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25 Sep 2009

Varsity Numbers: Checking the Rankings

by Bill Connelly

Every few weeks this season, it is a good idea to check in on how the S&P+ rankings are coming together. Clearly it is early enough in the season that first, as with FEI, preseason projections are still playing a decent-sized role, and second, one good or bad game could alter a team's rating pretty significantly. That said, we're going to dive in nonetheless.

S&P+

As you may recall from previous editions of Varsity Numbers, the S&P+ rating is made up three components:

S&P+ is designed to measure efficiency (Success Rates) and explosiveness (PPP), adjusted for strength of schedule ("+"). As you would expect three games in, the limited schedule is going to contribute significantly to a team's rating, but that is one of the reasons preseason projections are still being used for 50% of the ranking at this point. Projections were determined using similar factors as those used for FEI projections (five-year history, returning starters, etc.), along with some of the turnover figures discussed here. With more years of data (by the offseason, there should be complete play-by-play for at least 2005-09, and maybe 2004 as well), more factors can be taken into account, hopefully creating a very useful, accurate system of projections.

In theory, if the projections are any good, they level out some of the extremes in the three-week raw numbers. But with such a small sample size, these early rankings should be used more for simply figuring out who may be overlooked or underrated (in terms of national perception) instead of truly ranking all 120 teams in terms of performance.

So without further adieu, here is your Top 120 FBS teams. Listed below are the following measures:

  • S&P+ and Rank
  • Offensive S&P+ and Rank
  • Defensive S&P+ and Rank
  • Raw S&P margin (Offensive S&P minus Defensive S&P, unadjusted for strength of schedule)

These numbers do not take into account South Carolina's win over Mississippi Thursday.

