College football trends to monitor and how they might impact betting lines

The Seminoles' run game has helped them reel off three straight wins after starting 0-4. Melina Myers/USA TODAY Sports

Eight weeks into the 2021 college football season, we're to the point where the team you are could be quite different from the team you were at the beginning. Maybe injuries have taken a toll. Maybe you started the season with the wrong guys in the lineup and have since corrected your errors.

For a system like my SP+ ratings, November can be a very volatile month for that very reason -- it's judging your team based, in part, on some impressions that might not be relevant anymore. (This is always an issue, but obviously it was an extreme issue in 2020.) It still tends to fare pretty well overall, but it could under- or oversell certain teams' abilities for the rest of the year.

It's useful, then, to keep an eye out for trends. They're only so helpful in college football because of the ridiculously small sample involved -- three good or bad games would never be considered a trend in a sport with, say, a 162- or 82-game regular season, and it would only mean so much for even a 30-game sport like college basketball. But it's still worthwhile information to monitor, especially if you can glean why a change is taking place and what it might mean for betting lines.

With that in mind, let's walk through how teams' SP+ ratings have shifted over the last month, comparing Week 9's current ratings to Week 5's. Whose stock has risen by a particular amount, whose has fallen, and why?

Largest offensive improvement

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers: up 7.2 points*