The biggest names in the transfer portal have mostly made their decisions, and my weekly power conference previews begin this week. It sounds like a pretty good time to post some updated SP+ projections!
Thus far, my preview series has leaned on numbers posted in February after the second national signing day had come and gone. But enough has changed at this point — I was getting ready to write a Pac-12 South preview using numbers that thought quarterback Jayden Daniels was still at Arizona State, for instance — that it felt like a good time for an update. These aren’t the final projections of the offseason; those will still come in mid-to-late August. But let’s see what havoc the transfer portal hath wrought in the past three months.
A quick reminder: Preseason projections are based on three factors.
1. Returning production. The returning production numbers are based on rosters I have updated as much as possible to account for transfers and attrition. The combination of last year’s SP+ ratings and adjustments based on returning production makes up more than two-thirds of the projections formula.
2. Recent recruiting. This piece informs us of the caliber of a team’s potential replacements (and/or new stars) in the lineup. It is determined by the past few years of recruiting rankings in diminishing order (meaning the most recent class carries the most weight). Beginning in 2022, this category also is impacted a bit by the recruiting rankings of incoming transfers. This is a new thing, and I’m not giving it much weight right away, but it will have a slight impact. This piece makes up about one-fifth of the projections formula.
3. Recent history. Using a sliver of information from previous seasons (two to four years ago) gives us a good measure of overall program health. It stands to reason that a team that has played well for one year is less likely to duplicate that effort than a team that has been good for years on end (and vice versa), right? This is a minor piece of the puzzle, but the projections are better with it than without.
(One other reminder: SP+ is a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency. It is a predictive measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football, not a résumé ranking, and, along those same lines, these projections aren’t intended to be a guess at what the AP Top 25 will look like at the end of the year. These are simply early offseason power rankings based on the information we have been able to gather to date.)
Now to the list! The change column represents how much a team’s rating has changed since February (the change in ranking is in parentheses). These changes are due primarily to either transfers or the simple fact that, when I posted the February rankings, less than half of FBS had posted official updated rosters for 2022. Over the past three months, I found that some rosters had far more losses than anticipated.
Here are the full rankings: