For fans of rival schools and a selection of college football writers and analysts, Michigan's 2023 national title will come with asterisks, thanks to the cloud of the spygate scandal, which hovered over all of November.
Well, SP+ doesn't hand out asterisks. It knows only what happens on the field. And after Monday night's 34-13 win over Washington in the CFP National Championship, Michigan can add another title to the list: the 2023 SP+ title. Hang the spreadsheet in the trophy case!
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.
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.
* I will have to figure out how best to handle bowl results moving forward. While some bowls provided pretty accurate representations of the teams that competed in them, others, such as Georgia vs. Florida State (which had a material impact on the ratings of two top-10 teams), were obviously hit hard enough by opt-outs and transfers that the games themselves maybe shouldn't be given full weight in a system like this. I will fiddle with options for addressing this in the offseason.
Here are the full rankings: