By Jeff Cavanaugh
The Penn State defense has been absolutely lights out this season – boasting the nation’s toughest run defense and ranking 3rd in the country in total defense and 4th in scoring defense.
Just how good have the Nittany Lions been on defense? Consider that Penn State hasn't allowed fewer rushing yards since the legendary 1986 National Championship season and the Nittany Lions haven't allowed less yardage since the 1978 (way before all of the pro-offense rule changes and pass-happy offensive coordinators).
And it seems that every great Penn State defense is always led by an extraordinary linebacker – hence the name, Linebacker U. The undefeated 1968 and 1969 teams were led by All-American Dennis Onkotz and future NFL hall of famer Jack Ham; in the mid 70s, linebacker Greg Buttle had over 300 tackles in two seasons (both seasons rank in the top four in Penn State history for tackles in a season). Perhaps the greatest Penn State defense was led by two-time All American Shane Conlan – who led the Nittany Lions to the 1986 National Championship. The 1990s were highlighted by Butkus and Bednarik award winner Lavar Arrington and his still-awe-inspiring “Lavar Leap.” Then in the past decade, the Linebacker U tradition was even further solidified with All American teammates and the top two tacklers in Penn State history Dan Connor and Paul Posluszny – who Jack Ham gave the distinction of the best Penn State linebacker of all time.
Read more: PSU Defense having a ‘Hull’ of a Season