We know who the top three teams in college football probably are. Michigan, Ohio State and Georgia were projected in the top three to start the season, and none has ranked worse than fourth at any point in the first seven weeks of 2023. But they aren't really pulling away from the pack.
Michigan took its time before hitting the accelerator against Indiana on Saturday, and Georgia never really shifted out of third gear in a comfortable but frustrating win over Vanderbilt. They each kept their lofty rankings, and Ohio State moved back to second following a routine thumping of Purdue, but the No. 1 and No. 11 teams in this week's SP+ rankings are still only separated by about a touchdown. The Top six are only separated by a field goal. We're used to far greater stratification than that.
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.
Here are the full rankings: