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Tennessee Football Lands Top 15 in ESPN’s Analytical Rankings

Tennessee Football
Tennessee QB Joe Milton III. Photo By Jackson McCarter/ Rocky Top Insider.

While Tennessee has been out of the AP Top 20 for the past three weeks, the Volunteers do land higher in ESPN’s top analytical statistics with Bill Connelly’s post-Week 5 SP+ rankings.

The AP Top 25 rankings are constructed from more than 60 sportswriters from around the country that build a Top 25 and are averaged together in order to get the final Top 25 poll for that week.

The SP+ poll, though, is different. The rankings from ESPN aren’t used in TV productions and aren’t nearly as known about as the standard AP and Coaches Poll rankings. What Connelly’s system does is provide fans with an in-depth look at their team in relation to the statistics they have put up through the first five weeks.

“What is SP+? In a single sentence, it’s a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency,” Connelly stated for ESPN. “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.”

With the differences between the format of the AP and SP+ rankings, the team placement in the rankings are also much different.

Tennessee lands as the No. 15 team in Connelly’s SP+ rankings. Tennessee has a rating of 16.3 which is 8.7 points lower than Michigan (25) at the top spot. The rankings give Tennessee the 10th-highest offensive rating in the country (37.4), the 32nd-highest defensive rating (21.2), and the 57th-highest rating on special teams (0.1).

Tennessee and LSU are the only SEC teams in the Top 10 of offensive ratings at No. 10 and No. 5, respectively.

Similar to the AP rankings this week, seven teams from the SEC land in the Top 25 spots of the SP+ rankings, although in very different spots.

AP Rankings (Points) SP+ Rankings (Rating)
No. 1 Georgia (1501) No. 4 Georgia (23.0)
No. 11 Alabama (921) No. 5 Alabama (22.3)
No. 16 Ole Miss (616) No. 11 Texas A&M (19.2)
No. 20 Kentucky (344) No. 15 Tennessee (16.3)
No. 21 Missouri (329) No. 21 Kentucky (13.8)
No. 22 Tennessee (306) No. 22 Ole Miss (13.7)
No. 23 LSU (149) No. 24 LSU (13.4)

Michigan (25), Ohio State (24.5), and Texas (23.1) round out the Top 3 of Connelly’s SP+ Rankings.

Tennessee is on a bye week this weekend but will return to Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14 for a contest against Texas A&M. The Aggies are coming off of a 34-22 win over Arkansas in Dallas last weekend and will host No. 11 Alabama this weekend in College Station.

The Vols, meanwhile, defeated South Carolina on Saturday night to pick up their first win in conference play after falling to Florida in the third week of the regular season.

To view Bill Connelly’s full SP+ rankings from ESPN, click here.

To view the full Week 6 AP Top 25 rankings, click here.

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