ESPN explains why Washington is bound to bounce back in 2022
Bill Connelly’s SP+ system is one of the most respected college football predictive models in the market. His system is built around the five most important factors that influence football games and checks personal biases at the loading screen.
In a recent piece for ESPN, he broke down college football’s most likely bounce-back candidates in the new year—teams who fell hard on their face in 2021 who should recover in 2022.
Washington is among those teams.
Like USC, the Huskies are an easy pick because of the depths to which they fell in 2021. Kalen DeBoer has moved up from Fresno to take over a team that finished in the SP+ top 20 for five straight seasons (2016-20) before disintegrating to 4-8 and 83rd in SP+ last year.
The defensive front seven should be dynamite with tackle Tuli Letuligasenoa, edge rushers Zion Tupuola-Fetui (now healthy after a 2021 Achilles injury) and former five-star recruit Sav’ell Smalls and linebacker transfers Cam Bright (Pitt) and Kris Moll (UAB). And the offense probably can’t get any worse after a massive youth movement. Quarterback Dylan Morris and receivers Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Taj Davis — all sophomores — return, the line boasts at least two all-conference candidates and DeBoer brought in plenty of competition via the transfer portal. Even if this team isn’t ready to challenge Oregon in the Pac-12 North, it should absolutely rebound to at least top-50 caliber play.
Connelly’s system presents its data as adjusted points per game. In preseason SP+ projections, Washington is ranked 54th nationally, expected to be 5.0 points better than the average team on a neutral field.
At the end of the 2021 season, Washington ranked 83rd in SP+, viewed as 0.7 points worse than the average team on a neutral field. That was a year removed from a top-25 finish and an SP+ rating of 14.3. That’s a 15-point difference year-over-year.
As he’s been doing this for years and years, there’s a ton of historical context that comes with his model. He writes that between 2016 and 2020, 66 teams regressed by at least 10 adjusted points per game in SP+. Among them, 60% improved the following season and 35% improved by at least five points per game.
Washington begins the turnaround under head coach Kalen DeBoer at home against Kent State on Sept. 3.