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130-team S&P+ rankings: Alabama, the surest thing in football? Well, I never

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Alabama remains No. 1 in S&P+, but USF, West Virginia, and Washington State are rising.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Four weeks into a given season, we never quite know what we think we know. Hot Team A is going to fall into a slump. Disappointing Team B will likely turn into what we expected. An injury is going to wreck Up-And-Comer C’s plans.

We do, however, know Bama. We always know Bama. The Crimson Tide have offensive flaws and aren’t nearly the pass-rushing force that they were a year ago.

They also just beat Vanderbilt by 59 points. Their fifth gear is still better than almost anybody else’s.

Below are this week’s S&P+ ratings. You can find full unit rankings (and a yearly archive) at Football Outsiders. (Also, if the chart below isn’t loading friendly on your mobile device, that Football Outsiders link should work.)

I am again including where each team would rank if there were no preseason projections involved. Predictive success requires inclusion of such projections — and in Week 4, S&P+ was over 60 percent successful against the spread for the third time this year — but I like including the non-projection rankings here. It both addresses a lot of questions people might have (“How is [Losing Team A] ranked so high???”) and gives you a better feel for which teams are trending up or down.

Week 5 S&P+

Team Rec. S&P+ Rk. Last Week Change Rk w/o preseason projection
Team Rec. S&P+ Rk. Last Week Change Rk w/o preseason projection
Alabama 4-0 31.1 1 1 0 1
Ohio State 3-1 24.9 2 3 1 5
Florida State 0-2 22.6 3 2 -1 88
Oklahoma 4-0 21.5 4 5 1 12
Wisconsin 3-0 21.5 5 8 3 7
Clemson 4-0 21.5 6 6 0 11
Penn State 4-0 21.3 7 4 -3 6
Washington 4-0 20.4 8 7 -1 4
Michigan 4-0 19.1 9 11 2 16
USC 4-0 18.4 10 10 0 28
Miami-FL 2-0 18.3 11 15 4 3
LSU 3-1 18.0 12 9 -3 32
Auburn 3-1 17.8 13 12 -1 26
Georgia 4-0 17.0 14 19 5 9
Oklahoma State 3-1 16.9 15 13 -2 10
Stanford 2-2 16.3 16 14 -2 31
TCU 4-0 16.0 17 16 -1 14
Louisville 3-1 15.2 18 20 2 36
Notre Dame 3-1 15.2 19 18 -1 22
Virginia Tech 4-0 13.3 20 25 5 19
Washington State 4-0 13.0 21 30 9 8
Ole Miss 2-1 12.8 22 22 0 34
Florida 2-1 12.3 23 21 -2 99
Mississippi State 3-1 11.8 24 17 -7 18
Texas 1-2 11.8 25 23 -2 62
Oregon 3-1 11.3 26 24 -2 20
South Florida 4-0 10.0 27 46 19 15
Kansas State 2-1 9.8 28 29 1 24
Georgia Tech 2-1 9.5 29 32 3 39
Texas A&M 3-1 9.1 30 26 -4 68
Tennessee 3-1 8.8 31 31 0 50
NC State 3-1 8.7 32 27 -5 44
Utah 4-0 8.5 33 37 4 29
Houston 2-1 8.4 34 33 -1 30
Wake Forest 4-0 8.0 35 36 1 17
Arkansas 1-2 7.6 36 35 -1 56
Michigan State 2-1 6.9 37 39 2 27
Boise State 2-2 6.7 38 28 -10 61
Minnesota 3-0 6.4 39 48 9 25
Northwestern 2-1 6.4 40 43 3 65
UCLA 2-2 6.0 41 34 -7 64
Nebraska 2-2 5.9 42 44 2 67
Iowa 3-1 5.8 43 42 -1 41
Appalachian State 2-2 5.7 44 51 7 40
Indiana 2-1 5.7 45 53 8 75
Duke 4-0 5.5 46 49 3 37
West Virginia 3-1 5.5 47 58 11 35
North Carolina 1-3 5.3 48 45 -3 69
Iowa State 2-1 5.2 49 52 3 43
Colorado 3-1 5.2 50 41 -9 54
Syracuse 2-2 4.5 51 50 -1 49
Baylor 0-4 4.4 52 40 -12 87
Colorado State 2-2 4.2 53 57 4 71
Toledo 3-1 4.0 54 47 -7 58
Texas Tech 3-0 3.8 55 55 0 23
Memphis 3-0 3.7 56 60 4 76
Vanderbilt 3-1 3.4 57 38 -19 55
South Carolina 3-1 3.4 58 54 -4 82
Central Florida 2-0 3.3 59 67 8 2
Arizona 2-2 3.0 60 59 -1 52
San Diego State 4-0 2.9 61 61 0 70
Virginia 3-1 2.8 62 68 6 42
Kentucky 3-1 2.1 63 56 -7 85
SMU 3-1 1.9 64 72 8 33
California 3-1 1.5 65 62 -3 83
Maryland 2-1 1.3 66 63 -3 47
Western Kentucky 2-2 1.1 67 66 -1 93
UTSA 3-0 0.9 68 75 7 13
Troy 3-1 0.3 69 73 4 60
Arizona State 2-2 0.3 70 65 -5 84
Southern Miss 2-1 -0.1 71 70 -1 21
Purdue 2-2 -0.2 72 71 -1 38
Navy 3-0 -0.2 73 76 3 51
Utah State 2-2 -0.6 74 80 6 77
Miami-OH 2-2 -1.3 75 83 8 48
Missouri 1-3 -1.4 76 64 -12 110
Northern Illinois 2-1 -1.9 77 77 0 57
Western Michigan 2-2 -2.3 78 91 13 86
Rutgers 1-3 -2.9 79 82 3 63
Arkansas State 1-2 -3.1 80 79 -1 74
Ohio 3-1 -3.5 81 89 8 46
Florida Atlantic 1-3 -3.5 82 88 6 72
Cincinnati 2-2 -3.8 83 78 -5 102
Pittsburgh 1-3 -3.8 84 69 -15 124
Wyoming 2-2 -3.9 85 84 -1 95
Eastern Michigan 2-1 -4.3 86 93 7 59
Tulane 2-2 -4.8 87 96 9 81
Illinois 2-1 -5.0 88 90 2 97
BYU 1-3 -5.0 89 85 -4 123
Ball State 2-2 -5.1 90 95 5 78
Louisiana Tech 2-2 -5.2 91 86 -5 103
Air Force 1-2 -5.4 92 94 2 45
Oregon State 1-3 -5.4 93 92 -1 117
Tulsa 1-3 -5.5 94 87 -7 109
North Texas 2-2 -5.8 95 103 8 66
Middle Tennessee 2-2 -5.9 96 99 3 96
New Mexico State 2-2 -5.9 97 107 10 53
Temple 2-2 -5.9 98 74 -24 122
New Mexico 2-2 -6.1 99 101 2 73
Boston College 1-3 -6.3 100 81 -19 113
Marshall 2-1 -7.3 101 98 -3 92
Army 2-2 -7.5 102 102 0 90
Central Michigan 2-2 -8.1 103 97 -6 105
South Alabama 1-3 -8.5 104 106 2 94
Hawaii 2-2 -9.2 105 105 0 106
Idaho 2-2 -9.3 106 114 8 91
Old Dominion 2-2 -10.2 107 100 -7 115
Massachusetts 0-5 -10.2 108 110 2 108
Florida International 2-1 -10.3 109 115 6 107
Fresno State 1-2 -10.3 110 108 -2 100
Kansas 1-3 -10.4 111 111 0 101
UNLV 1-2 -11.2 112 104 -8 89
Buffalo 2-2 -12.1 113 122 9 79
UL-Monroe 1-2 -12.9 114 123 9 98
Coastal Carolina 1-2 -12.9 115 109 -6 114
Georgia State 1-2 -13.0 116 120 4 121
UL-Lafayette 1-3 -13.4 117 116 -1 118
Bowling Green 0-4 -13.4 118 113 -5 129
Nevada 0-4 -14.3 119 117 -2 119
San Jose State 1-4 -14.8 120 112 -8 125
Akron 1-3 -14.8 121 119 -2 112
East Carolina 0-3 -15.2 122 121 -1 136
Connecticut 1-1 -15.3 123 124 1 104
Georgia Southern 0-3 -15.8 124 118 -6 134
UAB 2-2 -16.0 125 127 2 80
Rice 1-3 -18.4 126 128 2 126
Texas State 1-3 -18.8 127 130 3 111
UTEP 0-4 -19.3 128 125 -3 131
Charlotte 0-4 -20.6 129 129 0 128
Kent State 1-3 -20.8 130 126 -4 133

