A number of LSU teams make ESPN’s list of all time college football defenses

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LSU has always played a tough and physical brand of football.

The Tigers have put countless defensive stars into the NFL, earning the moniker “DBU” in the process. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that when running down the best defenses in the history of the sport, several LSU teams come to mind.

ESPN’s Bill Connelly recently put out his list of the 50 best defenses in the history of college football, and five Tigers units made the cut. The choices span decades, with teams from many eras represented. Here’s a breakdown of where each stands and Connelly’s logic behind each choice.

No. 50 - 2003

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Head coach: Nick Saban
Scoring defense: 11.0 points per game
Record: 13-1 (No. 2 in the AP poll, No. 1 in BCS)

Led by a pair of All-Americans in defensive tackle Chad Lavalais and cornerback Corey Webster, the Tigers won a share of their first national title in nearly 50 years — and Saban won his first title ever — thanks to a defense that allowed more than 14 points just twice and held a prolific Oklahoma attack to just 14 in the Sugar Bowl.

No. 39 - 2016

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach: Les Miles for four games, Ed Orgeron for eight
Scoring defense: 15.8
Record: 8-4

Accounting for strength of schedule is also kind to this team, which played for Orgeron as interim coach most of the season, faced five ranked opponents in its final six games and somehow allowed more than 16 points to just one of them. In retrospect, having Tre’Davious White and Jamal Adams in the same secondary was downright unfair. So was a defense this good going just 8-4.

No. 21 - 1962

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach: Charles McClendon
Scoring defense: 3.1 PPG
Record: 9-1-1 (seventh in the AP poll)

Before becoming one of the best NFL defensive backs of the late 1960s, Jerry Stovall nearly won the Heisman Trophy with his work at the back of this ridiculous defense. The Tigers gave up 15 points to a great (and eventually unbeaten) Ole Miss team, but they allowed just 19 points in 10 other games and held two other top-five opponents (Georgia Tech and Texas) to seven combined.

No. 8 - 2011 (Tied with Alabama)

Montgomery Advertiser, Mickey Welsh

Head coaches: Les Miles and Nick Saban, respectively
Scoring defense: 11.3 and 8.2 PPG
Record: 13-1 and 12-1 (second and first in the AP poll)

Here’s the deal about the famous 2011 LSU-Bama 9-6 game: It was fantastic! As someone who saw every 2015 Missouri game, I know what a bad 9-6 game looks like. I can say, without question, that LSU-Bama was great.

LSU’s receiving corps had Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham Jr. and Russell Shepard; Alabama had Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy in the backfield and a perfectly solid AJ McCarron behind center. There was talent, and there were plenty of moments of strong offensive play.

The problem is that these offenses were playing against two of the best defenses of the 21st century. LSU had one of the prime candidates for Best Secondary Ever with Morris ClaiborneEric Reid, Brandon Taylor and, of course, Heisman finalist and “Honey Badger” Tyrann Mathieu. Alabama had an absurd linebacking corps of Dont’a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Nico Johnson and C.J. Mosley.

LSU allowed more than 21 points only once (to a brilliant Oregon offense in the season opener), and Alabama allowed more than 14 points only to, of all teams, Georgia Southern of the FCS. The spread offense was beginning to take over college football, but the two most talented teams on the planet played some of the best defense we’ve ever seen.

No. 4 - 1959 (Tied with Ole Miss)

AP Photo/File

Head coach: Paul Dietzel and John Vaught, respectively
Scoring defense: 4.5 and 1.9 PPG
Record: 9-2 and 10-1 (third and second in the AP poll)

Here are the three touchdowns Ole Miss allowed in 1959:

1. In the fifth game of the season, Tulane became the first team to score on the Rebels after recovering a fumble near midfield, punting, then recovering another fumble at the Ole Miss 5.

2. Ninth-ranked Tennessee blocked a quick kick, recovered it at the Ole Miss 7 and scored from there.

3. LSU’s Billy Cannon housed maybe the greatest punt return of all time.

That’s it. The Rebels didn’t allow a touchdown drive of more than 7 yards all season. They were almost perfect, and Cannon’s punt return — plus the blown scoring opportunities that contributed to a 7-3 loss to LSU — were the only things that kept them from a perfect season.

Somehow, LSU’s defense was only slightly inferior. Before they got thumped 21-0 by Ole Miss in a Sugar Bowl rematch, the Tigers had allowed three touchdowns: on a Tulane punt return, a Tennessee pick-six and a 29-yard Tennessee touchdown drive after a fumble.

If the Ole Miss and LSU offenses didn’t do you a favor, the Ole Miss and LSU defenses weren’t going to let you score. Even in a defense-heavy era, the Rebels and Tigers were incredible.

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire