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The SP + college football rankings after week 4 – SEC games, Pac-12 comeback has rocked things



The combination of a couple of earth-shattering upheavals and the SEC’s presence at the party made week 4 of college football season the first true college football weekend of the year. And there has been a fair amount of fallout in the latest SP + rankings.

Below is this week’s hot batch of SP +. Like last week, I now include the latest FBS teams that committed to playing this fall – Pac-12, MAC and MWC all announced plans to jump into the pool last week – though none of them will. play for a few more weeks. This means we continue our streak of a new denominator each week: all 130 FBS teams have been included in the pre-season standings, so 77 after week 2, 91 after week 3, and now 1

26 after week 4. Nothing fancy this season is normal, but in theory we could stay at 126 for a while.

What is SP +? In a single sentence, it’s a measure of college football’s efficiency regulated by time and opponent. I created the system at Football Outsiders in 2008, and as my experience with both college football and its stats has grown, I’ve made some changes to the system.

SP + is designed to be predictive and forward facing. This is important to remember. It’s not a resume ranking that credits big wins or particularly bold planning – no good predictive system is. It is simply a measure of the more sustainable and predictable aspects of football. If you are lucky or insignificant in a win, your rating will likely drop. If you are strong and unlucky in a loss, it will likely increase.

Here are the full numbers.

The engines this week

Going up

Looking at where teams would have been ranked last week if Pac-12, MWC and MAC teams were included (so you can compare apples to apples), and comparing them to this week’s rankings, seven teams have gone up by at least 10 positions:

  • State of Kansas: Up 21 places from 75th to 54th place

  • Virginia Tech: up to 17 positions from 34th to 17th

  • Texas State: Up to 14 positions from 118th to 104th

  • State of Mississippi: Up to 13 locations from 51st to 38th

  • Georgia Southern: Climb 12 places from 108th to 96th

  • Virginia: gained 10 positions from 43rd to 33rd

  • Tulane: He gained 10 positions from 71st to 61st position

Sometimes we find ourselves with fluky upsets in college football: the ball is pointy, the players are young, and unlikely things happen. However, neither the KSU nor the MSU upheavals had a major stroke of luck.

Using my post-match probability of win metric, where I take all the key predictive stats for a given game, toss them in the air and say, “With these stats, you could have expected to win this game X% of the time. Kansas State’s 38-35 victory over Oklahoma came with a 40% chance, while Mississippi State’s 44-34 overturning of reigning national champion LSU was 95%. Scores mainly reflected statistics, and in the LSU’s case, the 10-point loss was kind to the Tigers. KSU and MSU therefore increased in ratings accordingly.

Virginia Tech grew further than MSU, however, thanks to a truly dominant performance against NC State. SP + expected the Hokies to win by nearly two touchdowns, and not only did they win by 21, but it could have been a lot worse. They averaged 9.6 yards per game against Wolfpack’s 4.2 in the first half and let their foot off the gas in the second.

Biggest fall

Seven teams have dropped at least eight places from where they would have been ranked last week.

  • Troy: down 20 places from 60th to 80th

  • Kentucky: down 19 places from 24th to 43rd

  • LSU: down 13 positions from 12th to 25th

  • Pitt: down 11 places from 25th to 36th

  • Army: down nine places from 63rd to 72nd

  • Florida State: down nine places from 48th to 57th

  • South Alabama: Down eight places from 109th to 117th

Kentucky’s 29-13 defeat to Auburn ended as a draw: Kentucky committed a couple of devastating turnovers that allowed Auburn to take the lead before the Tigers attacked him later. However, SP + hasn’t necessarily seen disaster. Auburn’s success rate was 10 percentage points higher than the UK’s (47% to 37%) and the Tigers performed a million times better in the red zone. AU’s post-match win expectation has reached 98%.

The most striking name on this list may be Pitt. The Panthers went 3-0 with a 23-20 win over Louisville, but their post-match expectation of victory was only 32%; their defense was excellent as ever, but the attack was ineffective, especially in the red zone. They needed a bit of luck in the business to cross the finish line, and they dropped a bit in the rankings. (Taking 11 points out for this sounds tough, but notice how clustered the teams are in that range – that’s just 1.9 adjusted points per game outside the top 30.)

While the SEC runs

The SEC offered some surprising results in its return to action. SP + isn’t designed to react much to a team’s first game of the season, but there was still a fair amount of movement, up and down. See the LSU and MSU movement above, but here’s how the other teams fared.

  • Alabama dropped one spot, from second to third, after an easy win over Missouri. This probably won’t make Tide fans happy, but the top three are still comfortably in front of the pitch. Missouri, meanwhile, went from 47th to 48th.

  • Despite a terrible start to the match, Georgia ultimately performed as expected against Arkansas. The Dawgs’ offense has rightfully dropped from 37th to 50th, but with many other defenses struggling, their D at the top of the standings allowed them to remain fourth overall. Arkansas also remained more or less the same, sliding from 73rd to 75th.

  • If Kentucky fell by a decent amount, you’d probably expect a similar increase from Auburn. You would be right! The Tigers moved up from eleventh to fifth after a comfortable win over what was designed as one of the top 25 teams.

  • Florida never allowed Ole Miss to stay mashed potato closes in the 51-35 win on Saturday, but the Gators slip from fifth to eighth as their defense has slipped from third to 17 ° after conceding 613 yards and 7.9 yards per game. However, we may find that Ole Miss’s offense is elite or close to it, however, and should that be the case, SP + will adjust Florida’s defensive ratings accordingly. (Ole Miss also slipped a bit, from 37th to 44th. SP + doesn’t like points, it seems.)

  • Texas A&M outpaced Vanderbilt by three yards per game and maintained a 42% -31% success rate advantage; the Aggies only won, 17-12, but SP + saw a match that was a comfortable win most of the time. He only lost A&M from 14th to 19th, while Vandy moved up slightly, from 114th to 110th.

  • Tennessee produced a 76% post-game winning chance against South Carolina and would typically have won by a margin higher than the suggested 31-27. The Vols slipped a little more (from 21st to 24th), but only slightly. Gamecocks, meanwhile, went from 35th to 34th.


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