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Analyzing the ACC’s pre-season SP+ rankings

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Bill Connelly has released his pre-season SP+ rankings, the most reliable rankings in college football

Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

ESPN’s Bill Connelly has released his pre-season SP+ rankings (click here for the full article). The SP+ out scores the Las Vegas odds makers, who are typically the best predictors of college football results. What are the SP+ pre-season rankings based off of? First, Bill calculates for returning production. Then, he calculates in the past two recruiting classes heavily, and dips into some older recruiting to a lesser degree. Bill rounds out the SP+ pre-season rankings using a program’s recent success (or failure).

Returning Production

So how does Bill calculate returning production? It’s a lot to take in (read the full article here). Long story short- quarterbacks and receivers are worth 64% of returning production, while the offensive line is worth 29.5%, and running yards are only worth 6.5% in the formula.

On defense, the defensive line is worth only 5% of returning production, the secondary is worth 37%, and the full defense is worth 21%. I’m assuming that means linebackers are worth 37%, too, but he doesn’t disclose. Full defense is calculated through tackles for loss (15%), passes defensed (33%).

So which ACC programs have the most returning production? Georgia Tech is 2nd in the nation, Virginia Tech is 6th, Louisville 13th, UNC 18th, NC State 23rd, Florida State 27th, Pitt 48th, Boston College 53rd, UVA 56th, Duke 65th, Clemson 96th, Miami 97th, Syracuse 106th, and Wake Forest is 111th.

The losses of Jarren Williams, K.J. Osborn, and Deejay Dallas definitely stymie the Hurricanes offensive returning production by taking 34 touchdowns with them. On defense, Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, Jonathan Garvin, Trevon Hill, and Trajan Bandy lower the production numbers as they’ve taken nearly 50 tackles for loss and 17 passes defensed off the field.

SP+ Rankings

Of course, with the amount of blue chip players they’ve been pulling in, the return of Travis Etienne and Trevor Lawrence, and the fact that they’re the Clemson Tigers- Dabo’s squad is ranked 3rd in the pre-season SP+ rankings. That Clemson disrespect is still going strong. With sorta-ACC team Notre Dame at 12th, the next true-ACC program is UNC at 17th. The Tar Heels are essentially predicted to win the Coastal in Mack Brown’s second year in Chapel Hill.

Our beloved Hurricanes are 23rd- ranked 63rd on offense and 9th on defense. FSU is 26th, Virginia Tech is 32nd, Louisville 41st, Pitt 42nd, UVA 44th, Georgia Tech 58th, NC State 62nd, Duke 69th, Boston College 71st, Wake Forest 81st, and Syracuse is 95th.

Kansas is the worst ranked SP+ Power 5 team at 113th, while Alabama and Ohio State are number one and two in Bill’s rankings. The Georgia Bulldogs and Penn State Nittany Lions are 4th and 5th, returning champs the LSU Tigers are 6th, while the rival Florida Gators are 7th.

So what does this really mean?

The 2019 pre-season top four went Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, and LSU, respectively; while the Ohio State Buckeyes were 7th. Miami was ranked 20th before the season and finished 33rd. In 2018, the ‘Canes finished the season ranked 27th after starting ranked 13th in Bill C’s team preview (click here).

Bill’s computer definitely favors Manny Diaz as a 6-7 squad probably wasn’t the 33rd best program in the country, especially after losing to 62nd ranked Louisiana Tech and 9th ranked FIU. Can the hiring of Rhett Lashlee as offensive coordinator, new placekicker, and transferring in of D’Eriq King at quarterback bump The U’s 63rd ranked offense? It damn well better as ‘Canes fans can’t afford another piddling season of sitting around .500 football.

While the spring football game hasn’t been announced, the Hurricanes do start spring practice on February 29th- a Saturday of all days. It will be exciting to see how King and the receivers mesh, if there’s any improvement on the offensive line, and the new linebackers as well as Quincy Roche lining up opposite of Gregory Rousseau. Once again, Manny Diaz has the talent on campus in Coral Gables, this season it’s going to show if he’s the right guy for the job or another in the long line of failed head coaching hires at Miami.