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Football Power Index: ESPN just released its 2023 FPI rankings. This is a formula that measures the best college football teams. It is not a preseason poll.

There are several teams in the Top 25 that should not be expected to finish there.  There are factors that change the order, most notably scheduling.

There is a big presence from the SEC. Obviously, they will tear each other apart during the season.

The end-of-season FPI standings are more akin to the polls. They are differences however.

First off, this season’s top pick is Ohio State. Again that is a score going into the season. Alabama is second in the FPI. Georgia, the two-time defending champs, are third.

Each team has a score. The Buckeyes have a 31.5 (whatever that means). Alabama has a 28.2. Georgia gets a 27.4.

Comparing those numbers to seasons past, the 30+ Ohio State score is high on the ladder - if it holds up.

Last year’s national champion Bulldogs finished with a 29.9. That UGA team from the year before had a 30.0.

The highest FPI after the completion of a season belongs to the 2020 Alabama team. It had a 35.9.

The highest ranking teams from the playoff era are:

1. 2020 Alabama (35.9)
2. 2019 Ohio State (33.7)
3. 2018 Clemson (32.7)
4. 2019 Clemson (31.5)
5.  2016 Alabama (31.2)

Interestingly, only two of those five won national titles (2020 Alabama, 2018 Clemson).

Two in that top five (2019 Ohio State and 2019 Clemson) were ranked higher than the national champ that year (LSU). The Bengal Tigers were ranked third in the FPI that season. Must’ve been a strong class.

Since the advent of the playoff, three of the champs were not No. 1 in the FPI (2014 Ohio State, 2016 Clemson, 2019 LSU).

The ranking takes the entire resume into account. Some teams position themselves to win it and play their best ball in the end. Ohio State’s 2014 squad was one. They actually finished fourth that season in the FPI.

There are years that the best team just doesn’t win it. Variables may be scheduling (I’m repeating myself), injuries (bad luck) or just plain choking.

Looking at the top three finishers in the FPI per season since 2014, there have been only nine different teams in those 27 spots.

Alabama has the most top three appearances with eight. Ohio State is next with six. Clemson has four. Georgia also has four.

The other five have just one top three finish apiece (Oregon, Oklahoma, LSU, TCU, Michigan). TCU and Michigan were not last year’s editions. It was the 2014 Horned Frogs and 2016 Wolverines.

Is it time for some new blood?  The four-team playoff has limited the participants in the championship race. Tripling the field soon opens the door a little more, but it doesn’t necessarily triple the chances for a new breed of title contenders.

Playoff Era FPI (2014-2022) - Top 3 Per Year:

2023: Ohio State (31.5), Alabama (28.2), Georgia (27.4)
2022: *Georgia (29.9), Alabama (27.3), Ohio State (25.8)
2021: *Georgia (30.0), Alabama (25.4), Georgia (24.0)
2020: *Alabama (35.9), Ohio State (27.6), Clemson (26.9)
2019: Ohio State (33.7), Clemson (31.5), *LSU (30.3)
2018: *Clemson (32.7), Alabama (30.1), Georgia (24.9)
2017: *Alabama (28.4), Ohio State (26.9), Georgia (25.1)
2016: Alabama (31.2), *Clemson (27.6), Michigan (27.0)
2015: *Alabama (27.4), Oklahoma (26.2), Ohio State (24.9)
2014: Oregon (28.3), Alabama (26.8), TCU (26.1) *Ohio State (25.7)

*National Champion