Texas football’s 1979 defense ranked among best in CFB history

Fred Akers, Texas Football (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Fred Akers, Texas Football (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Texas football has one of the most illustrious program traditions and history throughout the college football landscape. Between the program’s four national championships, 928 wins, and 30 conference championships (among many other accomplishments and accolades), Texas clearly has a proud tradition and track record of success throughout its history.

And one of the better points in the program’s history for the Longhorns, at least on the defensive side of the ball, was highlighted in a recent ranking by ESPN’s Bill Connelly this week (insider content). Connelly ranked out the 50 best defenses in college football history this week, which included one year for the Longhorns.

The particular Longhorns defense that was included among the 50 best in college football history was the 1979 squad under head coach Fred Akers. And this 1979 Texas defense rang in at No. 33 on the list.

That 1979 Texas defense for Akers and the Longhorns was extraordinarily stout in almost every regard. Texas allowed just 8.7 points per game during the 1979 season (good for second in the nation), largely thanks to two shutouts that this defense pitched that year.

It’s ultra-impressive that Texas was able to shut out two top-five ranked teams in the country in 1979. Texas completely shut down the No. 5 Mizzou Tigers and No. 17 Baylor Bears in the two shutouts the defense pitched that season.

Fred Akers’ 1979 Texas football defense cracks top 35 in college football history

Moreover, Texas also had the second-best scoring defense in the country in 1979 along with the second-best in terms of the defensive simple rating system. The only defense that Texas ranked behind in these three metrics in 1979 was the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Ironically, that 1979 Alabama defense actually ranked one spot higher on this list from Connelly and ESPN.

During the 1979 season, both Texas and Alabama were carried by their respective defenses. Alabama did have the better offense of these two teams, which is why the Crimson Tide wound up winning the national title for that season.

Yet, it just goes to show how dominant the Texas defense was in 1979 that this team was able to finish 12th in the AP Poll with an offense that put up less than 19 points per game. In fact, Texas put up just 18.7 points per game in 1979, ranking 80th in the country.

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When looking at the numbers and the course of the 1979 season, it’s easy to see how Akers and the Longhorns managed to get a spot on this list as one of the best defenses in college football history. Akers was known for his defense throughout his roughly decade-long tenure as Texas’ head coach. And none of the defenses he coached up at Texas was better than the one in 1979.