And now we wait. After a manic Championship Weekend that saw four upsets in 10 conference title games - and prompted maybe the College Football Playoff committee's hardest set of decisions in its 10-year history - the dust will settle until we see most FBS teams (sans Army and Navy) again. But when play resumes, we can confidently say one thing: Michigan is the national title favorite.
Despite an increasingly unconvincing offense, Jim Harbaugh's Wolverines rank a comfortable first in this week's SP+ rankings. Their top-ranked defense, combined with Georgia's sudden bout with mortality, increased the Wolverines' lead over the FBS field. Now comes the hard part: actually living up to their ratings in the College Football Playoff for the first time in three tries.
Below are this week's SP+ rankings. What is SP+? In a single sentence, it's a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency. I created the system at Football Outsiders in 2008, and as my experience with both college football and its stats has grown, I have made quite a few tweaks to the system.
SP+ is indeed intended to be predictive and forward-facing. It is not a résumé ranking that gives credit for big wins or particularly brave scheduling -- no good predictive system is. It is simply a measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football. If you're lucky or unimpressive in a win, your rating will probably fall. If you're strong and unlucky in a loss, it will probably rise.
Here are the full rankings: