ESPN's SP+ Predicts A 7-5 Record For Notre Dame

The faulty SP+ from ESPN predictions a huge drop off for Notre Dame
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I have railed against the SP+ that ESPN uses for awhile now, but it has now hit a new low. Bill Connelly's SP+ formula projects a 7-5 finish for Notre Dame in 2021 and a 25th national ranking.

If you're not familiar with this, it's the formula that had Clemson and Ohio State ranked ahead of LSU .... after the national championship game in which LSU blasted Clemson (42-25 victory). Clemson, of course, beat Ohio State in the semi-finals.

It's also the same formula that ranked Notre Dame 16th in 2020, behind BYU, Cincinnati, Iowa, Iowa State, USC, Wisconsin and Texas, and one spot ahead of 4-5 Penn State. Oh, I almost forgot, it also ranked 8-4 North Carolina ahead of Notre Dame .... yes, the same North Carolina team that Notre Dame beat 31-17 in Chapel Hill. He also had 8-4 Florida ranked ahead of Texas A&M .... yes, the A&M squad that beat Florida.

Connelly breaks down games into likely wins, relative toss ups and likely losses. He lists Wisconsin, who Notre Dame plays on a neutral field, as a likely loss. He lists a road game against Virginia Tech as a toss up, as well as home games against USC, Cincinnati and North Carolina. 

Nevermind that Notre Dame hasn't lost a game at home since September 2017, there are three home games in which the SP+ feels Notre Dame has a less than 50% chance of winning this season.

Here is a bit of what Connelly wrote about why he expects Notre Dame to be so average this season:

"In a year in which seemingly everyone returns their starting quarterback and 80% or more of last year's production, the Fighting Irish have to replace starting QB Ian Book and their top two WRs, four All-ACC offensive linemen (!!) and stars at defensive end, outside linebacker, cornerback and strong safety." - Connelly

I wasn't aware Notre Dame had "stars" at cornerback and strong safety last season.

Connelly goes on to say that Notre Dame, a team with two playoff appearances and a berth to the BCS Championship game under Kelly, has only ranked higher than 12th one time in the Brian Kelly era, which was the 2015 season. 

Connelly's system is a "tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency." He also writes that it is "intended to be predictive and forward-facing."

At some point when your formula keeps kicking out such faulty projections and rankings that are so far off from reality its well past time to change your formula, or to find someone with a better ranking system.

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