As the college football offseason continues, we'll see a slew of early preseason top 25 rankings. ESPN's FPI top 25 was updated today.
Clemson, Alabama and Georgia are the top three teams, but beyond that, we start to get some surprises. Again, the FPI is done with a computer formula.
If you're unfamiliar with the FPI, don't worry. Below is a quick explanation of its criteria, via ESPN.
You can read a full explanation of FPI's inner workings here or watch the accompanying video. But the quick version is that in the preseason, FPI ratings are determined through four factors:
- Team performance over the past four seasons (most emphasis on last season)
- Returning starters at quarterback, on offense overall and on defense
- Whether a team has a returning head coach
- Recruiting rankings over the past four seasons
You can see ESPN's full FPI top 25 and more here.
By our estimation, there are a few teams slotted too high according to the Worldwide Leader's computer. Here are the five most "overrated" teams in the preseason FPI:
LSU (Ranked No. 4)
The Tigers are a quality team. They finished No. 6 in the final AP Poll of 2018 and a preseason ranking lower in the top 10 is fair as well. But No. 4 seems a bit too high for this team. LSU is losing two major studs in CB Greedy Williams and LB Devin White, plus standout running back Nick Brossette, and they have a beastly schedule that includes a non-conference trip to Texas, plus the usual SEC West gauntlet.
Michigan (Ranked No. 5)
Similarly to LSU, Michigan being in the top 10 makes sense, but we would drop the Wolverines a few slots. They have to replace a tremendous amount of defensive talent, starting in the front seven. Also, under new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, they have to prove their offense is ready to take another step forward, particularly in the passing game. Lastly, it sounds like beating a dead horse, but the Wolverines still haven't won enough big games under Jim Harbaugh to justify being placed this high.
Michigan State (Ranked No. 14)
Don't worry Michigan fans, we have plenty of questions about your in-state rival too. The Spartans had one of the best defenses in the country in 2018, but that offense. Yikes. A healthier Brian Lewerke could make a difference, but the offensive line will need to show marked improvement for the unit to make a huge leap in 2019. Mark Dantonio's shuffling of his offensive staff felt like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. MSU will have a strong defense and manageable non-conference schedule in 2019, but until we see strides on offense, keep them out of any top 15.
Tennessee (Ranked No. 15)
Jeremy Pruitt landed a signature win in Year 1, beating Auburn on the road. However, the offense slumped badly down the stretch, and it culminated in a 38-13 beatdown in the regular season finale against Vanderbilt. The FPI is high on the Vols because they return so many starters on offense, and we do expect Pruitt to lead his program to a bowl in Year 2. However, we still need to see more from quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, and the team as a whole, before we consider them as a top-15 unit.
UCLA (Ranked No. 21)
This might be the most glaring inclusion in the top 25. UCLA went 3-9 in its first year under Chip Kelly, and the Bruins just had a miserable signing day. The FPI is citing last year's formidable strength of schedule and the returning talent as the main reasons UCLA is where it is. Slotting a team 21st means you're thinking they will win at least eight games and with the schedule the Bruins have (at Cincinnati and hosting Oklahoma in non-conference, at USC, Utah and Washington State in conference play), eight seems like a stretch.