The Coaches Poll and the AP Poll both had the Nittany Lions squarely in the top 10 of college football heading into the 2023 season, with both sets of rankings putting Penn State No. 7 in the country. Earlier today, ESPN’s Bill Connelly released his final SP+ rankings ahead of the impending season, and once again, the Nittany Lions are highly ranked, this time coming in at No. 6 overall.
FINAL 2023 SP+ PROJECTIONS— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) August 16, 2023
* Top 5: UGA, Ohio St, Mich, Bama, LSU. SHOCKING.
* Avg wins and SOS
* Red River back?
* SP+ hates fun
* A new (frustrating) world for G5s?
* Special teams and clock tweaks
* Border War wins returning productionhttps://t.co/USYYqq1Y97
As a reminder for what SP+ is, read from the man himself, Bill Connelly:
As covered in previous pieces, these are based on three primary factors: returning production (final rankings for which you can find at the bottom of this piece), recent recruiting and recent history. How good have you been recently? Whom do you have coming back? How good are the players replacing those you don’t have coming back? That’s loosely what we ask when we’re setting expectations for a team; it’s also what these projections attempt to do objectively, albeit with recent formula changes to account for college football’s transfer explosion.
As always: 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 same lines, these projections aren’t intended to be a guess at what the AP Top 25 will look like at the end of the year. These are simply early offseason power rankings based on the information we have been able to gather to date.
Penn State came in behind Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, and LSU, putting the Nittany Lions very much in the “major contender” sphere for a College Football Playoff berth. Right now, SP+ has the Penn State defense leading the way for the Nittany Lions, with the unit ranked as the No. 5 defense in the country. The offense, on the other hand, has some growth to do, with SP+ ranking them No. 22 overall.