Penn State’s defensive rankings among nation’s best

Penn State has started Big Ten play on fire on defense. In their first two Big Ten games played, at Illinois and this past weekend at home against Iowa, the Nittany Lions forced an astounding 9 turnovers to help set the tone and prevent its opponent from ever thinking it had much of a chance of doing any damage. The Nittany Lions are also coming off a shutout victory over the Hawkeyes in which they allowed fewer than 80 yards of total offense.

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has Penn State’s defense locked in and playing at a championship-caliber level. Although Penn State hasn’t been truly tested by an offense that is properly equipped, and that should carry over into this week’s game at Northwestern, it is still encouraging to see Penn State’s defense is not messing around with taking care of its business on the field.

So, four weeks into the college football season, just how does Penn State’s defense compare to some of the best around the nation? Comparing defenses is often difficult in this sport, especially with just about a quarter of the season to weigh the data. But trends for team defenses have started to come into focus with four games under most schools’ belts at this point, and Penn State’s defensive ranks are quite impressive.

Below is a ranking of the nation’s top defenses according to yards per game allowed. Within each ranking will be noted where that team ranks in national scoring defense, rushing defense, and passing defense. As you will see, Penn State is sitting in good spots across the board.

Penn State, 219.0 ypg allowed

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Scoring defense: 8.8 ppg allowed (4th)

Rushing defense: 81.5 ypg allowed (14th)

Passing defense: 138.0 ypg allowed (1st)

Air Force, 223.0 ypg allowed

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Scoring defense: 12.8 ppg allowed (15th – tied with Notre Dame)

Rushing defense: 62.0 ypg allowed (5th)

Passing defense: 161.0 ypg allowed (12th)

Michigan, 231.0 ypg allowed

Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press

Scoring defense: 5.8 ppg allowed (1st)

Rushing defense: 80.0 ypg allowed (13th)

Passing defense: 151.0 ypg allowed (7th)

Ohio, 237.2 ypg allowed

Matt Lunsford-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Lunsford-USA TODAY Sports

Scoring defense: 10.8 ppg allowed (7th – tied with Syracuse)

Rushing defense: 66.6 ypg allowed (7th)

Passing defense: 170.6 ypg allowed (20th)

Florida, 244.8 ypg allowed

Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Scoring defense: 13.5 ppg allowed (18th – tied with Alabama)

Rushing defense: 82.0 ypg allowed (15th)

Passing defense: 162.8 ypg allowed (15th)

Ohio State, 255.5 ypg allowed

The Columbus Dispatch
The Columbus Dispatch

Scoring defense: 8.5 ppg allowed (2nd – tied with Oklahoma)

Rushing defense: 106.5 ypg allowed (36th)

Passing defense: 149.0 ypg allowed (5th)

Notre Dame, 260.6 ypg allowed

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Scoring defense: 12.8 ppg allowed (15th)

Rushing defense: 111.2 ypg allowed (43rd)

Passing defense: 149.4 ypg allowed (6th)

Clemson, 262.8 ypg allowed


Scoring defense: 22.5 ppg allowed (58th)

Rushing defense: 79.0 ypg allowed (12th)

Passing defense: 183.8 ypg allowed (29th)

UCLA, 263.8 ypg allowed

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Scoring defense: 11.0 ppg allowed (9th)

Rushing defense: 77.75 ypg allowed (11th)

Passing defense: 186.0 ypg allowed (32nd)

Utah, 263.8 ypg allowed

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Scoring defense: 9.5 ppg allowed (6th)

Rushing defense: 51.0 ypg allowed (4th)

Passing defense: 212.8 ypg allowed (59th)

Story originally appeared on Nittany Lions Wire