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Big Ten Preseason S&P College Football Projections

We take a look at Bill Connelly’s Preseason Projections, including where Rutgers stacks up within the conference.

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Bill Connelly’s pre-season projections are out....where does Rutgers Football stand?

Not surprinsgly the Rutgers Scarlet Knights are ranked last in the Big Ten and 92nd nationally according to Bill Connelly. Let’s be honest, given the past recruiting classes, combined with the loss of last year’s production; the ranking is not all that surprising. But let’s keep things in perspective; it is only February and these are only projections.

Pre-Season S&P Projections
Bill Connelly: Football Study Hall

How are these rankings compiled?

For those of you unfamiliar with Connelly’s S&P rankings it consists primarily of three factors: recent history, returning production, and recruiting.

Recruiting is easy. I simply create a projected rating based on these two-year recruiting rankings. The recruiting-based projection makes up 25 percent of the overall S&P+ projection.

For returning production, I apply projected changes (based on each team’s returning offensive and defensive production, which are on different scales) to last year’s S&P+ averages. The projection based on returning production accounts for 56 percent.

For recent history, I’ve gotten a little weird. I found that the previous year’s S&P+ ratings were carrying a little too much weight in the projections, so what you see below is a projection based solely off of seasons two to five years ago. Recent history now carries less weight in the overall formulas, only 19 percent. It basically acts as a slight supplement to the two factors above.

The biggest component of the rankings is returning offensive and defensive production with a 56% weighting. Nationally Rutgers ranks 76th in returning offensive production and and 29th in returning defensive production, giving the Scarlet Knights a combined ranking of 46th nationally.

What is Rutgers losing offensively next year?

Quarterback: The passing game amassed a total of 1,659 passing yards consisting of 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Chris Laviano who has since transferred from the program accounted for 748 pass yards, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, representing 45.08% of 2016 passing yards.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Rushing: The run game rushed for 1,730 yards on 489 attempts (3.54 yards-per-carry). Justin Goodwin is the lone senior in this group who rushed for 517 yards on 118 attempts (4.38 yards-per-carry), representing 29.88% of 2016 rushing yards.

Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

Receiving: In addition to Justin Goodwin, the Scarlet Knights lose seniors Andre Patton, John Tsimis, Carlton Agudosi, Nick Archidiacano, and Matt Flanagan. This group hauled in 90 of the 159 total receptions for for 938 yards out of the total 1,659 receiving yards, or 56.54%.

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Defense: On the defensive side of the ball the Scarlet Knights are losing 26.84% of total tackles. The biggest loss coming from former senior captain Darius Hamilton and safety Anthony Cioffi. Additionally, the Knights also lose Julian Pinnix-Odrick, Greg Jones, Kevin Marquez, Quanzell Lambert, Isaiah Johnson, and Marcus Parker.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Recruiting Rankings are the second highest component of the S&P Projections

Connelly has Rutgers ranked 63rd nationally in his recruiting impact calculation ahead of Purdue within the Big-Ten. This should come as no-surprise as Rutgers last five recruiting classes has not broken the top-ten in the Big-Ten with the exception of the most recent recruiting class under Head Coach Chris Ash. Yes, technically the 2016 class was also Ash’s, however he had a meager 3-4 weeks while head coach to recruit.

Trailing 5 Year Big-Ten Recruiting Rankings

Recent history is also a component used, however it only represents 19% of the total S&P Projections

Last year’s results certainly do not help this statistic, however we were not alone: Oregon, Georgia, Rutgers, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Arizona State, Michigan State, and Illinois round out the top-ten who’s recent history ranking suffered the most.

Rebuilds Take Time!

We have discussed this at length that rebuilds take time, and with Ash’s first full recruiting class under his belt, he has stocked the cupboard with a lot of talent and speed. It is now time to to develop these players, and the players currently on the roster so we can see an improved 2017 season. Bill Connelly has touched on rebuilds and has coined the phrase, “Third-Year Hope”.

If something big is going to happen, the odds are good that it will have happened by the end of a head coach's third year on the job.

Since 2006, 46 teams have improved by at least 14 adjusted points per game (per S&P+) from one year to the next. That's about four to five big leaps per season for the entire country. From this group of 46, 36 were led by coaches that were either in their first (10), second (13), or third (13) years.

By your third year on the job, the program is mostly yours. Sure, there are some fourth- or fifth-year guys who were recruited by your predecessor, but the depth chart is mostly filled with guys you signed. Plus, you've got the lay of the land by now -- you've got a decent read on your conference foes, you know which boosters you have to most obsessively placate, etc.

Don’t let these pre-season rankings get you down, help is on the way!