Despite losing five players to the 2015 NFL Draft among a host of important contributors, the Texas Longhorns won't suffer much drop-off in 2015, at least according to the initial S&P+ projections put out by Bill Connelly of SB Nation and Football Outsiders.
Texas ranks No. 36 in that metric a year after ranking No. 33. S&P+ is an opponent-adjusted measurement using four of Bill C.'s Five Factors of college football: efficiency, explosiveness, field position, and finishing drives. As such, it doesn't necessarily predict or reflect a team's record -- for instance, S&P+ didn't care for Florida State last season, slotting the Seminoles No. 22 overall despite the playoff appearance and undefeated regular season.
Even 7-6 Tennessee finished among the nation's top-20 teams in Connelly's proprietary metric.
So Texas could post another 6-7 record or even win eight or nine games and still slot into approximately the same slot, depending on the strength of the Big 12.
Interestingly enough, the S&P+ projections don't have TCU or Baylor as the highest-rated team in the conference -- that would be Oklahoma at No. 10. The Sooners finished one spot ahead of the Bears last season, too. What about TCU? With all the losses on defense, the Horned Frogs drop 10 spots, from No. 8 to No. 18.
The two conference teams that could make big gains are Texas Tech (from No. 64 to No. 53) and Oklahoma State (from No. 63 to No. 43). Both teams could represent much bigger challenges to the Longhorns this season after weak performances in 2014.
Just how accurate are these projections? Well, the preseason S&P+ from 2014 nailed the eventual Texas finish at No. 33.
What do you think Longhorns fans? Will Charlie Strong's second team be better, worse, or stay about the same as his first group?