Power 5 football players are unlikely to ever be accused of lacking in confidence. Players everywhere like to brag that their position group is the best in the country.

But when it comes to defensive backs, which teams really have the best secondaries? Steven Lassan of Athlon Sports recently ranked the top 25 units in college football and included a pair from the Big Ten in his top five.

  • No. 1: Washington
  • No. 2: Michigan
  • No. 3: Florida
  • No. 4: Clemson
  • No. 5: Ohio State

The top five get the most attention, with summaries explaining the ranking. When the whole list is revealed, three more Big Ten teams are revealed to make the cut.

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  • No. 10: Michigan State
  • No. 15: Penn State
  • No. 24: Wisconsin

So what makes UM’s secondary the best in the conference? Lassan points to last year’s stats and natural improvement based on experience.

“Finding open receivers against Michigan’s secondary was nearly impossible last season,” he writes. “The Wolverines limited passers to a 48.8 completion percentage, allowed just 11 passing scores and surrendered only four plays of 40 yards or more. This unit is likely to be even better in 2018. Cornerbacks David Long and Lavert Hill are more comfortable in their second year as starters. Tyree Kinnel and Josh Metellus had their share of ups and downs in their first season as the primary safeties but will be pushed by Utah transfer Casey Hughes, Brad Hawkins and sophomores J’Marick Woods and Jaylen Kelly-Powell for snaps.”

Meanwhile, at Ohio State, next man up is standard operating procedure.

“It’s an annual tradition in Columbus for the Buckeyes to lose standout defensive backs only to have the next wave of stars ready to step up,” Lassan notes. “Cornerback Denzel Ward and safety Damon Webb depart after guiding the secondary to a No. 13 finish in pass efficiency defense in 2017. Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield are an experienced pair of corners and will be joined by rising star Jeffrey Okudah to give coordinators Greg Schiano and Alex Grinch a talented trio at the position. Jordan Fuller collected 70 tackles and two interceptions in a breakout season at safety last fall. He’s joined by Isaiah Pryor at safety.”

Notes on the other top five units and the full list can be viewed here.