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Oregon Ducks Football will face the best defensive lines in college football in the Big Ten

The Oregon Ducks will face off against several Big Ten Conference teams that claim to have some of the most talented defensive players in all of college football. Those games could be instant classics given the combination of a high-powered Duck offense against the Big Ten’s best.

The importance of winning the battle in the trenches is not lost on Oregon coach Dan Lanning. He shared his thoughts on the defensive line play after the Ducks’ Spring Game earlier this year.

“I have to go back and watch the movie and see exactly what it was like. There were definitely some advantageous matchups, but there are some guys that can definitely play for us,” Lanning said. “If you want to win football games, you have to win it up front on both sides of the ball. I’m excited about the guys we have in that group. There are some young guys that I expect to step up and play a bigger role than last year, but there is also a group on both sides that we can continue to develop.”

Oregon’s defensive line is also one of the most formidable in the country. On a list from PFF, Oregon landed at No. 10, while three of the Ducks’ Big Ten foes also made the list of the top ten defensive lines (full list at bottom).

Oregon Ducks defensive end Jordan Burch (1) celebrates after a sack during the first half against the Colorado Buffaloes

September 23, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks defensive end Jordan Burch (1) celebrates after a sack during the first half against the Colorado Buffaloes at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports / Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10. Oregon ducks

This is the fourth Big Ten school to make the list. Coach Lanning and his coaches have worked tirelessly to build a roster of athletes that are bigger, faster and can compete in the Big Ten. Suffice to say, their efforts have paid off. The Ducks’ starters on the perimeter and interior line weigh at least 270 pounds and the average weight is more than 300 pounds. The fact that this group of four is excellent against the run is not surprising, as they all posted run defense grades above 70, with three above 75.

The lone returning d-line starter for Oregon is edge defender Jordan Burch. He is tasked with mentoring Matayo Uiagalelei, a former top-40 recruit who played more than 300 snaps as a true freshman. The Ducks are known for their success in acquiring talent through the transfer portal and that extends to the defensive side of the ball. Derrick Harmon (Michigan State) and Jamaree Caldwell (Houston) appear to be important contributors in the coming season. Harmon ranked fourth among Big Ten defensive tackles, while Caldwell was fourth in the Big 12.

No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State is the third Big Ten school on this list. The bad news is the loss of two edge defenders, Chop Robinson and Adisa Isaac, to the NFL Draft. The good news for Nittany Lions fans is that they have two highly rated athletes ready to step up and fill the void. Abdul Carter had an excellent 2023 season as an off-ball linebacker and will transition to an edge defender next season. His athleticism is off the charts, as evidenced by his pass-rush winning percentage of 24.1, which led all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) linebackers. That same percentage would have ranked him third among edge defenders. Dani Dennis-Sutton was ranked fourth and brings all the talent of a former five-star recruit. Penn State will also benefit from returning its top four interior linemen, all of whom ranked well in the PFF rankings.

Despite the Big Ten Conference connection, the Ducks will not play Penn State this year.

No. 2 Michigan Glutton

Some may think Michigan will have a hard time repeating as national champions, but don’t tell that to the Wolverines’ defensive line. They still claim the best defensive tackle despite losing Kris Jenkins to the NFL. Replacing Jenkins is Mason Graham, touted as the best defensive lineman in the country. He is joined by Kenneth Grant, who ranks among the top 15 tackles in the Power Five.

The Ducks and Wolverines meet on Nov. 2 in Ann Arbor. This game will almost certainly have Big Ten championship and playoff implications, and the defensive lines for both schools will look to dominate the battle at the line of scrimmage.

No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes

The good news in Columbus is that three defensive linemen opted to spend their senior years in school rather than enter the NFL draft. Edge defenders Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau join linemen Tyleik Williams and Ty Hamilton in a defense that should play a crucial role in the Buckeyes’ pursuit of a Big Ten championship and a spot in the playoffs. college football.

The Ducks will get to see this team firsthand when they host Ohio State at Autzen Stadium on October 12.

Full list below:

1. Ohio State

2. Michigan

3. Miami

4. Georgia

5. Ole ma’am

6. Notre Dame

7. Penn State

8.Texas

9.Clemson

10. Oregon

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