clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

5-year rankings: Auburn’s trending up, Florida’s trending down, and Bama still rules

New, comments

128 FBS teams ranked by how they’ve performed over the last five years as a whole.

Alabama v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Feb. 9, I will post this year’s initial S&P+ projections for the 2018 season. The rankings are primarily a mix of three factors: returning production, recent history, and recent recruiting.

That means to figure out who’s going to be good next year, we ask three questions: Who’s been good? Who’s returning their good players? And how good is the talent coming in? People overreact to small pieces of information — bowl results and whatnot — but S&P+ is in a way designed to underreact.

As a lead-up to the projections, we’re looking at each individual factor and what it has to tell us.

  • On Wednesday, we looked at returning production, which said exciting things about teams like Michigan State, Mississippi State, and Clemson and foreboding things about programs like Louisville, Colorado, and LSU.
  • After National Signing Day, we’ll look at shifts in recruiting.
  • In this post, let’s look at recent performance.

Here’s a look at each team’s updated five-year S&P+ history.

This isn’t the same version that goes into the projections — there is extra weight given to more recent seasons — but it sets the table. I’m also including some trend information. You can also look at last year’s five-year history figure to see whose prospects are rising and falling.

(Note: Two FBS newcomers — second-year Coastal Carolina and first-year Liberty — are omitted, so only 128 of 130 FBS teams are accounted for. I treated UAB’s averages as if the Blazers were not on hiatus for two seasons, so their five-year averages include the rest of the seasons in that range: 2013, 2014, and 2017.)

5-year S&P+ rankings

Team 2013-17 S&P+ 2013-17 ranking Change since 2012-16
Team 2013-17 S&P+ 2013-17 ranking Change since 2012-16
Alabama 25.8 1 -1.7
Ohio State 22.4 2 1.6
Clemson 19.8 3 1.2
Auburn 17.3 4 3.4
Florida State 17.0 5 -1.8
Oklahoma 16.4 6 -0.5
LSU 16.0 7 -1.3
Wisconsin 14.5 8 0.5
Stanford 14.4 9 -2.0
USC 14.2 10 -0.9
Michigan 13.6 11 -0.7
Washington 13.5 12 2.2
Louisville 12.8 13 1.2
Ole Miss 12.4 14 -1.6
Georgia 12.3 15 -0.2
Notre Dame 12.2 16 -2.1
Mississippi State 11.7 17 0.3
Penn State 11.2 18 1.5
Michigan State 11.2 19 -1.0
TCU 10.9 20 0.8
Miami-FL 10.6 21 0.9
Baylor 9.9 22 -3.6
Texas A&M 9.9 23 -4.2
Oregon 9.7 24 -3.5
Oklahoma State 9.6 25 -0.2
UCLA 9.4 26 -1.8
Boise State 9.0 27 -0.6
Florida 8.9 28 -4.9
Utah 8.6 29 1.6
Virginia Tech 8.4 30 0.0
Arkansas 6.9 31 -2.1
Missouri 6.8 32 -0.2
Georgia Tech 6.5 33 -2.1
Tennessee 6.4 34 -2.8
Toledo 6.4 35 1.7
Pittsburgh 6.4 36 -1.4
Iowa 6.2 37 0.6
Arizona State 5.9 38 -1.3
BYU 5.8 39 -3.6
North Carolina 5.8 40 -1.1
NC State 5.7 41 1.9
Kansas State 5.6 42 -3.5
Texas 5.5 43 -1.9
Memphis 5.2 44 2.9
Western Kentucky 4.7 45 0.2
Houston 4.5 46 2.2
Appalachian State 4.5 47 1.6
Indiana 4.3 48 1.7
West Virginia 4.3 49 -1.0
South Carolina 4.0 50 -2.7
Nebraska 3.9 51 -3.6
Utah State 3.7 52 -2.4
Navy 3.5 53 1.4
Minnesota 3.5 54 -0.6
Arizona 3.2 55 -0.9
San Diego State 3.1 56 0.5
Washington State 3.0 57 3.0
Northwestern 2.9 58 -0.3
Texas Tech 2.5 59 -1.1
Boston College 1.8 60 1.5
Duke 1.7 61 0.6
Colorado State 1.5 62 3.0
Marshall 1.1 63 2.3
California 0.9 64 -1.1
Central Florida 0.9 65 1.5
South Florida 0.6 66 2.2
Temple 0.3 67 1.9
Arkansas State 0.3 68 0.7
Virginia 0.0 69 0.9
Cincinnati -0.4 70 -2.1
Northern Illinois -0.5 71 -0.1
Western Michigan -0.6 72 2.3
Syracuse -0.7 73 -1.9
Iowa State -0.9 74 -0.1
Louisiana Tech -1.5 75 -0.7
Wake Forest -1.5 76 2.9
Colorado -1.7 77 2.6
Kentucky -1.7 78 0.0
Georgia Southern -1.9 79 -3.2
Air Force -1.9 80 1.5
Maryland -2.0 81 0.4
Bowling Green -2.2 82 -0.6
Purdue -2.5 83 1.3
Vanderbilt -2.9 84 -0.9
Oregon State -3.1 85 -5.7
Ohio -3.3 86 3.3
East Carolina -3.3 87 -1.6
Illinois -3.3 88 -0.3
Middle Tennessee -3.6 89 1.6
Fresno State -3.9 90 -0.2
Florida Atlantic -3.9 91 4.7
Southern Miss -4.5 92 3.2
Troy -4.8 93 1.9
South Alabama -5.1 94 3.3
UTSA -5.7 95 4.1
UAB -5.7 96 4.2
Central Michigan -6.4 97 2.5
Tulsa -6.4 98 -2.6
Wyoming -6.7 99 2.6
UL-Lafayette -7.2 100 -1.4
Nevada -7.5 101 -0.7
North Texas -7.6 102 1.9
Rutgers -7.8 103 -1.5
Tulane -7.8 104 2.4
Akron -7.9 105 1.1
Ball State -8.3 106 -3.3
SMU -8.4 107 -0.1
New Mexico -8.5 108 1.5
UNLV -9.2 109 1.5
Buffalo -9.4 110 1.9
San Jose State -9.5 111 -5.5
Rice -9.9 112 -1.0
Old Dominion -9.9 113 0.0
Hawaii -10.5 114 0.6
Connecticut -11.0 115 -1.5
Miami-OH -11.3 116 2.7
Kent State -12.2 117 -3.3
Kansas -12.4 118 -2.2
Georgia State -12.5 119 2.0
UL-Monroe -12.5 120 -0.2
Army -12.7 121 3.3
Massachusetts -12.7 122 3.8
Florida International -13.4 123 0.4
Eastern Michigan -13.6 124 2.1
Texas State -15.0 125 -0.7
New Mexico State -16.0 126 3.9
UTEP -16.1 127 -1.6
Charlotte -17.9 128 1.6

