Georgia football soars, rival plummets in updated recurring production rankings

On Monday, ESPN stats junkie Bill Connelly updated his Return of the production leaderboard, one of the three main contributors to his SP+ ranking, accounting for more than 50 percent of the formula. Georgia ranks at No. 89, rising from its No. 96 ranking on Feb. 8, with 59 percent of its production returning. In February, Georgia’s returning production was split into 73 percent returning in offense (43rd in the country) and 44 percent in defense (122nd in the country). Connelly noted that teams in green or red were up or down 15+ points since February, with teams in bold up 30+ points. Only one team on the Georgia schedule met those criteria, with Florida rising from No. 62 (65%) when production returned in February to No. 100 (55%) when production returned starting this week.

For comparison, last year Georgia was ranked 92nd with 62 percent of its production returning, 84 percent on offense (20th in the country) and 39 percent on defense (126th in the country). It was still capable of winning the College Football Playoff National Championship. In 2020, Georgia was ranked 59th with 65 percent of its production returning, 50 percent on offense (98th in the country) and 80 percent on defense (21st in the country). Separately, Connelly listed Georgia as one of seven teams likely to fall behind in February.

I’m not even going to pretend that Georgia is in any kind of danger zone this season – recent history and recruit rankings will easily keep the Dawgs in the top three in the SP+ projections. But it’s worth noting that when production returns, they sit 96th, compared to last year’s other top three teams at 65th (Alabama) and 24th (Ohio State).

SP+ ratings are a pace- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football’s effectiveness. based on three main factors according to Connelly – return of production in the first place and tThe next factor is Recruitment, using mainly the last two Recruitment classes, but also the classes before that for a smaller part. Georgia has recruited at the elite level for the last four years, signing the nation’s No. 2, No. 1, No. 3 and No. 3 classes in the 247Sports team class rankings. Connelly has also attempted to bake transfers into the return of production, drawing production from that player and adjusting where necessary based on divisional level. Georgia will likely improve its recurring production by adding help at outside linebackers, wide receivers and in secondary.

The third factor is recent performances. After Georgia finished the 2020 season 8-2 and won its fourth bowl game under the head coach in its fifth year Kirby Smart, The Dawgs went 14-1 in 2021, making the college football playoffs and becoming the first No. 3 to win the national championship. The semifinals win over Michigan was Smart’s third straight win at the New Year’s Six Bowl, and the win over Alabama was his twelfth win against a top 10 opponent as head coach. While Connelly says that factor accounts for just 10 percent of the overall forecast, it’s an area where, like recruitment, Georgia should rank fairly heavily.

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