College football's post-Week 13 SP+ rankings

We're almost to the finish line. The table is set for next week's conference championship games, from Georgia-Alabama to Liberty-NMSU, and from the standpoint of predictive ratings, things look a lot like they did a week ago. The top four remain the same in this week's SP+ ratings, though Ohio State's rating slipped a bit following Saturday's loss to Michigan. The Buckeyes are now in a dead heat with Oregon and Penn State for the No. 3 spot, and the top two have distanced themselves a bit. And from a predictive standpoint, Washington appears to be leaking some oil as it approaches the Pac-12 championship.

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:

This week's movers

Let's take a look at the teams that saw the biggest change in their overall ratings. (Note: We're looking at ratings, not rankings.)


Here are the 10 teams that saw their ratings rise the most this week:

  • USF: up 3.0 adjusted points per game (ranking rose from 110th to 102nd)

  • UConn: up 2.9 points (from 126th to 122nd)

  • San Diego State: up 2.9 points (from 112th to 107th)

  • California: up 2.9 points (from 71st to 62nd)

  • Virginia Tech: up 2.6 points (from 60th to 50th)

  • Missouri: up 2.4 points (from 17th to 12th)

  • NC State: up 2.2 points (from 42nd to 30th)

  • Kansas: up 2.0 points (from 40th to 33rd)

  • Louisiana: up 1.9 points (from 69th to 64th)

  • Texas: up 1.9 points (from eighth to seventh)

USF's resounding win over Charlotte earned the Bulls their first bowl bid since 2018 and capped one of the nation's best first-year coaching jobs; Alex Golesh inherited a USF team that had gone just 4-29 over the last three seasons and won six in his Year One. Incredible.

Also incredible: Missouri ranking 12th and Kansas ranking in the top 35. Mizzou's Eliah Drinkwitz should easily be the SEC's coach of the year, and while we already knew Kansas' Lance Leipold was a wizard, he keeps proving his wizardry is even greater than we thought.


Here are the 10 teams whose ratings fell the most:

  • Texas Tech: down 3.0 points (from 44th to 55th)

  • Coastal Carolina: down 2.9 points (from 64th to 76th)

  • North Carolina: down 2.7 points (from 18th to 26th)

  • UCLA: down 2.7 points (from 25th to 40th)

  • Navy: down 2.7 points (from 107th to 114th)

  • Oregon State: down 2.6 points (from 12th to 17th)

  • UTSA: down 2.5 points (from 45th to 53rd)

  • Fresno State: down 2.4 points (from 59th to 63rd)

  • Cincinnati: down 2.1 points (from 81st to 88th)

  • Ohio State: down 1.9 points (no change from third)

There were quite a few demoralizing Rivalry Week performances. Some capped disappointing late-season collapses. Others deprived teams of conference title game spots. But Texas Tech and Oregon State losing by a combined 88-14 to departing rivals Texas and Oregon, respectively, had to hurt a little more than the others. Texas Tech's loss was more resounding, but of course Oregon State then proceeded to lose head coach Jonathan Smith to Michigan State. Smith leaves behind a rock-solid program, but Oregon State heads into a murky future with a mandatory pressing of the reset button. That stinks.

Conference rankings

Here are the FBS' 10 conferences, ranked by average SP+.

1. SEC: +9.9 average adjusted points per team (31.9 offense, 23.0 defense)
2. Big Ten: +5.4 average (23.3 offense, 18.4 defense)
3. Pac-12: +5.1 average (32.2 offense, 27.0 defense)
4. Big 12: +4.4 average (30.3 offense, 26.1 defense)
5. ACC: +3.4 average (27.3 offense, 24.4 defense)
6. Sun Belt: -4.7 average (26.9 offense, 31.3 defense)
7. Mountain West: -7.0 average (24.3 offense, 31.4 defense)
8. Conference USA: -7.6 average (22.5 offense, 29.4 defense)
9. AAC: -8.9 average (24.4 offense, 32.7 defense)
10. MAC: -11.4 average (16.6 offense, 27.3 defense)

There are a couple of interesting things to note here. First, the Big Ten hopped the Pac-12 into second overall, thanks primarily to some of the Pac-12's previous bright lights -- UCLA, Oregon State, Washington -- all dropping more than risers like Cal and Arizona rose. But the Big Ten has risen with almost no help whatsoever from its western half. The Big Ten East's average rating is +10.8, second to only the SEC West (+11.2) among the sport's eight remaining divisions; the Big Ten West, on the other hand, averaged just a +0.1 rating, far closer to the Sun Belt East (-3.3) than the SEC East (+8.6). The final West division is one of the worst Wests on record.

Second, look at the conferences ranked eighth and ninth. A decade or so ago, Conference USA pilfered a number of Sun Belt teams in a show of relative power, but in acquiring pieces loosely associated with large markets (like North Texas, Middle Tennessee, FAU and FIU) instead of focusing on actual quality, CUSA quickly ended up with a worse conference than the Sun Belt, at least in terms of average SP+.

I feared the AAC was failing to learn that lesson when it responded to the loss of Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12 by aiming for quantity over quality; it added six teams from a weak CUSA ... and has ended up weaker than CUSA. It still boasts a pair of top-50 teams in SMU and Tulane, but eight of its 14 teams rank in the triple digits (among them, three recent additions) and five rank among the nation's bottom 20. Some of its old members, like Temple and Tulsa, are bottoming out, and among the newbies only UTSA really carried its weight. The Sun Belt has produced easily the best overall quality among the Group of 5 and, in No. 18 James Madison, has the best team as well. But since the Dukes are ineligible for the conference title or a New Year's Six bid (don't get me started again on that one), either the AAC champ or No. 20 Liberty appears poised to take it instead.

Résumé SP+

Because the College Football Playoff rankings are on the horizon, I'm also including Résumé SP+ rankings in this piece each week.

As mentioned above, SP+ is intended to be a power rating, not a résumé evaluation tool, but Résumé SP+ attempts to fill that latter gap. It is a look at two things: (1) how the average SP+ top-five team would be projected to perform against your schedule (in terms of scoring margin) and (2) how your scoring margin compares to (1). Throw in a seven-point penalty for every loss a team has suffered, and you can say that this is what the CFP rankings would look like if SP+ were in charge.

(Note: Because of the high bar teams have to clear in getting compared to an average top-five team, and because of the loss adjustment, almost every team here ends up with a negative score. It is what it is.)

Here is this week's Résumé SP+ top 15:

1. Michigan (12-0): +1.8 points
2. Georgia (12-0): -0.2 points
3. Florida State (12-0): -4.0 points
4. Oregon (11-1): -5.0 points
5. Ohio State (11-1): -7.0 points
6. Washington (12-0): -7.1 points
7. Alabama (11-1): -9.9 points
8. Texas (11-1): -10.6 points
9. Penn State (10-2): -13.5 points
10. Oklahoma (10-2): -17.5 points
11. Liberty (12-0): -19.5 points
12. Missouri (10-2): -23.2 points
13. James Madison (11-1): -24.3 points
14. Notre Dame (9-3): -24.3 points
15. Ole Miss (10-2): -24.5 points

Washington's recent lack of dominance has been noticeable, but the most noteworthy ranking here might be Oregon at fourth and Ohio State a couple of points behind in fifth. We basically know most of what we need to know about how the CFP committee will rank these teams on Tuesday, but we don't know for sure how far Ohio State will drop. This suggests the Buckeyes should be behind the Ducks (though obviously Washington will rank ahead of both of them).