So, Georgia finished first in both Defensive SP+ and Special Teams SP+… and fifth overall, behind four of the five top offensive SP+ teams (Oklahoma was the other, natch). Should we call Kirby’s team the best Manball team in the country?
By the way, if you’re curious, as I was, about LSU’s second place ranking, Bill does his readers the courtesy of providing an explanation:
This is a long way of saying that LSU, 2019’s national champion and a team that finished the season playing otherworldly ball, didn’t finish the year No. 1 in SP+, just as it didn’t finish No. 1 in FPI. Ohio State all but clinched the No. 1 spot by playing the best overall ball in the regular season and then playing Clemson to a near-statistical draw in the CFP semifinals.
Oh well. LSU timed its peak perfectly, playing well throughout the year and then going nuclear late. In the Tigers’ last four games, their average per-game SP+ percentile rating was 99%. Play like that all year, and you’re the greatest team of all time. As it stands, their midseason defensive funk (driven in part by injuries) dragged their full-season numbers down to that of a merely tremendous team.
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