12 Pac: Ranking the Pac-12's Defenses in 2013

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford's defense just continues to dominate.

1. Stanford

The Cardinal were overflowing with talent and experience on defense this season and it really showed as they were near the top of the nation in a ton of defensive categories. Not only did the Cardinal defense shut teams down, but they also regularly intimidated them and knocked key players out of games.

2. USC

USC's defense reemerged under Ed Orgeron and played up to their overly talented abilities, especially up front. The Trojans were just plain nasty up front and featured a guy in Leonard Williams who arguably was the best defensive linemen in the entire conference as a true sophomore.

3. Arizona State

The Sun Devils may not be overly impressive from a purely statistical standpoint, but they had a defense, that when on, could be just as devastating as Stanford's. Their front seven, led by Will Sutton, could really make things impossible for opposing quarterbacks and running backs at times in 2013.

4. Oregon

The defense may have gotten worse as the season went on, but the Ducks' defense overall was once again underrated, though not as much as usual. They struggled a bit in stopping the run late in the season, but the Ducks could still get after passers and make interceptions when needed.

5. UCLA

Young, but super talented, the Bruins defensive unit has a bright future. This season was all about Anthony Barr though, as he showed why he will be a Top 5 draft pick in April as he had a huge impact all season while being triple teamed.

6. Washington

The Huskies were once again improved on defense under Justin Wilcox, as they did a much better job of getting after the passer and stuffing the run along with competing with up-tempo offenses. The unit still had some holes in places, but overall, was solid.

7. Arizona

One of the most surprising units in the conference this season, I think most thought that Wildcats would struggle to stop pretty much everyone on defense, but actually statistically were pretty strong. Linebackers Marquis Flowers, Jake Fischer and Scooby Wright really stepped up.

8. Utah

This unit was much better at home than on the road, but regardless had some great moments. Still, the Utes' defense didn't win them enough games, and was suspect against the pass against good quarterbacks and receivers.

9. Washington State

The Cougar defense looked much improved early in the season, but seemed to lose a bit of steamer as the season wound down. They showed some ability up front early on, but later struggled to stop the run and regularly got beat over the top.

10. Oregon State

The Beavers struggled to stop teams all season and were incredibly weak up front as teams gashed them on the ground all season, especially up the middle. Mike Riley is known for getting the most out of his defensive units, but this was not one of those years.

11. Colorado

The Buffs were improved across the board, but still simply gave up far too many points on defense in 2013.

12. Cal

The Bears suffered about as many injuries on defense as I can ever remember a Pac-12 team suffering, but just how bad they ended up being on defense was still astounding as they were second-to-last in the entire nation in total defense.


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