ESPN recently ranked the top 50 college football defenses of all time and a Tennessee Vols defense — from way back in the day — made the list.

The Vols’ 1939 defense, which was coached by the legendary Robert Neyland, came in at No. 6 in ESPN’s rankings.

Here’s what they had to say:

No. 8 Alabama lost 21-0. No. 18 LSU lost 20-0. Two other solid, late-season opponents (Kentucky and Auburn) lost by a combined 26-0. Through 10 regular-season games, Neyland’s best Tennessee defense didn’t allow a single point. All of his seven pillars — the team with the fewest mistakes wins, play for and make the breaks (and when one comes your way, score), carry the fight to your opponent for 60 minutes and so on — were on perfect display, and All-Americans Ed Molinski, George Cafego and Bob Suffridge made sure the effort was matched with raw talent.

The perfect record fell when No. 3 USC beat the Vols 14-0 — with a touchdown coming in the final minute of each half — in the Rose Bowl. But the scoreless regular season built a lasting reputation.

I obviously wasn’t around in 1939 so I have no first-hand knowledge of how incredible Tennessee’s defense was that season.

But all you have to do is take a look at the results and you’ll quickly understand why the 1939 Vols made the top six.

Tennessee didn’t allow a single point during the regular season. 10 games in a row where opponents scored zero points (actually 15 games in a row allowing zero points if you go back to the 1938 season). I don’t care what era of football it was, that’s a completely insane stat that’s hard to even comprehend.

The USC team that beat the Vols (and snapped Tennessee’s 23-game winning streak) scored zero points in a 0-0 tie against UCLA the game before they played UT.

College football has always been unpredictable — even back in 1939.

By the way, the 2017 Alabama Crimson Tide were listed as the No. 1 defense of all time. Alabama only shut out two teams in 2017 — Vanderbilt and Mercer — while also giving up 23 points to Colorado State.

I’d say that’s a solid case of recency bias.

Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports