It’s been exactly one month since LSU took down Clemson in the national championship game which means there hasn’t been much to talk about – or really argue about – in the world of college football.
Well, that changed on Thursday as ESPN released its 2020 Preseason SP+ Rankings.
It’s worth noting that these aren’t the ‘official’ preseason rankings, these rankings are based off of three key factors.
The first thing Bill Connelly looks at here is returning production, which he writes “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.”
Next, you have 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.”
The final factor to look at is recent history, but these accounts for less than 10% of these overall projections. “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).”
With all of that taken into consideration, you may be surprised to not see either Clemson or Ohio State atop the rankings. Instead, that spot belongs to Alabama.
Here’s a look at the Top 25 in the SP+ rankings:
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Texas A&M
- Notre Dame
- Oklahoma State
As for the three worst teams in all of Division I football, New Mexico State, UMASS, and UTEP bring up the rear in the rankings.
You can see the full rankings of all 130 Division I teams here.