.9 PPG

Record: 8-3

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

2006 Virginia Tech

Scoring defense: 11 PPG

Record: 10-3

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

1946 Notre Dame

Scoring defense: 2.7 PPG

Record: 8-0-1

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2019 Georgia

Scoring defense: 12.6 PPG

Record: 12-2

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

2020 Georgia

Scoring defense: 20.4

Record: 8-2

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

2021 Georgia

Scoring defense: 10.2 PPG

Record: 14-1

Syndication: Online Athens

2009 Nebraska

Scoring defense: 10.4 PPG

Record: 10-4

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

1992 Alabama

Scoring defense: 9.4 PPG

Record: 13-0

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

1997 Michigan

Scoring defense: 9.5 PPG

Record: 12-0

Photo By USA TODAY Sports

1945 Navy

Scoring defense: 7.2 PPG

Record: 7-1-1

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


1932 USC

Scoring defense: 1.3 PPG

Record: 10-0

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

1991 Miami

Scoring defense: 8.3 PPG

Record: 12-0

Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

1986 Oklahoma

Scoring defense: 6.8 PPG

Record: 11-1

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

1972 Michigan

Scoring defense: 5.2 PPG

Record: 10-1

Michigan Wolverines football helmet (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)s

2011 LSU

Scoring defense: 11.3 PPG

Record: 13-1

Syndication: Montgomery

2011 LSU

Scoring defense: 8.2 PPG

Record: 12-1

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

1939 Tennessee

Scoring defense: 1.3 PPG

Record: 10-1

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

1965 Michigan State

Scoring defense: 6.9 PPG

Record: 10-1

Michigan Wolverines football helmet (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

1959 LSU

Scoring defense: 4.5 PPG

Record: 9-2

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

1959 Ole Miss

Scoring defense: 1.9 PPG

Record: 10-1

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

2016 Alabama

Scoring defense: 13.0 PPG

Record: 14-1

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Alabama

Scoring defense: 11.9 PPG

Record: 13-1

Syndication: Montgomery

Story originally appeared on Cornhuskers Wire