Estimated S&P+ Rankings After Week 3
S&P+
Rk
Team Conference Est.
S&P+
Off. S&P+
Rk
Def. S&P+
Rk
S&P
Margin (Rk)
1 Florida (3-0) SEC 142.1 1 8 +0.665 (1)
2 USC (2-1) Pac-10 129.7 4 6 +0.257 (26)
3 Ohio State (2-1) Big Ten 128.2 10 13 +0.146 (47)
4 Penn State (3-0) Big Ten 126.7 11 5 +0.642 (3)
5 Texas (3-0) Big 12 124.8 38 25 +0.163 (44)
6 Oklahoma (2-1) Big 12 123.3 9 12 +0.395 (13)
7 Alabama (3-0) SEC 123.3 2 9 +0.567 (4)
8 LSU (3-0) SEC 121.6 45 26 +0.271 (23)
9 Georgia (2-1) SEC 120.2 64 21 +0.034 (69)
10 Oklahoma State (2-1) Big 12 119.3 29 22 +0.069 (60)
11 Miami-FL (2-0) ACC 119.1 41 15 +0.411 (9)
12 Boise State (3-0) WAC 118.3 46 7 +0.273 (21)
13 TCU (2-0) MWC 117.2 6 18 +0.643 (2)
14 Tennessee (1-2) SEC 117.2 32 3 +0.201 (37)
15 Clemson (2-1) ACC 117.0 95 1 +0.120 (50)
16 Oregon (2-1) Pac-10 116.2 7 10 +0.021 (70)
17 Cincinnati (3-0) Big East 115.5 13 38 +0.495 (7)
18 Iowa (3-0) Big Ten 115.0 69 4 +0.201 (36)
19 Missouri (3-0) Big 12 114.9 25 27 +0.279 (18)
20 Ole Miss (2-0) SEC 113.8 27 23 +0.398 (12)
S&P+
Rk
Team Conference Est.
S&P+
Off. S&P+
Rk
Def. S&P+
Rk
S&P
Margin (Rk)
21 Connecticut (2-1) Big East 113.7 63 2 +0.115 (52)
22 California (3-0) Pac-10 113.1 26 20 +0.406 (11)
23 Arkansas (1-1) SEC 112.7 28 94 +0.182 (42)
24 Nebraska (2-1) Big 12 111.9 16 31 +0.196 (39)
25 Auburn (3-0) SEC 111.8 19 24 +0.218 (33)
26 Virginia Tech (2-1) ACC 111.5 31 16 +0.048 (64)
27 Florida State (2-1) ACC 110.3 60 37 +0.002 (76)
28 Oregon State (2-1) Pac-10 110.2 55 40 +0.039 (67)
29 BYU (2-1) MWC 110.2 22 65 +0.155 (45)
30 UCLA (3-0) Pac-10 110.1 21 19 +0.110 (53)
31 Texas Tech (2-1) Big 12 109.6 39 42 +0.257 (27)
32 Georgia Tech (2-1) ACC 109.2 12 82 -0.010 (78)
33 Utah (2-1) MWC 108.9 37 14 +0.152 (46)
34 South Florida (3-0) Big East 108.4 33 61 +0.506 (6)
35 Wisconsin (3-0) Big Ten 108.4 40 45 +0.296 (17)
36 West Virginia (2-1) Big East 108.3 14 41 +0.297 (16)
37 Boston College (2-1) ACC 108.3 77 39 +0.305 (15)
38 Pittsburgh (3-0) Big East 107.7 43 17 +0.409 (10)
39 Virginia (0-3) ACC 107.4 34 36 -0.057 (88)
40 Troy (1-2) Sun Belt 106.7 17 11 +0.040 (66)
S&P+
Rk
Team Conference Est.
S&P+
Off. S&P+
Rk
Def. S&P+
Rk
S&P
Margin (Rk)
41 Southern Miss (3-0) Conference USA 106.2 36 72 +0.273 (22)
42 Kansas (3-0) Big 12 105.6 47 100 +0.525 (5)
43 Tulsa (2-1) Conference USA 105.3 90 101 +0.127 (49)
44 Michigan (3-0) Big Ten 105.0 75 32 +0.260 (25)
45 Wake Forest (2-1) ACC 104.9 52 30 +0.001 (77)
46 Michigan State (1-2) Big Ten 104.3 51 47 +0.197 (38)
47 Minnesota (2-1) Big Ten 104.0 59 43 -0.033 (84)
48 South Carolina (2-1) SEC 103.8 5 75 +0.170 (43)
49 Baylor (1-1) Big 12 103.7 3 57 +0.084 (58)
50 North Carolina (3-0) ACC 103.1 18 59 +0.233 (30)
51 Nevada (0-2) WAC 102.8 80 89 -0.264 (111)
52 Maryland (1-2) ACC 102.7 72 80 -0.184 (106)
53 Fresno State (1-2) WAC 102.1 23 73 +0.054 (63)
54 Arizona (2-1) Pac-10 101.6 53 53 +0.105 (54)
55 Navy (1-2) Independent 101.2 24 60 -0.028 (83)
56 Houston (2-0) Conference USA 100.4 42 97 +0.455 (8)
57 Notre Dame (2-1) Independent 100.1 15 67 +0.095 (55)
58 Northwestern (2-1) Big Ten 100.0 74 58 +0.183 (41)
59 Stanford (2-1) Pac-10 99.6 8 105 +0.184 (40)
60 Rutgers (2-1) Big East 99.5 78 102 -0.111 (97)
S&P+
Rk
Team Conference Est.
S&P+
Off. S&P+
Rk
Def. S&P+
Rk
S&P
Margin (Rk)
61 Illinois (1-1) Big Ten 99.5 83 90 +0.279 (19)
62 Purdue (1-2) Big Ten 99.3 30 44 +0.045 (65)
63 N.C. State (2-1) ACC 98.0 115 52 +0.277 (20)
64 Washington (2-1) Pac-10 97.7 54 63 -0.092 (93)
65 Vanderbilt (1-2) SEC 97.6 98 66 +0.003 (75)
66 Hawaii (2-1) WAC 97.0 49 62 +0.238 (29)
67 East Carolina (1-2) Conference USA 96.7 92 35 -0.199 (108)
68 Syracuse (1-2) Big East 95.8 57 28 -0.099 (96)
69 Kentucky (2-0) SEC 95.3 79 77 +0.250 (28)
70 Louisville (1-1) Big East 95.2 84 117 +0.205 (35)
71 Colorado (1-2) Big 12 94.7 85 76 -0.153 (104)
72 Rice (0-3) Conference USA 94.6 88 71 -0.496 (117)
73 UAB (1-2) Conference USA 94.2 61 70 -0.037 (86)
74 Northern Illinois (2-1) MAC 94.2 87 54 -0.027 (82)
75 Texas A&M (2-0) Big 12 94.0 71 78 +0.216 (34)
76 Middle Tennessee St. (2-1) Sun Belt 93.6 20 95 +0.063 (62)
77 Memphis (1-2) Conference USA 92.7 91 51 -0.062 (89)
78 Wyoming (1-2) MWC 92.6 107 46 -0.150 (103)
79 Marshall (2-1) Conference USA 92.0 68 99 -0.143 (100)
80 Kansas State (1-2) Big 12 91.7 81 74 +0.015 (73)
S&P+
Rk
Team Conference Est.
S&P+
Off. S&P+
Rk
Def. S&P+
Rk
S&P
Margin (Rk)
81 Utah State (0-2) WAC 91.4 44 84 -0.226 (109)
82 Arizona State (2-0) Pac-10 91.3 119 55 +0.386 (14)
83 Bowling Green (1-2) MAC 91.0 93 29 -0.096 (94)
84 Louisiana Tech (1-2) WAC 90.4 104 88 -0.145 (102)
85 Central Florida (2-1) Conference USA 90.2 105 33 +0.014 (74)
86 San Jose State (0-3) WAC 89.6 108 34 -0.491 (116)
87 San Diego State (1-2) MWC 89.3 94 103 -0.015 (79)
88 Temple (0-2) MAC 89.1 56 69 -0.083 (92)
89 Colorado State (3-0) MWC 88.6 58 79 +0.220 (32)
90 Mississippi State (2-1) SEC 88.5 82 56 +0.064 (61)
91 UL-Monroe (1-2) Sun Belt 88.5 50 120 +0.117 (51)
92 Indiana (3-0) Big Ten 88.5 97 106 +0.145 (48)
93 Duke (1-2) ACC 88.4 96 50 -0.082 (91)
94 SMU (2-1) Conference USA 88.4 102 111 +0.088 (57)
95 UNLV (2-1) MWC 88.2 62 96 +0.093 (56)
96 Toledo (1-2) MAC 88.1 86 104 -0.169 (105)
97 Washington State (1-2) Pac-10 87.6 110 64 -0.410 (114)
98 Iowa State (2-1) Big 12 87.5 48 114 +0.069 (59)
99 Central Michigan (2-1) MAC 87.4 99 108 +0.020 (71)
100 Akron (1-2) MAC 87.3 89 83 -0.119 (98)
S&P+
Rk
Team Conference Est.
S&P+
Off. S&P+
Rk
Def. S&P+
Rk
S&P
Margin (Rk)
101 Army (2-1) Independent 87.2 113 68 +0.037 (68)
102 UL-Lafayette (2-1) Sun Belt 86.9 66 85 +0.017 (72)
103 Florida Atlantic (0-2) Sun Belt 86.5 70 107 -0.479 (115)
104 Air Force (2-1) Mountain West 85.9 100 86 +0.221 (31)
105 Ohio (2-1) MAC 85.1 67 87 -0.021 (80)
106 UTEP (1-2) Conference USA 84.7 101 81 -0.056 (87)
107 Buffalo (1-2) MAC 84.4 35 116 -0.099 (95)
108 Eastern Michigan (0-3) MAC 83.8 65 109 -0.251 (110)
109 New Mexico (0-3) MWC 82.3 120 91 -0.394 (113)
110 Ball State (0-3) MAC 82.0 103 93 -0.144 (101)
111 Idaho (2-1) WAC 81.5 106 98 -0.026 (81)
112 Florida International (0-2) Sun Belt 81.3 109 49 -0.367 (112)
113 Kent State (1-2) MAC 80.5 112 110 -0.127 (99)
114 Western Michigan (1-2) MAC 80.4 114 112 -0.186 (107)
115 Arkansas State (1-1) Sun Belt 79.3 76 92 +0.262 (24)
116 Tulane (0-2) Conference USA 79.2 116 118 -0.597 (119)
117 North Texas (1-2) Sun Belt 79.0 73 48 -0.033 (85)
118 Western Kentucky (0-3) Sun Belt 75.8 111 115 -0.676 (120)
119 New Mexico State (1-2) WAC 75.8 118 113 -0.077 (90)
120 Miami-OH (0-3) MAC 74.1 117 119 -0.516 (118)

