The numbers seem to love Auburn football. The popular S&P+ ratings system has projected the Tigers as a top-5 team nationally for 2018.
According to SB Nation’s Bill Connelly, the inventor of the advanced stats system, Auburn is No. 5 in the new 130-team projected ratings for 2018. That puts the Tigers second in the SEC — behind No. 2 Alabama and ahead of No. 6 Georgia. Auburn finished 2017 at No. 10 in the S&P+.
The S&P+ projected ratings weigh three factors. Auburn ranks No. 11 in two-year weighted recruiting impact, which accounts for 25 percent of the formula. It ranks No. 6 in returning production, which makes up more than 50 percent. The rest goes into a recent history formula based on the last five years of S&P ratings, and Auburn ranks No. 6 there as well.
In a story last week by Connelly, Auburn was rated as the No. 4 team in S&P+ for the last five seasons — which covers the entire Gus Malzahn era on the Plains.
S&P+ differs from standard human polls and other computer formulas by tracking play-by-play data and adjusting its results to the strength of a team’s opponent. Auburn’s usually tough strength of schedule serves it well in these ratings.
In 2018, Auburn will play No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Washington, No. 6 Georgia, No. 14 Mississippi State, No. 16 LSU, No. 24 Texas A&M and No. 25 Ole Miss.