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ESPN Computer Model Ranks Every Team In College Football

Trevor Lawrence on the field during the National Title game.

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 07: Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers reacts against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Levi's Stadium on January 7, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Over the last few years, Bill Connelly's SP+ rankings have become a popular way to gauge the college football landscape. That's one of the reasons why ESPN hired Connelly this offseason.

Connelly developed his SP+ formula in 2008 and has adjusted it over the years. He describes it as "a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency."


SP+ is intended to be predictive and forward-facing. That is important to remember. It is not a résumé ranking that gives credit for big wins or particularly brave scheduling -- no good predictive system is. It is simply a measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football. If you're lucky or unimpressive in a win, your rating will probably fall. If you're strong and unlucky in a loss, it will probably rise.

Connelly's preseason rankings are based on three factors: recent history, returning production and recent recruiting.

The preseason SP+ top 10 looks like this:

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Georgia
  4. LSU
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Florida
  7. Ohio State
  8. Auburn
  9. Michigan
  10. Mississippi State

It looks like Connelly's model is slightly higher on LSU and Florida and much higher on Auburn and Mississippi State than the coaches or media voters are. It also seems to be slightly lower on Ohio State and Michigan.

You can see the full SP+ rankings for all of college football here.

They will be updated on a weekly basis throughout the season.