The offseason is over! SP+ is here! With the 2023 recruiting class -- both traditional signings and transfers -- in the books for now, and with a reasonable feel for who's returning and who isn't, we can take our first step toward the 2023 college football season with the initial SP+ projections.
When last we saw college football, Georgia was finishing the season as an easy No. 1. What's changed since then?
I base SP+ projections on three primary factors, weighted by their predictiveness:
1. Returning production. The returning production numbers are based on rosters I have updated as much as possible to account for transfers and attrition. The combination of last year's SP+ ratings and adjustments based on returning production make up about half of the projections formula.
2. Recent recruiting. This piece informs us of the caliber of a team's potential replacements (and/or new stars) in the lineup. It is determined by the past few years of recruiting rankings in diminishing order (meaning the most recent class carries the most weight). Beginning this season, I am also incorporating transfers -- both the quality and the volume -- in a different way. After last season's transfer-heavy recruiting shift, I've got a bit more data for how to handle that. This piece makes up about one-third of the projections formula.
3. Recent history. Using a sliver of information from previous seasons (two to four years ago) gives us a good measure of overall program health. It stands to reason that a team that has played well for one year is less likely to duplicate that effort than a team that has been good for years on end (and vice versa), right? This is a minor piece of the puzzle -- only about 15% -- but the projections are better with it than without.
I will update these numbers in May and August, after further transfers and roster changes have come about (and after I've had a bit more time to tinker with handling transfers and other factors). But for now, let's look at what SP+ has to say about the college football landscape.
A reminder on SP+: It's a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency. It is a predictive measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football, not a résumé ranking, and, along those same lines, these projections aren't intended to be a guess at what the AP Top 25 will look like at the end of the year. These are simply early offseason power rankings based on the information we have been able to gather to date.
Here are the full rankings, now featuring 133 teams with the additions of Jacksonville State and Sam Houston. The No. 1 team should surprise absolutely no one.