College football stop rate rankings: Michigan-Ohio State is a No. 1 vs. No. 2 defensive clash

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The Game is finally here. Who’s ready to see what two of the best defenses in college football are bringing to a three-plus-hour brawl with everything on the line?

Michigan remains No. 1 in this week’s updated stop rate standings. And Ohio State is still No. 2. On a week in which key offensive players on both sides of this rivalry are battling injuries, we may get the finest defensive duel of this 2022 season on Saturday afternoon.

What is stop rate? It’s a basic measurement of success: the percentage of a defense’s drives that end in punts, turnovers or a turnover on downs. This simple metric can offer a more accurate reflection of a defense’s effectiveness in today’s faster-tempo game than yards per game or points per game. We’ve been tracking this for each of the past five seasons (here are the final standings for 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017) along with every defense’s points per drive average.

The Wolverines have led the nation in stop rate for more than a month under new defensive coordinator Jesse Minter and are getting stops on 83.3 percent of their drives through 11 games. Their College Football Playoff squad had a top-10 defense by this measure a year ago (75.3 percent, good for eighth) and lost some big-time talent to the NFL but only got more efficient when it came to getting stops, cutting their points per drive average from 1.43 to 0.91.

Jim Knowles had the No. 4 defense in stop rate (79.1 percent) at Oklahoma State last season. His Ohio State defense is getting stops at that exact same rate and giving up fewer points per drive (1.19). Sure, Knowles inherited a ton of blue-chip talent with this crew. But his ability to get them playing with more cohesion, consistency and confidence has been impressive. They’ll have a lot to prove against the brutality of Michigan’s O-line and run game.

Which defense has the edge in this showdown? Both are among the FBS leaders at forcing three-and-outs. How many are we actually going to see on Saturday? Michigan’s offense has actually been a little more effective at finishing its drives, scoring on 58 percent of its possessions (No. 3 in the FBS). Ohio State’s offense has been better at reaching the end zone (TDs on 47 percent of drives, also No. 3) and is scoring more points per drive.

Last season in Ann Arbor, the Buckeyes’ defense fell apart in the second half and surrendered touchdowns on all four drives. This year? They’ve allowed a mere 73 points over 71 second-half drives. Michigan has been even better: 62 second-half drives, 62 points. Buckle up for four pressure-packed quarters of physical and tactical excellence from these units.

How are the rest of the defenses across the country performing in stop rate? Here are the full FBS-only stop rate standings through Week 12.

Note: All data is courtesy of TruMedia and Pro Football Focus.

Rank

  

Defense

  

G

  

D

  

Stop Rate

  

Pts/D

  

1

11

126

83.3%

0.91

2

11

143

79%

1.19

3

9

127

78.7%

1.16

4

10

122

77%

1.14

5

10

125

76.8%

1.37

6

10

112

76.8%

1.04

7

11

145

76.6%

1.28

8

10

124

75.8%

1.16

9

10

123

75.6%

1.32

10

10

106

75.5%

1.26

11

10

129

75.2%

1.45

12

10

135

74.8%

1.40

13

11

142

74.6%

1.52

14

10

113

74.3%

1.45

15

9

107

73.8%

1.59

16

10

129

73.6%

1.57

16

9

129

73.6%

1.50

18

10

98

73.5%

1.42

19

11

135

73.3%

1.60

20

10

133

72.9%

1.56

21

10

124

72.6%

1.79

22

10

127

72.4%

1.70

23

10

119

71.4%

1.63

24

10

118

71.2%

1.66

25

10

120

70.8%

1.60

26

10

112

70.5%

1.62

27

11

135

70.4%

1.68

28

10

120

70%

1.73

29

11

143

69.9%

1.68

30

10

119

69.7%

1.81

31

10

122

69.7%

1.64

31

10

122

69.7%

1.72

33

10

115

69.6%

1.66

34

10

133

69.2%

1.71

35

10

113

69%

1.88

36

9

118

68.6%

1.89

37

10

117

68.4%

1.77

38

10

124

67.7%

1.93

39

10

133

67.7%

1.89

40

10

123

67.5%

1.89

41

10

122

67.2%

1.93

42

11

136

66.9%

1.83

43

10

132

66.7%

2.08

43

10

114

66.7%

1.78

43

10

120

66.7%

1.94

43

10

129

66.7%

1.98

43

10

117

66.7%

2.11

43

9

114

66.7%

1.76

49

11

149

66.4%

2.04

50

10

128

66.4%

2.11

51

11

130

66.2%

2.02

52

10

124

66.1%

1.99

53

10

132

65.9%

1.94

54

10

123

65.9%

2.10

54

10

123

65.9%

2.04

56

10

134

65.7%

2.09

57

10

136

65.4%

2.14

58

10

127

65.4%

2.13

59

10

121

65.3%

2.07

60

10

132

65.2%

1.83

61

10

109

65.1%

1.88

62

10

152

65.1%

2.11

63

10

123

65%

2.05

64

11

142

64.8%

2.18

65

10

127

64.6%

2.06

66

10

129

64.3%

2.19

67

11

143

64.3%

1.98

68

10

117

64.1%

2.11

69

11

150

64%

2.14

70

10

130

63.8%

2.12

71

10

124

63.7%

2.25

72

11

122

63.1%

2.37

73

9

103

63.1%

2.33

74

10

119

63%

2.21

74

10

119

63%

2.25

76

10

116

62.9%

2.18

76

10

116

62.9%

2.19

78

11

132

62.9%

2.17

78

11

132

62.9%

2.20

80

11

137

62.8%

2.06

81

10

144

62.5%

2.32

81

11

128

62.5%

2.23

81

10

128

62.5%

2.20

84

10

117

62.4%

2.29

85

10

109

62.4%

2.39

86

11

140

62.1%

2.33

87

10

124

62.1%

2.26

87

10

124

62.1%

2.32

89

10

129

62%

2.08

90

10

121

62%

2.21

91

10

115

61.7%

2.11

92

10

132

61.4%

2.36

93

10

119

61.3%

2.24

94

10

121

61.2%

2.16

95

10

128

60.9%

2.27

96

10

122

60.7%

2.54

97

10

127

60.6%

2.23

98

10

114

60.5%

2.20

99

10

134

60.4%

2.30

100

9

103

60.2%

2.28

101

10

124

59.7%

2.56

101

10

124

59.7%

2.34

103

10

123

59.3%

2.36

104

10

118

59.3%

2.53

105

10

109

58.7%

2.53

106

8

87

58.6%

2.52

107

10

124

58.1%

2.48

108

10

116

57.8%

2.44

109

10

129

57.4%

2.43

110

10

109

56.9%

2.41

111

10

113

56.6%

2.58

112

10

127

55.1%

2.62

113

10

129

55%

2.80

114

9

100

55%

2.54

115

11

131

55%

2.68

115

10

131

55%

2.80

117

10

119

54.6%

2.74

118

9

110

54.5%

2.87

118

10

110

54.5%

2.72

120

10

121

53.7%

2.98

121

10

116

53.4%

2.81

122

10

116

52.6%

2.91

123

10

119

52.1%

2.84

124

10

118

51.7%

2.94

125

11

129

51.2%

2.86

126

10

114

50.9%

2.89

127

10

126

50%

3.02

128

11

127

49.6%

3.13

129

10

115

49.6%

3.03

130

11

133

47.4%

3.41

131

10

120

44.2%

3.43

(Photo: Rick Osentoski / USA Today)

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