Former SBNation contributor, turned ESPN writer Bill Connelly released the first iteration of his 2020 SP+ rankings this morning. SP+ is a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency that attempts to be predictive. Per Bill, these three factors are what makes up his preseason projections:
1. Returning production. Last week we published my initial returning production rankings for 2020, based on players graduating, leaving for the pros, transferring, etc. Estimating improvement or regression based on these percentages and applying it to last year’s SP+ ratings accounts for more than 50% of the overall numbers below.
2. Recent recruiting. After determining how much of last year’s team is being brought back, the next step is to determine the caliber of the players who will be filling in the missing returning production. To do that, I use a weighted mix of recent recruiting rankings. They primarily pull from the past two recruiting classes, but I have begun to incorporate older classes as well, to a lesser degree. No matter what the “stars don’t matter” crowd will tell you, recruiting rankings are extremely predictive, and these projections are more effective because of them.
3. Recent history. While last year’s SP+ ratings are taken into account with the returning production estimates above, I’ve found that involving previous years’ performances as well gives us a nice way of estimating overall program health. It stands to reason that a team that has played well for one year is less likely to duplicate that effort than a team that has been good for years on end (and vice versa), right? Recent history accounts for less than 10% of the overall projections; it is a minor factor, but the projections are better with it than without.
Auburn comes in at #11 in large part due to SP+ expecting Auburn’s defense to show very little drop off and rank as a top 3 unit in 2020. Unfortunately for the Tigers, 11th puts them 6th in the SEC. Auburn will have to play four of those teams next season. Oh and remember how trading Oregon for North Carolina was going to make life easier? Well they are #17 which is actually 2 spots ahead of where Oregon was ranked in last year’s preseason poll...
Never can be easy can it?
Here’s SP+ SEC rankings:
#1 - Alabama (#1 offense, #8 defense)
#4 - Georgia (#33 offense, #1 defense)
#6 - LSU (#5 offense, #23 defense)
#7 - Florida (#12 offense, #6 defense)
#10 - Texas A&M (#15 offense, #15 defense)
#11 - Auburn (#21 offense, #3 defense)
#19 - Tennessee (#56 offense, #7 defense)
#28 - Kentucky (#40 offense, #25 defense)
#35 - South Carolina (#79 offense, #19 defense)
#37 - Ole Miss (#37 offense, #40 defense)
#43 - Mississippi State (#24 offense, #74 defense)
#49 - Missouri (#108 offense, #18 defense)
#76 - Arkansas (#88 offense, #67 defense)
#101 - Vanderbilt (#121 offense, #52 defense)