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Baylor Jumps Up to #25 in the Latest SP+ Rankings

NCAA Football: Stephen F. Austin at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Connelly, formerly of SBNation and now at ESPN, released his week 2 rankings several days ago. Of note was that Baylor managed to crack the top 25, an arbitrary number that college football fans and the college football playoff committee have determined has great meaning. The full rankings can be found here.

Here’s the the top of the rankings.

The Big 12 at this juncture has Oklahoma (7), Texas (24), Baylor (25), Oklahoma State (27), TCU (30), Iowa State (37), Texas Tech (39), Kansas State (41), West Virginia (78), Kansas (114).

If you’re unsure what SP+ is, fret not. Bill does a great job summarizing the system in the article:

The underlying statistics that go into formulating SP+ are what are really interesting. Here’s the box score from the game (thanks to Mark Seymour for tweeting at Bill getting him to share it): Note the explanations of the statistics at the bottom of the photo if you’re unsure what something means.

A Big Jump

Anyway, this is a large jump for Baylor. Despite a 7-6 record last year, they finished 67th (39th on offense, 85th on D, 41st special teams) in SP+, and were projected at 42nd this preseason.

A jump this big after two weeks is difficult to do. SP+ uses preseason projections as part of the data well into the season because they make the predictions more accurate (its a safeguard against the system overreacting to a couple of weeks). Currently, the preseason projections count for 80% of the ranking. Thus, Baylor has jumped 15 spots despite it’s preseason 42nd ranking holding it back significantly. In other words, Baylor has played probably more like a top 15 team so far, and remember, the rankings are opponent adjusted.

Basically all of Baylor’s improvement has come on defense, where they currently rank 45th. I imagine the preseason rankings were very unfavorable for the defense, so if Baylor continues to play well on D they will continue to rise.

Some Gifs

The Big 12 has begun to upload condensed games on youtube, making analyzing play much easier. I’ll be regularly cutting up some clips and sharing them on twitter this year. If this interests you, you can find them @Travis_Roeder.