2012 College Football Preseason Rankings: Ranking Components

Our 2012 college football preseason rankings are out, and some of you have asked us why we have certain teams rated where they are.

So, let’s explain it.

Preseason Ratings Methodology

We create the preseason ratings by examining the historical record, and using a technique called regression to map out relationships between A) variables that we can measure going into the season, and B) team ratings at the end of the year.

For example, we know that in recent seasons, teams with a very high positive turnover margin tend to get worse the next year. And, we know that the more returning starters a team has, the better they tend to do the next season. Other factors that we have found to be important include: team ratings from the past few years, the percent of various stats returning, and players lost to the draft.

For more info on what factors we consider, and how we arrived at these factors, see our original post on how we create our preseason ratings.

College Football Preseason Rating Factors

But just saying “these factors are important” isn’t really an explanation. So, we’ve decided to show you exactly what factors contributed to a team being ranked where they are.

The table below lists every one of the 124 FBS teams, along with their 2012 preseason ratings, and a breakdown of how that 2012 rating moved from 0 (exactly average, and the starting point for all teams) to its final value.

Each column is one category that we use in our preseason ratings. The value shown for a team is how many points they gained in that category, relative to a completely average team. If you add up all the categories, you get the team’s 2012 preseason rating.

Here’s a brief definition of each category:

LAST YR — last year’s final predictive power rating
PROGRAM — weighted average of a team’s predictive power rating from the previous few years; gives a general sense of overall program strength
RETURNING — combination of returning starters, talent lost to the draft, and returning stat info (% of returning passing yards, % returning receptions, etc)
TO LUCK — teams with high turnover margins in one year tend to get worse the next; teams with negative turnover margins tend to get better
STYLE — we’ve found that teams who rely more on their passing attack tend to not be able to maintain their offensive level as well as teams who depend on running the ball; similarly, teams who defend the run well tend to be able to repeat their defensive performance better than teams who defend the pass well

And now, here is the master list of every team’s rating, and the value they got from each category:

2012 College Football Preseason Rating Component Values