In Week 4 of the 2022 college football season, the teams that hadn't yet looked vulnerable finally did so (except Minnesota, anyway). Georgia dilly-dallied for long periods in its win over Kent State, Michigan had to lean heavily on Blake Corum to stay ahead ahead of Maryland, USC needed all of 60 minutes to fend off Oregon State, and in the end, 12 of the remaining 33 unbeaten FBS teams lost, five as favorites.
Now that the ground has settled and all of the top teams (except Minnesota) have had at least one close call, the SP+ ratings look ... about as they did before the season. Alabama's back on top, Ohio State and Georgia are nearly tied for second, and of the teams in the current SP+ top 10, nine were projected 13th or higher in the preseason. (The exception? You guessed it: Minnesota!)
That's not to say nothing has changed, however. The Big 12's brilliant early showing has given it five teams in the top 23 and eight in the top 40 (and has prevented Oklahoma from falling after Saturday night's loss to Kansas State). Out west, the Pac-12 has shown all sorts of life, jumping the ACC in the averages and landing five teams in the top 25. Beneath the surface, there is plenty of change afoot.
What is SP+? In a single sentence, it's a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency. I created the system at Football Outsiders in 2008, and as my experience with both college football and its stats has grown, I have made quite a few tweaks to the system.
SP+ is intended to be predictive and forward-facing. 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.