College football games, thankfully, are played on the field and not on the computer. However, with camp not starting until the first week of August, there isn’t a whole lot of on the field football to write about. Metrics are important for both predicting wins and gambling (I don’t do the latter but I attempt the former).
My favorite metrics guru is Bill Connelly, formerly of SB Nation and now of ESPN, does a fabulous job of balancing metrics via his SP+ formula. Bill C’s computers are the only thing that can come close to battling Las Vegas on a weekly basis.
Bill breaks his preseason SP+ down by three categories: returning production, recruiting, and recent history.
Returning production for 2021
In Bill C’s preseason SP+, returning production is part of the metric that determines his preseason rankings. It’s not the only factor, but it is a factor that has to be examined. Bill C assumes what we all hope, that D’Eriq King will be behind center all season for the Rhett Lashlee offense in 2021.
Miami is listed as 3rd in returning production according to Bill C and his piece for ESPN+. The ‘Canes return 91% of their production including being 1st on offense (King, Cam’Ron Harris, Mike Harley, Will Mallory) and 12th on defense (hurts to lose Jaelan Phillips, and Quincy Roche).
After Miami, Georgia Tech is 13th in returning production (O 21st and D 23rd), Wake Forest is 18th (8th and 54th), North Carolina is 32nd (47th and 28th), App State is 40th, NCSU 44th, Pitt 50th, Florida State 53rd, Michigan State 64th, Virginia Tech 72nd, Virginia 77th, and Duke 104th, Alabama 110th (55% production).
SP+ final rankings in 2020
When it comes to the final SP+ rankings of the college football season per Bill C’s SP+ of course Alabama finished ranked 1st. North Carolina finished 12th, Miami finished 20th (33rd in offense, 31st on defense), App State 24th, Virginia Tech 27th, Pitt 41st, NCSU 54th, UVA 55th, Michigan State 75th, Georgia Tech 75th, Florida State 85th, and Duke 104th.
Bill C’s metrics use the final rankings to an extent in his upcoming preseason rankings. It’s not the only factor- as he also includes recruiting and recent history. But Miami finished 2020 ranked three spots higher than Oklahoma State, a Cowboys team that knocked off Miami in the Cheez-It Bowl.
SP+ preseason rankings 2021
Of course we get into the upcoming season’s metrics, too. Bill C’s SP+ preseason rankings have been up since February 2021. Of course returning champ Alabama is 1st in the SP+ (4th on offense, 4th on defense). To wrap up the Top5, the Tide are followed by Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Oregon, respectively. The Miami Hurricanes are 8th in the country (11th on offense, 13th on defense).
‘Canes Strength of Schedule
For the rest of Miami’s schedule: UNC is 10th, App State 35th, Virginia Tech 36th, Pitt 43rd, NCSU 45th, Georgia Tech 48th, UVA 56th, Michigan State 59th, FSU 61st, and Duke is 102nd.
Is the Miami schedule tough? Not really outside of Alabama and UNC. To not have another top25 team on the schedule is a bit disappointing for the ACC and the Coastal in general. If any team was to sneak into the top25 in the Coastal it would be Pitt. Pitt has a solid defense, upgraded their coaching staff on offense by hiring Brennan Marion, and Kenny Pickett is back for his 100th season for the Panthers.
Do any of the top5 teams NOT have a 3rd top25 team on the schedule?
1- Alabama plays: Miami, Florida, Texas A&M, Ole Miss.
2- Clemson plays: UGA... wow, what a weak ass schedule.
3- Oklahoma plays: Iowa State, Texas (also weak).
4- Ohio State plays: Oregon, Penn State, Michigan.
5- Oregon plays: Ohio State, Washington, Utah, UCLA.
If Miami wants to make the playoff they must... beat UNC and upset Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. A loss against Alabama would hurt, but an upset of Clemson could bounce the Hurricanes back into the College Football Playoff picture, especially if Clemson is undefeated when the teams meet in Charlotte.