Vols have top-5 defense

The 12 Southeastern Conference teams may not play the best football in America this fall but they will play the best defense in America this fall. So say the experts at collegefootballnews.com.

The popular website suggests that five of the top 11 defenses in the NCAA reside in the SEC – Alabama (No. 3), Tennessee (No. 4), Auburn (No. 6), LSU (No. 7) and Georgia (No. 11). Florida is No. 20, followed by South Carolina (27), Ole Miss (36), Mississippi State (58), Kentucky (68), Arkansas (69) and Vanderbilt (78).

Based on CFN.com's ratings, Tennessee should put up lots of points on its three non-conference foes this fall. Notre Dame's defense is ranked No. 70, Memphis' No. 84 and Alabama Birmingham's No. 85.

Here's how CFN.com explains its No. 4 ranking of Tennessee's stop unit:

"Eight starters (and that doesn't include LB Kevin Simon) return to a defense that will be among the best in America. If Simon's injured knee is fine, the front seven will finish among the top five in the country and will be one of the leaders in sacks and quarterback hurries. The secondary finished last in the SEC last year, but there will be a big turnaround with the freshmen starters of last year now seasoned veterans. The cornerbacks will be outstanding with former safety Jason Allen a sure Thorpe Award candidate."

CFN.com also ranks all of the NCAA's defenses by unit. Tennessee's defensive line is ranked No. 3 nationally. The Vol linebacking corps is rated No. 11 and the secondary No. 15.

Here's the top five by unit:

DEFENSIVE LINE: 1. North Carolina State, 2. Auburn, 3. Tennessee, 4. Purdue, 5. Texas

LINEBACKER: 1. Ohio State, 2, Florida State, 3,. Miami, 4. Iowa, 5. UCLA

SECONDARY: 1. Miami, 2. Penn State, 3. Alabama, 4. South Carolina, 5. Missouri

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