Here’s something for your narrative, if you think the country’s only good college football defenses play in the SEC or Big 12.
In terms of points allowed per game, four of the eight best defenses reside in the Atlantic Coast Conference: Boston College (No. 2), Duke (4), Florida State (6) and North Carolina State (8). If you expand out to the top 20, there are seven ACC squads; Clemson, Syracuse and North Carolina join that list.
Of the other four schools in the top 8, there’s one team each from the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12. In the top 10, there are three Big 12 schools: West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
(Also read: Though flawed, Falcons remain undefeated)
Over the weekend, I journeyed to Boston to see FSU take on Boston College in a weird Friday night game – one in which the Seminoles prevailed 14-0. But I can tell you, there was nothing about either of those defenses that should be discredited, and both are certainly among the nation’s best. These statistics are not a fluke.
BC is downright stingy, and through three games – one of which was a top-10 opponent – the Eagles have allowed an average of just 106 yards per game. Next-closest of any team in FBS is NC State, with 188 yards per game.
Of the four ACC teams in the top-8 defensively, NC State is the only team that has yet to face a quality opponent. They have wins over Troy, Eastern Kentucky and Old Dominion. However, ODU currently boasts one of the top running backs in the nation, a kid by the name of Ray Lawry, who went into last week’s game against the Wolfpack averaging 218 yards per game.
NC State’s defense held him to 15 yards on 11 carries. Maybe LSU running back Leonard Fournette would like to try his hand against that defense since he was so bored against Auburn on Saturday.
Then, there’s Duke. It’s hard to know what to make of the Blue Devils after a 19-10 loss at home to nationally-ranked Northwestern, but then again, the Wildcats might end up sniffing the top-10 with lots of winnable games ahead. Even after that tough loss, Duke is only allowing 8.7 points per game, and only three teams have done better than that so far.
This could all change when these teams get into conference play, but it’s a very promising start for a conference that’s traditionally a whipping boy of college football.
Photo: AP/Gerry Broome