Predicting the Top Defensive Lines in Each Conference for the 2021 College Football Season

Stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback are two of the essential things a college football team can do, so it’s no surprise that the teams with the most potent defensive lines tend to win their conferences.

We wanted to make sure to show some love to more than just the occasional Group of Five squads, so instead of ranking the 10 top (insert position group)s in the country, we wanted to make sure to show some love to more than just the occasional Group of Five teams. As a result, we’ll look at the various position groupings for the 2021 season conference by conference.

Within each conference, we’ll emphasize which team should be the best at that position, identify the team most likely to challenge for the crown, and suggest another team to keep an eye on. That third “Keep an Eye on” club isn’t necessarily projected to finish third in the conference, but it’s a fascinating squad for the author’s reasons.

Within each conference, we’ll emphasize which team should be the best at that position, identify the team most likely to challenge for the crown, and suggest another team to keep an eye on. That third “Keep an Eye on” club isn’t necessarily projected to finish third in the conference, but it’s a fascinating squad for the author’s reasons.

The conferences are organized alphabetically.
The Best of the Group: Bearcats of Cincinnati, That is the surest prediction site you can think of.

For the past several years, Cincinnati has had the most OK front seven in the AAC, and in 2021, it should have one of the top five defensive lines in the country.

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Myjai Sanders, Curtis Brooks, Malik Vann, and Marcus Brown recorded at least 2.0 sacks last season and will be back as fourth- or fifth-year players this year. Sanders’ choice to delay to the NFL for another season was crucial for the Bearcats. In 2020, their premier edge-rusher had seven sacks and five pass breakups. Sanders is in a tough spot now that Tulane’s Patrick Johnson is in the NFL.

Last season, Myjai Sanders, Curtis Brooks, Malik Vann, and Marcus Brown all had at least 2.0 sacks and will return as fourth- or fifth-year players this season. For the Bearcats, Sanders’ decision to return to the NFL for another season was critical. Their top edge-rusher has seven sacks and five pass breakups in 2020. Now that Tulane’s Patrick Johnson is in the NFL, Sanders is in a tight situation.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane is the top challenger.

Tulsa’s defence was led by Zaven Collins, a standout linebacker and the 16th overall selection in the 2021 NFL draft. He’s the most gifted player this program has ever produced, and replacing him will be a near-impossible task.

The main contender is the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

Zaven Collins, a talented linebacker and the 16th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, spearheaded Tulsa’s defence. He’s the most talented player this program has ever produced, and replacing him will be difficult.

Keep an eye on UCF Knights Auburn has had nine defensive linemen taken in the last nine NFL drafts, and UCF head coach Gus Malzahn is trying to bring some of that magic to his new job. With three returning linemen (Tre’Mon Morris-Brash, Landon Woodson, and Cam Goode) who each produced at least 3.0 sacks last season, the pass rush should be strong, but we’ll have to wait and see whether the run defence improves.

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Auburn has had nine defensive linemen selected in the previous nine NFL drafts, and UCF head coach Gus Malzahn is hoping to bring some of that magic to his new position. The pass rush should be strong with three returning linemen (Tre’Mon Morris-Brash, Landon Woodson, and Cam Goode) who each had at least 3.0 sacks last season, but we’ll have to wait and see how the run defence performs.

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