For much of the college football preseason and early season, we talked about the top three versus the field -- Georgia, Ohio State and Alabama standing far ahead of the rest of FBS in terms of both power ratings and national title odds.
We must abridge that a bit! Alabama's loss to LSU on Saturday evening, combined with a level of play that just isn't quite to Bama's annual standards, has left us with a top two versus the field.
Or is it a new top three? Georgia eased ahead of Ohio State for the top spot this week -- not a surprise considering the Dawgs' comfortable win over Tennessee and the Buckeyes' terribly underwhelming 21-7 win over Northwestern -- but the most noteworthy team might be Michigan, which not only hopped Alabama for third but moved to within 3.3 points of Ohio State overall. The Wolverines are closer to first than fifth at this point.
Below are this week's SP+ rankings. 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 indeed 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.