Penn State may not be ranked in any national polls (which is 100% correct, they should be nowhere close to any of them), but they are ranked in a different format.
For those of you unaware of what the S&P+ ratings are, they are a rating system developed by SB Nation's own Bill Connelly. There's no, truly easy way to explain how these rankings are calculated, so I'll just try to give you a short explanation.
These rankings are made by compiling a team's success rate and its equivalent points per play. To look at those two things, Bill uses what he calls the "Five Factors of College Football". Those factors are efficiency, explosiveness, field position, finishing drives and turnovers. To use these factors as a means of ranking teams, he uses Second-Order Wins (2ndO Wins), S&P+ rating, Off. S&P+ rating, Def. S&P+ rating, Strength of Schedule rating (SOS) and Weighted S&P+ rating.
To learn more about how Bill calculates his ratings, and to see the full rankings, head over to Football Outsiders. For now though, let's take a look at the top 25.
Yes, that's Penn State sitting ahead of Texas A&M, Iowa and Ohio State, not to mention other highly ranked teams who sit outside of the S&P+ top 25, such as Georgia, Northwestern, Michigan State and Baylor. However, there are also teams like Louisville and Boston College ranked ahead of the Nittany Lions.
Unsurprisingly, Penn State's defense is shouldering the load, ranking as No. 16 in the country, while the offense is lagging behind a big at No. 57. I'll let you research a little more on your own to piece through the rest of their rankings and what they mean, but here's a quick look at where Penn State's past and future opponents currently sit in the rankings.
|Opponent||Game Result||S&P+ Rating||Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating|
|San Diego State||WIN (37-21)||91||118||50|
So essentially, Penn State is going to be up against some very statistically-tough defenses when Ohio State, Illinois, Northwestern and Michigan come to town. Does that mean that these defenses are sure-things? Absolutely not. Just like it's not a sure-thing that Penn State is actually the 20th best team in the country. But the stats are interesting to look at nonetheless.
For a full look at Penn State's advanced statistical standing, check the Football Study Hall Penn State profile periodically throughout the season. If y'all enjoyed this, share it on Facebook, and let us know in the comments, and we can do an advanced stats feature each week, in addition to our normal coverage.
But for now, how does all of this make you feel, Penn State fans? Do you feel more confident in this team heading into the homecoming showdown with Indiana (did we mention we're favored in that game)?