Preseason projections are doing strange things to the numbers right now, simply because some teams have played two games (which means their ratings are still 80 percent based on preseason projections) and others have played four (50 percent).

That’s how Florida State (88th without projections) remains third and UCF (second without projections) is only 59th despite two dominant performances. It’s still early no matter what, but for some teams, it’s even earlier.

Top movers (good)

NCAA Football: Nevada at Washington State
Washington State destroyed Nevada on Saturday.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
  1. USF (up 19 spots, from 46th to 27th)
  2. Western Michigan (up 13, from 91st to 78th)
  3. West Virginia (up 11, from 58th to 47th)
  4. New Mexico State (up 10, from 107th to 97th)
  5. Washington State (up nine, from 30th to 21st)
  6. Minnesota (up nine, from 48th to 39th)
  7. Tulane (up nine, from 96th to 87th)
  8. Buffalo (up nine, from 122nd to 113th)
  9. ULM (up nine, from 123rd to 114th)

A couple of years ago, Washington State ranked just 67th in S&P+ despite a nine-win season. The Cougars had benefited from more than three points per game of turnovers luck and won five games by one possession, but Wazzu fans on Twitter weren’t impressed with how unimpressed S&P+ was by their team. Go figure.

So far in 2017, Wazzu ranks 21st in S&P+, eighth without preseason projections. We’ll see if the Cougs can keep it up, but at least this proves that S&P+ isn’t specifically formulated to underestimate orthodox air raid teams, huh?

By the way, if you’re wondering how WVU moved up despite struggling to put Kansas away on Saturday, know that because of a lack of returning production, the Mountaineers’ preseason projections were terribly unfriendly. Simply phasing them out offsets the damage WVU thought about doing to itself in Lawrence.

Top movers (bad)

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Baylor
Baylor threw a scare into Oklahoma.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Temple (down 24 spots, from 74th to 98th)
  2. Vanderbilt (down 19, from 38th to 57th)
  3. Boston College (down 19, from 81st to 100th)
  4. Pitt (down 15, from 69th to 84th)
  5. Missouri (down 12, from 64th to 76th)
  6. Baylor (down 12, from 40th to 52nd)
  7. Boise State (down 10, from 28th to 38th)
  8. Colorado (down nine, from 41st to 50th)
  9. UNLV (down eight, from 104th to 112th)
  10. San Jose State (down eight, from 112th to 120th)

The less said about Temple’s hapless performance against USF, the better.

Everything I said about WVU can also be applied to Baylor here. Matt Rhule’s Bears played like a real football team for the first time all year and threw a scare into Oklahoma, but they were being propped up by positive preseason numbers, so phasing them out offset anything good they did against the Sooners.