“That's an elite performance on both sides of the ball when we're looking at only those kinds of possessions,” Fremeau said.
The second adjustment is removing “garbage time,” or the period of the game when the outcome has essentially been decided and the starters are no longer playing.
This also applies to OSU, which has an average margin of victory of 25.4 points and has allowed just 80 offensive points in the first half through 10 games.
“There are individual defensive performances that when we remove those garbage possessions, Oklahoma State has performed essentially as good as anybody,” Fremeau said.
The final adjustment is for strength of schedule, which takes into account the efficiency of the offenses faced.
According to Fremeau's rankings, the Cowboy defense has played the 15th-toughest set of offenses this season. Alabama, conversely, has faced the 92nd-best slate.
“That makes Oklahoma State really vault up my rankings,” Fremeau said.
Fremeau said the one area that the OSU defense lacks in is that the Cowboys force three-and-out on only 30 percent of opponents' possessions. But he also noted that some defenses are built on the “bend-but-don't-break” philosophy.
“They might not be getting people off the field immediately like some of the other elite defenses are doing,” Fremeau said. “But they're still effective in keeping people off the scoreboard, which is, at the end of the day, the No. 1 thing.”
Fremeau does not claim to have the perfect system. But he uses Auburn as an example that his rankings are effective.
Last year's national champions ranked 60th in the nation in total defense but sixth in the FEI rankings, a position Fremeau felt was justified when the Tigers slowed down Oregon's potent offense in the national title game.
Fremeau puts OSU in the same category.
“I don't put blind faith into (the rankings),” he said. “But it's backed up when there are performances like this past weekend when you see them holding down Texas Tech, a team that was able to kind of run wild a bit a couple times this season, including against some other good Big 12 teams.”