Surprises and Thoughts

  • Penn State has so effectively blown out the cupcakes on their schedule that their ranking increased despite strength of schedule.
  • Seven of the Top 10 are from either the SEC or Big 12. No real surprise there.
  • Thanks to projections and the team's decent performance against third-ranked Ohio State, USC has not fallen far despite the loss to Washington. Future performance and schedule adjustments will even that later.
  • Clearly Oregon is still benefiting from its preseason projections. The Ducks only have a couple of weeks to start achieving before their ranking falls precipitously.
  • Best five teams with losing records: Tennessee (14), Virginia (39), Troy (40), Michigan State (46), Nevada (51). No explanation whatsoever for Virginia being ranked 39th.
  • Five lowest-ranked undefeated teams: Indiana (92), Colorado State (89), Arizona State (82), Texas A&M (75), Kentucky (69). Clearly if they keep winning, they will each show some upward mobility.

At the very least, this exercise should give you insight for some of the S&P+ picks made during the weekly Seventh Day Adventures article.

F/+

In this summer's Football Outsiders Almanac, there was one more figure shared with FEI and S&P+. It was the combination of the two, known in the book as F/+. For 2008, both FEI and S&P+ had correlations of about 0.83-0.85 to winning percentage. The correlation of F/+ was around 0.88. This makes sense, of course. Both measures have their advantages and disadvantages, and a combination of the two would cancel out some of the outliers.

