June 8, 2023

Great Indian Mutiny

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Collegiate Football Rankings SP+ after Week 2

Collegiate Football Rankings SP+ after Week 2

Speech almost never changes. Each week, when I put in updated SP+ ratings, I say that SP+ “is intended to be predictive and forward-looking. It’s not a CV ranking that takes credit for big wins or particularly brave scheduling – there is no good predictive system. It is simply a metric The most sustainable and predictable aspect of football. If you are lucky or unimpressive in winning, your rating will likely drop. If you are strong and unlucky to lose, you will probably go up.”

Note the slash. Week 2 of the 2022 season gave us some of the best possible examples of how this segment works.

Alabama beat Texas 20-19 with a field goal in the last second after an equal statistical game. Texas State was hardly bothered by the fluctuating fortunes and the brutality of the special teams. The Longhorns almost won by just lining up and beating the top seed Crimson Tide. Thus, despite the fact that Bama survived, Alabama’s SP+ rating fell by 4.5 points in a win while Texas rose by 1.4 in a loss. Tide now ranks second overall, behind Georgia, while Horns jumped from 18th to 16th.

We have another example in Conway, South Carolina. Coastal Carolina moved 2-0 this season by defeating FCS opponent Gardner-Webb 31-27. Again, it wasn’t a series of horrific rebounds that kept the GWU close—in fact, GWU was the statistically superior team, gaining 495 yards (7.5 per game) versus Coastal’s 354 (5.3). The Chanticleers recovered four of the game’s five fouls, which saved the situation, but that’s not a sustainable recipe. So, despite the win, the SP+ rating dropped a whopping 5.8 points, the biggest drop of the week. They were 65th and now they are 80th.

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There were a lot of other movements during the second week wacky. Check out the new rankings below.

What is SP +? In one sentence, it’s a tempo-adjusted measure of college football efficiency. I created the system at Football Outsiders in 2008, and as my experience with college football and its stats grew, I made some tweaks to the system.

(Note: Special teams still don’t carry much weight at the start of the season. Which is why the range between good and bad is almost non-existent this week.)