This spring, ESPN Stats & Information created its own version of a preseason college football poll: The Preseason Football Power Index.
The formula is designed to predict how strong each team (offense, defense, special teams) will be in 2014, using historical data on expected points added (EPA):
For example, Florida State’s past few years of performance, number of returnees (players and head coach) and recruiting suggest that its offense in the 2014 season is going to be a stellar 16.9 PPG better than average. Similarly, its defense will also likely be outstanding at +13.6 PPG, with a solid +1.7 PPG on special teams. With an overall preseason FPI of +32.2 -- representing how much better the Seminoles would be against an average FBS opponent (someone like Illinois) on a neutral field -- they project to be the best team in 2014, just as most subjective opinions have them.
With that, it should come as no surprise that Florida State comes in at the top of the 128-team list. Here is how all ACC teams stack up nationally:
1) Florida State
19) North Carolina
35) Virginia Tech
47) Georgia Tech
70) NC State
80) Boston College
97) Wake Forest
For those interested, Notre Dame, whom four ACC teams will face this season, checks in at 29.
One interesting point is one that many of us at the ACC blog have seemed to drive home a lot lately: What's with the underselling of Duke? The Blue Devils are the reigning ACC Coastal Division champions and have all of the pieces in place to make another run, yet there they are behind four other division teams. Sure, it should be a wide-open race yet again, but the slotting of Miami at No. 26 seems a bit optimistic when taking into account how poorly the Hurricanes finished last season, in addition to all of the uncertainty surrounding their quarterback situation following Ryan Williams' ACL tear this spring.