It's time to determine the Breakout Team of the Year in D3 Football, the team who has done the best against expectations over the 2017 D3 Football season.
Every year a few teams show a marked improvement from a season prior, winning a few more games and working their way up conference and national standings and rankings alike.
So we took a stab at defining the most improved and biggest breakout teams of the year, using our BennettRank to determine which teams have made the biggest jumps from a season ago.
You'll see that from the list of the 10 breakout teams below who all won at least two more games than they did last year, one improved by five wins and many won two, three or four more games than in last year's campaign. They earned a massive jump in the rankings because of the games they won and the competition they faced.
So here you have it — the Breakout Teams of the Year in D3 Football.
Our Breakout Teams metric measures year-over-year improvement, and it applies to every division of every sport we rank. Points are awarded based on three things: end-of-season BennettRank (2017 BR), year-over-year improvement in BennettRank (ΔBR), and year-over-year improvement in overall record (ΔRecord).
First we calculate the points for end-of-season BennettRank (2017 BR). It's very simple: we flip the rankings on their head and award the corresponding number of points to each team. So since are 247 teams in D3 football, the team ranked BR-1 in the final BennettRank earns 247 points, the team ranked BR-2 earns 246 points, BR-3 earns 245 points, BR-4 earns 244, and so on, all the way down to the team ranked BR-247 (last), who earns one point.
Then each team earns up to 247 points based on their year-over-year change in BennettRank (ΔBR). To get to this number, we take last season's final BennettRank and subtract it from this season's final BennettRank. Example: if a team finished at BR-76 last season and BR-34 this season, their year-over-year change is -42. We then order all 247 teams based on this change. The team that made the biggest year-over-year improvement earns 247 points, then the second biggest improvement earns 246 points, the third biggest earns 245, fourth gets 244, and so on, all the way down to the team that improved the least (and actually saw a negative change) in BennettRank from the year before. That team earns a single point.
Finally, teams earn bonus points for improving upon their win total from the year before (ΔRecord). Each game a team won over last year's win-total earns them three points. Example: if a team finished 2-8 last season and 7-3 this season, their five-game improvement earns them 15 points. It seems like a small amount, but remember that BennettRank already takes wins into account. The kicker here is that a team cannot be included in this list unless they won at least two more games than they did the year before.
Add these three point totals together (2017 BR, ΔBR, ΔRecord) and you have your final score!