Obviously, that’s a question to which we’ll never get a definitive answer, but based on some data Bill Connelly posted yesterday, I’d say significantly.
Bill employs a performance metric he calls S&P+. Here’s how he compiles it:
The S&P+ Ratings are a college football ratings system derived from the play-by-play data of all 800+ of a season’s FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays). There are three key components to the S&P+:
- Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.
- EqPts Per Play (PPP): An explosiveness measure derived from determining the point value of every yard line (based on the expected number of points an offense could expect to score from that yard line) and, therefore, every play of a given game.
- Opponent adjustments: Success Rate and PPP combine to form S&P, an OPS-like measure for football. Then each team’s S&P output for a given category (Rushing/Passing on either Standard Downs or Passing Downs) is compared to the expected output based upon their opponents and their opponents’ opponents. This is a schedule-based adjustment designed to reward tougher schedules and punish weaker ones.
You might notice that Georgia is one of two schools with losing records that still shows up in his top 30 S&P+ rankings. But what’s especially interesting is the weighted version (he breaks it down on a single-game by single-game basis) he analyzes in that first linked post. Using that approach, Georgia jumps to sixth. By explanation,
Georgia (Weighted Rk: sixth, Actual Rk: 29th). The Bulldogs still have to beat Georgia Tech if they want to become bowl eligible, but they have looked good to very good in five of their last six games. They dug themselves such a hole in September and early October (needless to say, the lifeless loss to Colorado does not look too good right now), but they are a handful at the moment.
You might also note that Bill lists Georgia’s results in the Kentucky game as the fourth best performance of the season by any school in the country. Clearly, this bunch got things in a higher gear after A.J.’s return.