Gilmore: Ranking the Top 10 defenses

December, 18, 2012
12/18/12
5:00
PM ET
There is no debate about this: Florida State had one of the best defenses in the nation this season.

But where would the Seminoles rank in the Top 10? ESPN analyst Rod Gilmore unveiled his own Top 10 list Insider and has the Seminoles at No. 5, behind Florida, Alabama, Notre Dame and Stanford.

Here is how those five schools stack up in the NCAA rankings for total defense:
  • No. 1 Alabama
  • No. 2 Florida State
  • No. 5 Florida
  • No. 6 Notre Dame
  • No. 21 Stanford

Here is how they rank in the NCAA stats for scoring defense:
  • No. 1 Notre Dame
  • No. 2 Alabama
  • No. 3 Florida
  • No. 7 Florida State
  • No. 14 Stanford

Comparing defenses is all very subjective, considering the quality of opponent is different for these teams. I don't have much of a quibble with Florida, Alabama and Notre Dame being ranked ahead of Florida State. The Gators are 11-1 and in the Sugar Bowl based on the strength of their defense. EJ Manuel did have his worst performance of the season in a loss to Florida.

The Irish have a terrific front seven -- and only one opponent scored more than 20 points on 'em all year. Alabama is strong all over the place, and in the national title game.

But if I were doing my own rankings, I would not have Stanford in the Top 5. Florida State had one of the best defensive duos in the nation with Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine. Werner is a unanimous All-American selection this year. And as Gilmore writes, "the Seminoles have arguably the best secondary in the nation."

Stanford was quite impressive this season, too. I watched every snap of the Cardinal's win over Oregon. That group is as tough and physical as they come, playing an East Coast brand of defense in the more high-flying Pac-12. But overall, I think Florida State was better, and at least worthy of a higher spot in the rankings.

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