SP+ rankings for all 131 FBS teams — with a new No. 1

    Bill Connelly is a staff writer for ESPN.com.

The verbiage almost never changes. Each week, when I put out updated SP+ rankings, I say 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.”

Note the italics. Week 2 of the 2022 season gave us some of the best possible examples of how that part works.

Alabama beat Texas 20-19 with a last-second field goal following a statistically even contest. Texas didn’t almost pull an upset with fluky turnovers luck and special teams wildness; the Longhorns nearly won by simply lining up and beating the top-ranked Crimson Tide. Consequently, despite the fact that Bama survived, Alabama’s SP+ rating fell by 4.5 points in a win while Texas’ rose by 1.4 in a loss. The Tide now rank second overall, behind Georgia, while the Horns have jumped from 18th to 16th.

Down in Conway, South Carolina, we got another example. Coastal Carolina moved to 2-0 on the season by beating FCS foe Gardner-Webb 31-27. Again, it wasn’t some fluky series of bounces that kept GWU close — in fact, GWU was the statistically superior team, gaining 495 yards (7.5 per play) to Coastal’s 354 (5.3). The Chanticleers recovered four of the game’s five fumbles, which saved the day, but that isn’t a sustainable recipe. Therefore, despite the win, their SP+ rating fell by a whopping 5.8 points, the biggest drop of the week. They were 65th, and now they’re 80th.

There were plenty of other moves during a wacky second week. Check out the new rankings below.

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.

(Note: Special teams still don’t carry much weight this early in the season. That’s why the range between good and bad is almost nonexistent this week.)

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