Sports

Defense keys Big Ten leaders Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin

  • Wisconsin's Darius Hillary (5) breaks up a pass intended for Brigham Young's Cody Hoffman during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

    Wisconsin's Darius Hillary (5) breaks up a pass intended for Brigham Young's Cody Hoffman during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)  (The Associated Press)

  • Purdue running back Brandon Cottom, top, is tackled by Iowa defensive lineman Louis Trinca-Pasat during the first half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

    Purdue running back Brandon Cottom, top, is tackled by Iowa defensive lineman Louis Trinca-Pasat during the first half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)  (The Associated Press)

In the Big Ten this season, title contention is still driven by defense.

It's no coincidence that the three best teams in the league — No. 3 Ohio State, No. 14 Michigan State and No. 17 Wisconsin — have the top three defenses and rank in the top 10 nationally in points allowed per game.

The Legends Division-leading Spartans lead the nation in pass efficiency and rush defense. Wisconsin is fifth in scoring defense and the unbeaten Buckeyes are eighth at 17 points a game.