USC, Oregon among biggest risers in updated SP+ projections
USC and Oregon saw two of the largest jumps of any team in the country in Bill Connelly’s updated SP+ numbers, released by ESPN on Monday.
The Trojans rose up 13 spots to 51st nationally in the projections, which Connelly noted aren’t his final preseason set. SP+ will get one more update in August before the actual season begins. Oregon rose eight spots, up to No. 24 nationally.
Here are the updated Pac-12 rankings as SP+ sees it, with national ranking in parenthesis. Connelly’s ratings can be interpreted as how many points better or worse a team is on a neutral field than the average:
- Utah 16.6 (12th)
- Oregon 13.8 (24th)
- UCLA 9.2 (41st)
- Arizona State 9.1 (42nd)
- Oregon State 6.3 (50th)
- USC 5.9 (51st)
- Washington 5.0 (54th)
- Washington State 1.0 (69th)
- Cal -0.5 (74th)
- Stanford -1.0 (77th)
- Arizona -7.6 (96th)
- Colorado -8.1 (100th)
For anyone unsure of what Connelly’s SP+ system is, here’s how he describes it:
“It’s 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.”
The three areas that serve as the foundation for Connelly’s numbers include returning production, recent recruiting success, and recent on-field performance. This year, the model factored incoming transfers into the returning production. The Trojans fare well in two of the three, but as Connelly notes, SP+ was very down on USC at the end of last season.
The Trojans closed at 82nd nationally in Connelly’s final postseason rankings, ahead of only Washington, Arizona, Stanford, and Colorado in the Pac-12.
While many expect USC to be significantly improved in 2022 under Lincoln Riley—and Connelly wrote he expects the Trojans to be a top-10 team in the first AP poll—SP+ is significantly more “show me, don’t tell me” than most human polls.
The other big mover was Arizona State. The Sun Devils were 3.3 points worse than in February, a dip that dropped them 11 spots. That can be attributed to all the transfer portal departures the team has endured since the first set of numbers.
But while public perception is very cold on the Sun Devils, here’s were Connelly’s system is once again more modest in its reactive properties. ASU finished ahead of Oregon for second among Pac-12 teams in the final SP+ rankings for the 2021 season.