<
>

SP+ rankings after Week 14: Why Alabama doesn't drop after Iron Bowl loss

play
Galloway: No one will want to play Clemson in semis (2:39)

Joey Galloway and Jesse Palmer reveal their CFP rankings and Palmer discusses the Big 12's chance at getting into the playoff. (2:39)

Rivalry Week was a strange ride that featured multiple brawls, saw a game decided by a dog urination impression (and the missed PAT that followed), and assured us of college football's first Bama-free College Football Playoff.

It didn't change much about how we view the top teams, however. The top four teams in the CFP rankings all demolished their competition, and it took a wild set of unlikely occurrences -- two pick sixes (including one deflected off of an offensive player's back), a missed short field goal for the loser, four long-bomb FGs for the winner, and the funniest and most important illegal participation penalty you'll ever see -- to knock Alabama backwards. (Bama's post-game win expectancy, a measure I elaborated on in this Chalk post, was 94%, meaning a team with the Tide's key stats in this game would almost never lose.)

The top of the SP+ ratings, then, didn't change either. Utah and Florida each moved up a spot (to seventh and eighth, respectively) after Penn State sleep-walked past Rutgers, and Wisconsin and Baylor moved up after impressive wins. But for the most part, last week's predictive ratings are this week's predictive ratings.

By the way, here's an early look at what SP+ has to say about the upcoming conference title games:
ACC (Clemson vs. Virginia): Clemson by 21.0 (win probability: 89%)
Big 12 (Baylor vs. Oklahoma): OU by 6.4 (64%)
Big Ten (Ohio State vs. Wisconsin): OSU by 14.1 (79%)
Pac-12 (Utah vs. Oregon): Utah by 7.1 (66%)
SEC (Georgia vs. LSU): LSU by 2.6 (56%)

AAC (Cincinnati at Memphis): Memphis by 15.4 (81%)
Conference USA (UAB vs. FAU): FAU by 8.0 (68%)
MAC (Miami vs. CMU): CMU by 6.7 (65%)
MWC (Hawaii at Boise State): BSU by 13.3 (78%)
Sun Belt (Louisiana at Appalachian State): App State by 3.6 (58%)

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 intended to be predictive and forward-facing. That is important to remember. 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.