Better D: South Carolina or LSU?

In a rare matchup of dominant front fours, which team has defensive edge?

Updated: October 11, 2012, 12:27 PM ET
By Rod Gilmore | ESPN Insider
Jadeveon Clowney and Sam Montgomery US PresswireJadeveon Clowney and Sam Montgomery both project to be first-round NFL draft picks.

Remember those great heavyweight prizefights between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, and Ali and George Foreman? We can't seem to find heavyweight fights like that anymore. They've become extinct.

You know what else is almost extinct? The great front four defensive lines. Deacon Jones and Merlin Olsen of the Fearsome Foursome. Mean Joe Greene and LC Greenwood of the Steel Curtain. They were big, bad guys who got after the quarterback. There aren't enough of those dominant big guys out there anymore, which is one reason why so many teams use the 3-4.

But when the South Carolina Gamecocks meet the LSU Tigers on Saturday night, college football fans will witness something nearly as rare as Halley's Comet: two great front fours on the same field at the same time.

The story of the college football season so far (as it often is in the first half of seasons) has been the huge offensive numbers being put up around the country. But championship-caliber defense, not offense, will become more and more important as we enter the season's stretch run, which is why both South Carolina and LSU remain in the SEC and national title conversation (although LSU will have to win this week to keep its championship hopes alive).

What is it that makes these two units so good? And which one do I think has the edge this weekend and going forward? Let's take a look.

Rod Gilmore

College Football analyst
Rod Gilmore serves as an ESPN studio analyst on SportsCenter and College Football Live, and provides commentary on ESPN's Friday night game telecasts. He writes regularly for ESPN Insider.