CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Dorian O'Daniel, right, and Ryan Carter were instrumental with a top-35 ranked defense all-time in 2017 according to ESPN (34).
Dorian O'Daniel, right, and Ryan Carter were instrumental with a top-35 ranked defense all-time in 2017 according to ESPN (34).

ESPN ranks Clemson defense season in top-35 all-time


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ESPN ranked the 50 best defenses in college football history and the Tigers landed one in the top-35 ($).

In Brent Venables' successful run, it was the 2017 Tiger defense that made the list at No. 34 overall.

"Clemson won national titles in 2016 and 2018, but in between came a transition season," ESPN's Bill Connelly said. "The offense stumbled, but the Tigers still reached the College Football Playoff because of Brent Venables' ridiculous defense, which peaked late, giving up 214 yards and three points to No. 7 Miami in the ACC championship game and 261 yards and 17 (offensive) points to eventual national champ Alabama in the CFP."

That unit finished second in scoring defense (13.6 PPG) and fourth in yards allowed (276.7 YPG) with a No. 5 rank in pass efficiency allowed (106.85 rating) and a No. 12 spot in rushing defense (114.9 YPG).

Dorian O'Daniel led the group with 104 tackles (11.5 for loss) and two interceptions, with Clelin Ferrell notching 9.5 sacks and 18 TFLs and Trayvon Mullen and Ryan Carter each grabbing three interceptions. Carter also had 10 pass breakups.

Ferrell (12), Austin Bryant (12), Christian Wilkins (11) and Kendall Joseph (10) each tabulated double-digit QB pressures as well.

Clemson faced the top-2 on the ESPN list with a national championship over the No. 2-ranked team with 2016 Alabama and falling to the list's No. 1 in 2017 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

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