Alabama’s five-year ranking fell during the odd, parity-filled 2017 season.

The Tide saw their lowest S&P+ ranking since 2008...and won the national title anyway.

This was a reset year for Nick Saban’s program, one we’ll either look back on as the beginning of a downward trend or a simple blip. The symbolism of the Tide winning the national title with a freshman (Tua Tagovailoa) throwing to another freshman (Devonta Smith) suggests the latter, but it’s something to watch, especially with Bama’s recruiting stranglehold loosening.

Auburn rising?

Using the five-year history serves a statistical purpose, but the trend that we’re talking about here is basically comparing a team’s 2017 performance (which is part of the new five-year average) to its 2012 performance (which is no longer a part of the average).

Auburn has established a steady level under Gus Malzahn. The Tigers haven’t finished the last few seasons as strong as Auburn fans would have liked — they lost their last two games of 2017, three of four in 2016, three of six in 2015, and four of five in 2014. But their five-year performance is still the fourth-best in FBS.

The combination of AU’s consistency and the fact that the Tigers were awful in 2012 (the last year of the Gene Chizik era) puts Malzahn’s program atop this list of “rising” P5 teams.

Here are your top 10 improving power conference teams:

  1. Auburn (plus-3.4 points)
  2. Washington State (plus-3.0)
  3. Wake Forest (plus-2.9)
  4. Colorado (plus-2.6)
  5. Washington (plus-2.2)
  6. NC State (plus-1.9)
  7. Indiana (plus-1.7)
  8. Ohio State (plus-1.6)
  9. Utah (plus-1.6)
  10. Boston College (plus-1.5)

Not surprisingly, FAU’s brilliant, out-of-nowhere 2017 puts the Owls atop the overall improvement list.

Go (down), Gators!

In 2012, Will Muschamp’s brand of Florida Murderball hit its peak. The Gators went 11-2 and, despite a Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville, finished third in S&P+ and first in Def. S&P+.

In the current five-year averages, that season was cycled out and replaced by a nightmarish 2017 that saw the Gators finish 4-7 and rank 86th in S&P+. Needless to say, that does bad things to one’s five-year averages.

Here are the 10 P5 teams that saw their averages fall the most:

  1. Oregon State (minus-5.7)
  2. Florida (minus-4.9)
  3. Texas A&M (minus-4.2)
  4. Baylor (minus-3.6)
  5. Nebraska (minus-3.6)
  6. Kansas State (minus-3.5)
  7. Oregon (minus-3.5)
  8. Tennessee (minus-2.8)
  9. South Carolina (minus-2.7)
  10. Kansas (minus-2.2)

Oregon State traded a 9-4, top-20 campaign in 2012 (Mike Riley’s last excellent Beavers team) for a nightmarish, 1-11 collapse in 2017.

But the names after OSU’s are interesting. Florida and Texas A&M made coaching changes after changes in fortune, Baylor’s transition from Art Briles to Matt Rhule was all sorts of bumpy, and the team Riley left Corvallis for (Nebraska) is starting over as well.

Georgia moved down slightly despite nearly beating Alabama for a national title because the year 2017 replaced happened to be a year in which...Georgia nearly beat Alabama for a national title shot.

As always, this list reminds us that college football’s top tier is pretty defined.

Your last three national champions — Alabama (2015, 2017), Ohio State (2014), and Clemson (2016) — lead, followed by the two teams that played for the 2013 title (Auburn and Florida State). Oklahoma, your two-time CFP participant and winner of the last three Big 12 titles, rounds out the top six.

Still, there are below-the-surface shifts in college football’s balance of power, especially for a pair of 2000s powers.

Over the last five years, Florida has performed at a lower level than UCLA and Boise State, while Texas has failed to reach a mark set by Arizona State and NC State. It’s hard to fight half-decade trends; we’ll see if new UF coach Dan Mullen or second-year Texas coach Tom Herman are up for the task.