College football SP+ rankings after Week 3

    Bill Connelly is a staff writer for ESPN.com.

Alabama remains the best team in the country according to the SP+ ratings, but following a narrow 31-29 win over a spirited Florida, the Crimson Tide’s advantage over the rest of the field continues to shrink. This season has featured a large number of surprises and upsets, and even Nick Saban and Bama nearly got sucked into the undertow. The twists and turns 2021 has provided thus far might only be the beginning.

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.

It is, as always, important to note that SP+ is 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.

(Note: Early-season data parsing issues have rendered data collection a slow process. Consequently, not every team’s Week 3 game has been compiled just yet. The following Week 3 games are missing from the sample used for Sunday’s update: Ole Miss-Tulane, West Virginia-Virginia Tech, Marshall-ECU, Appalachian State-Elon, San Jose State-Hawaii, Rutgers-Delaware, Louisiana Monroe-Jackson State and South Alabama-Alcorn State. The records for these teams reflect their record heading into Week 3. The rankings and records will be updated in full Monday, once data collection is complete.)

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