After kicking off ESPN's college football Future Power Rankings with quarterbacks, the series switches to the other side of the ball with the defenses.
Georgia and other recent national champions will appear below, but so will several teams that have yet to reach the College Football Playoff and might struggle to ever take that leap. Iowa, for example, has become a mainstay on this list because of a historically opportunistic defense (offsetting a historically inept offense), but the Hawkeyes' best CFP finish was No. 5 in 2015. Programs such as Utah, NC State and San Diego State have risen in their respective conferences because of their strength on defense.
Some elite defenses have shown impressive staying power despite change. Georgia and Michigan both finished in the top seven in fewest points allowed last season, after going through significant changes both with personnel and coaches. Other units rose in 2022, such as Illinois and Troy, and now must maintain the trajectory without some key players.
The biggest challenge here was assessing the lost production for perennial top defenses and how much, if at all, they will fall off.
As a reminder, these rankings cover the top 25 defenses during the next three seasons -- 2023, 2024 and 2025 -- and examine both current rosters and future recruiting. Coaching and consistency also factor into which teams make the cut.
Here's a look at last year's Future Power Rankings for defense. Now, for the latest rundown.