Post-spring college football SP+ rankings and takeaways

The Fighting Irish remain a top-10 team in the latest SP+ projections. Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire

And so we begin. My annual college football series typically starts in February, but the effects of the spring portal window -- namely, that I didn't want to write a preview that would be outdated within days -- dictated that we wait a bit. But now it's time. Starting in a few days, we'll preview one conference per week.

First, however, we must update the numbers. I released initial 2024 SP+ projections in early February, as is customary, but now that almost every team has released official 2024 rosters (still waiting on you, Air Force and Coastal Carolina) and the spring portal dance has mostly slowed to a crawl, it's time to do it again.

Below are updated SP+ projections for the coming season. A quick reminder: Preseason projections are based on three factors.

1. Returning production. The returning production numbers are based on rosters I have updated as much as possible to account for transfers and attrition. The combination of last year's SP+ ratings and adjustments based on returning production makes up more than half of the projections formula.

2. Recent recruiting. This piece informs us of the caliber of a team's potential replacements (and/or new stars) in the lineup. It is determined by the past few years of recruiting rankings in diminishing order (meaning the most recent class carries the most weight). This is also impacted by the recruiting rankings of incoming transfers, an acknowledgment that the art of roster management is now heavily dictated by the transfer portal. This piece makes up about one-third of the projections formula.

3. Recent history. Using a sliver of information from the previous four seasons or so gives us a good measure of overall program health. It stands to reason that a team that has played well for one year is less likely to duplicate that effort than a team that has been good for years on end (and vice versa), right?

(One other reminder: SP+ is a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency. It is a predictive measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football, not a résumé ranking, and along those lines, these projections aren't intended to be a guess at what the AP Top 25 will look like at the end of the season. These are simply early offseason power rankings based on the information we have been able to gather to date.)