It’s time for our weekly look at the Football S&P+ rankings, developed by FootballOutsiders and featured prominently in SB Nation’s college football coverage. From FootballOutsiders, a description:
The components for S&P+ reflect opponent-adjusted components of four of what Bill Connelly has deemed the Five Factors of college football: efficiency, explosiveness, field position, and finishing drives. (A fifth factor, turnovers, is informed marginally by sack rates, the only quality-based statistic that has a consistent relationship with turnover margins.)
Here are the components of the ratings shared below:
Second-Order Wins (2ndO Wins): Defined here and discussed in further detail here and here, second-order wins compare the advanced statistical components of a given game, and the single-game win expectancy they create, to the actual results of the game. This projected win total is a cousin of the Pythagorean record, a concept common in many sports. They are presented below, with the difference between a team's wins and second-order wins in parentheses.
S&P+ rating: Using the five-factors concept above, the S&P+ ratings take into account efficiency (Success Rates), explosiveness (IsoPPP), and factors related to field position and finishing drives. It is now presented in two forms: the first is a percentile, and the second is an adjusted scoring margin specific for this specific season's scoring curve.
Off. S&P+ rating: A team's offense-specific S&P+ rating, presented in the form of an adjusted scoring average.
Def. S&P+ rating: A team's defense-specific S&P+ rating, presented in the form of an adjusted scoring average (and since this is defense, the lower the average, the better).
Special Teams S&P+ rating: This is an initial attempt to measure play-for-play special teams efficiency, weighted for overall importance..
Not surprisingly, BC is midpack in these rankings, ranked #62. BC moved up six spots from #68 following their win over Buffalo, who are ranked #127 of 128 in this week’s rankings.
The Eagles' offense is ranked #122 in the nation according to S&P+, which sounds about right. The defense is ranked 8th, which is pretty fair -- touting the #1 yardage ranking seems like a bit of a stretch given BC's competition level, but the Eagle D has obviously been very, very good. On special teams, BC is still ranked #114. Missing extra points will do that to you, I guess, though BC has been much improved on that fron the last few weeks.
This week’s opponent, Clemson, is #4 in the S&P+ rankings, thanks in large part to having the #3-ranked defense. The Tigers’ offense is #35.
As pretty much every ranking system will document, BC has three games left on the slate that are tall tasks: #4 Clemson, still-#5 Louisville, and #13 FSU.
Notably, Virginia Tech is #14 in the S&P+ right now — if this keeps up, S&P+ would certainly consider BC to have one of the nation’s toughest schedules in spite of how weak the nonconference slate is.
The ACC’s strength is reflected in the fact that another upcoming BC opponent, NC State, is #25. Miami (#10) rounds out the ACC’s presence in the Top 25.
Wake Forest tumbled down to #69 after their first loss of the season to NC State; their “2nd order wins” are listed as 2.9 compared to their 4 in real life, meaning the rankings system thinks their record is a bit lucky/soft.
The two other upcoming BC opponents ranked below them aside from Wake are Syracuse (#74) and UConn (#90).
At 3-2, in order to secure a bowl berth, BC will merely have to beat the three teams ranked below them by S&P+. Oh, and win two ACC games, which is two more than they’ve won in the last two seasons. Easy enough... right?