F/+ Top 20
F/+ Rk Team S&P+ Rk FEI Rk
1 Florida 1 1
2 USC 2 3
3 Ohio State 3 4
4 Texas 5 2
5 Oklahoma 6 9
6 Alabama 7 10
7 Penn State 4 22
8 Miami 11 7
9 LSU 8 13
10 Clemson 15 11
11 Boise State 12 14
12 Georgia 9 21
13 Auburn 25 5
14 Iowa 18 15
15 Florida State 27 8
16 Virginia Tech 26 12
17 TCU 13 27
18 West Virginia 36 6
19 Oklahoma State 10 33
20 Oregon 16 29

The F/+ measure has been good early on at balancing out the S&P+ infatuation with Penn State, Georgia and TCU, and FEI's love of all things Auburn and West Virginia.

The goal is not simply to use Varsity Numbers as a space for posting weekly S&P+ (or F/+) rankings, but every few weeks (when the column ideas are running a little low ... ahem), checking in on these measures is a good thing. And we're working on weekly updates of both S&P+ and FEI in the FO statistics section

Posted by: Bill Connelly on 25 Sep 2009

13 comments, Last at 28 Sep 2009, 12:57pm by DaninPhilly

Comments

1
by bird jam :: Fri, 09/25/2009 - 12:26pm

Tennessee is clearly ranked too high because [reason unrelated to S&P+]. [subjective ranking system] is way better than this. [unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling]

(And I say all of the above as a die-hard Vol fan.)

12
by vcn (not verified) :: Sat, 09/26/2009 - 11:56am

It's sarcasm.

2
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Fri, 09/25/2009 - 12:49pm

Is it just me, or is Auburn look kind of kookie?

3
by Steve (not verified) :: Fri, 09/25/2009 - 1:03pm

So, basically what we have here is an object lesson in "small sample size".

4
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 09/25/2009 - 2:04pm

No one's going to mention the utterly ridiculous gap between Florida and the other teams? It's there in FEI as well.

This is why I really, really hope that Penn State doesn't go undefeated and face Florida in the NC game. If Florida keeps playing like this, they're the national champions, and I have no interest in seeing my team be their sacrificial goat.

6
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Fri, 09/25/2009 - 4:00pm

What an attitude! I thought PSU fans were tougher than that. That's the kind of matchup you crave! A loss is just a loss, but a win! That's the kind of thing your grandkids talk about.

As a Bama fan, I take a lot of pride in whalloping a heavily favored Miami team in '93. It would not have been the same had 99.3% of the nation written off the game as a sure 'Canes win.

9
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 09/25/2009 - 4:45pm

It's just realism. This isn't necessarily about favoritism: Florida's just playing way better than the rest of college football right now. That's just a fact.

You might say "well, it's like the 2007 NFL season!" but really, it's not. In that case there were signs that the Giants could play at the Patriots level (especially in DVOA, where the postseason Giants put up a DVOA roughly equal to the postseason Patriots). They were just ignored because it was too small a sample size.

Unless something *really* turns around, I don't think there will be any such signs this year. Florida was really good last year, and had an unnatural number of underclassmen. I'm not surprised they're better than the rest of the field, and barring a metric crapton of injuries, I don't think it'll change.

Even the Penn State win over Miami back in the 80s isn't the same. That game, I could believe that Penn State could win. Right now, Penn State vs. Florida? That'd be an easy Fred Edelstein Lock.

10
by t.d. :: Fri, 09/25/2009 - 6:28pm

The talk around here is that Florida is in real trouble without any wide receivers. Monte Kiffin called a very effective game against them, which could be considered a blueprint for containing them. Right now, I'd take Alabama over them.

11
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 09/25/2009 - 6:39pm

"Very effective"? 23 points is average for a football game. The Tennessee/Florida game was also only 8 real drives long: 23 points in 8 drives is a field goal per drive. An offense that can average a field goal per drive is nearly impossible to keep up with.

(That's not to mention the fact that they were within a few yards of scoring another TD.)

I don't think that Tennessee's game plan is anything to be followed. Tennessee forced them to run the ball, and they, uh, did. Ridiculously well. Unless another defense can force them to run the ball and be effective at stopping them, it's not a good game plan.

13
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Mon, 09/28/2009 - 12:57pm

It seems that Penn State agreed with you. You must be relieved!

Last year, I wonder if Ole Miss had that attitude before their tumble with Florida?

5
by LyleNM (not verified) :: Fri, 09/25/2009 - 3:58pm

Sigh, it's "without further ado" not "without further adieu".

7
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Fri, 09/25/2009 - 4:01pm

This is much adieu about nothing, if you ask me.

8
by Bobman :: Fri, 09/25/2009 - 4:27pm

I suppose if French actress Audrey Tautou moved into your house with no intention of leaving, that would be without further adieu, non? Might be kinda cool as well....