ESPN Releases Preseason SP+ College Football Rankings

Despite some conferences choosing not to play college football over concerns surrounding Covid-19, sigh, ESPN has released their annual SP+ preseason rankings for all 130 FBS teams.

This year the Commodores come in at, this is not a typo, 110th. Vanderbilt is the only SEC team outside of the top 75, below Coastal Carolina, San Jose St., Miami-Ohio, and just above powerhouse programs Liberty and Kent State. As a consolation to Commodore fans, the fighting Derek Masons are not the lowest ranked Power-5 team. Vanderbilt comes in ahead of the Kansas Jayhawks who are ranked 115th.

So, this begs the question, how does this compare to last season? The Commodores came in at number 49 last year. A 3-9 record obviously was not the expectation, but were the preseason SP+ rankings correct? Kind of.

Last year Vanderbilt was higher rated than just 2 FBS opponents and unranked ETSU. The Commodores handled business against Northern Illinois, but lost to 102nd ranked UNLV. However, the troops in black and gold were able to upset the Missouri Tigers who were ranked 13th prior to 2019.

We know the upcoming schedule for the Dores is brutal, but let’s take a look at how it compares to last season. Last year the average preseason ranking of opponents was 33.5. This year the average ranking is 23.9. Not as big of a jump as you might expect, but pretty significant when you consider the average opponent, week in and week out, is considered to have a talent level in the top 25. Here are the rankings of the schedules from 2019 and 2020 (in order):

20192020
Georgia3Texas A&M10
Purdue48LSU13
LSU4South Carolina36
NIU73Missouri44
Ole Miss37Ole Miss38
UNLV102Mississippi St.48
Missouri13Kentucky22
South Carolina17Florida5
Florida6Tennessee19
Kentucky40Georgia4
ETSUN/A
Tennessee26

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