College football's final preseason SP+ rankings takeaways

SP+ has Michigan ranked highly. The Wolverines are looking for a third consecutive Big Ten title. Joseph Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports

The college football hierarchy for 2023 is taking on a pretty familiar look: known heavyweights at the top, followed by a chaotic mess. In this year's final preseason SP+ projections, the Georgia Bulldogs, Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan Wolverines and Alabama Crimson Tide all start out within 1.1 points of each other ... and at least five points ahead of everyone else. Three of those teams are breaking in new quarterbacks and offensive coordinators, and that might be an opportunity for a shakeup, but these four teams have gone a combined 100-12 over the past two seasons (95-7 in games that aren't against each other) and claimed six of eight College Football Playoff bids. They have earned the benefit of the doubt.

Below are my final SP+ projections for the 2023 college football season. As covered in previous pieces, these are based on three primary factors: returning production (final rankings for which you can find at the bottom of this piece), recent recruiting and recent history. How good have you been recently? Whom do you have coming back? How good are the players replacing those you don't have coming back? That's loosely what we ask when we're setting expectations for a team; it's also what these projections attempt to do objectively, albeit with recent formula changes to account for college football's transfer explosion.

As always: SP+ is 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: