A return to normalcy in college football. That’s the dream in 2021, as college football intends to start by Labor Day instead of the mixture of start times from 2020.
The promise of this return to normalcy has already bore fruit: market win totals for all 130 FBS teams. This data wasn’t widely available with the strangeness of last season.
As an analytics guy, the return of market data makes me happier than when a degenerate wins a +400 bet on a hot dog eating contest.
Market win totals inform the key component of my preseason college football rankings. Below, you can check out the top 25 college football teams based on market win totals at DraftKings.
You might be frustrated with this list. You might want lash out at me about why your team is so low, or not on this list.
However, these preseason rankings are driven by bettors willing to lock up their hard earned money for over 4 months on team win totals. I am only a messenger, armed with code that finds the ratings for all 130 teams consistent with the market win total and over/under price.
Here are the top 25 teams.
4. Ohio State
6. Texas A&M
7. Iowa State
9. Penn State
11. North Carolina
12. Miami (FL)
17. Notre Dame
19. Oklahoma State
Here are some thoughts on a few of these teams.
- 4. Ohio State, 11 wins, -115 over. Ryan Day enters his third season as head coach but his first without QB Justin Fields. With a pass defense that declined last season, let’s not put Day in the same class as Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney yet.
- 5. Georgia, 10.5 wins, -130 over. By November of last season, the coaching staff finally played QB J.T. Daniels. Georgia won their last 4 games with Daniels as the starter. Now it seems like Georgia has the QB to lead this always talented program back to the college football playoff.
- 9. Penn State, 8.5 wins, -125 over. Despite an 0-5 start to last season, the markets deem Penn State as a top 10 team. QB Sean Clifford must prove himself in his 3rd season as the starter.
- 11. North Carolina, 9.5 wins, -120 over. The Tar Heels have QB Sam Howell, a potential top pick in the 2022 NFL draft. They also ranked 24th in 2020 by my pass success rate adjusted for schedule.
- 22. Michigan, 7.5 wins, -115 over. The Wolverines went 2-4 in 2020, a significant drop off for a program that Jim Harbaugh has elevated since he took over in 2015. The markets expect a rebound for this team. For example, the market numbers would favor Michigan at home against Indiana.
Sports betting with a PhD edge
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The analytics are based on my PhD research in applied math from Stanford.
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