Podcast: 3 surprising college football teams by early season analytics

As the calendar turns to October, you want insight into college football. Which teams can we change our opinion about compared to the preseason?

On this episode of The Football Analytics Show, I dig out the insights based on my yards per play adjusted for strength of schedule.  The back story on teams supplements the noisy data from 2018.

I discuss the 0-4 team better than their record suggests, and contrast them with the 5-0 team poised for disappointment. Then I look at how a team with playoff hopes has declined this season.

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College football rankings after week 4, 2018

These college football rankings take four weeks of data and adjust margin of victory for strength of schedule. The rating gives a predicted margin of victory against an average FBS team.

As these numbers only consider 4 games at most for any team, the results show clear noise.  Appalachian State is not the 3rd best team in the nation, even if they played Penn State tough in their opener.

Also, Eastern Michigan is ranked ahead of Michigan despite a 2-2 record.  They’re getting credit for staying close with Buffalo (13th, another small sample size disaster)  and San Diego State (39th), but Eastern Michigan is not a top 25 team.

I post these noisy rankings to show why I keep weight on preseason rankings in both the public points based rankings and the more accurate member rankings.

With only data from this year, you get some non-sensical predictions.  To get a prediction, subtract the rating of two teams and add 3 points for the home team.

For example, Penn State would be a 21 point favorite at home over Ohio State.  That doesn’t pass the stupid test.

As another example, Colorado would be a 10 point favorite at home over UCLA.

1. Alabama, (4-0), 46.20
2. Penn State, (4-0), 41.10
3. Appalachian State, (2-1), 36.79
4. Georgia, (4-0), 36.15
5. Clemson, (4-0), 30.68
6. Texas A&M, (2-2), 26.49
7. Duke, (4-0), 25.24
8. Ohio State, (4-0), 22.79
9. Stanford, (4-0), 19.73
10. LSU, (4-0), 18.24
11. Oklahoma, (4-0), 18.08
12. Missouri, (3-1), 17.76
13. Buffalo, (4-0), 17.11
14. Michigan State, (2-1), 16.34
15. North Texas, (4-0), 16.19
16. Auburn, (3-1), 15.46
17. Washington, (3-1), 15.29
18. Kentucky, (4-0), 15.11
19. Wisconsin, (3-1), 14.90
20. South Carolina, (2-1), 13.06
21. Texas, (3-1), 12.99
22. Virginia, (3-1), 12.57
23. Brigham Young, (3-1), 11.85
24. Arizona State, (2-2), 11.84
25. Eastern Michigan, (2-2), 11.76
26. California, (3-0), 11.42
27. Notre Dame, (4-0), 11.38
28. Washington State, (3-1), 11.02
29. Utah State, (3-1), 10.74
30. Temple, (2-2), 10.70
31. Michigan, (3-1), 10.37
32. Army, (2-2), 10.07
33. West Virginia, (3-0), 9.89
34. UCF, (3-0), 9.66
35. North Carolina State, (3-0), 9.23
36. Baylor, (3-1), 9.19
37. South Florida, (4-0), 9.01
38. Purdue, (1-3), 8.94
39. San Diego State, (3-1), 8.78
40. Indiana, (3-1), 8.69
41. Iowa, (3-1), 8.43
42. Akron, (2-1), 8.15
43. Iowa State, (1-2), 8.07
44. Northwestern, (1-2), 7.83
45. Oregon, (3-1), 7.24
46. Mississippi, (3-1), 6.99
47. Maryland, (3-1), 6.81
48. Miami (FL), (3-1), 6.77
49. TCU, (2-2), 6.33
50. USC, (2-2), 6.23
51. Texas Tech, (3-1), 5.46
52. East Carolina, (1-2), 4.98
53. Louisville, (2-2), 4.89
54. Florida, (3-1), 4.83
55. Vanderbilt, (2-2), 3.40
56. Houston, (3-1), 3.32
57. Boston College, (3-1), 3.26
58. Arkansas State, (3-1), 2.92
59. Georgia Southern, (2-1), 2.67
60. Hawaii, (4-1), 2.04
61. Syracuse, (4-0), 1.64
62. Louisiana Tech, (2-1), 1.61
63. Tulsa, (1-3), 1.34
64. Fresno State, (2-1), 1.21
65. Mississippi State, (3-1), 0.79
66. Wake Forest, (2-2), 0.41
67. Air Force, (1-2), 0.39
68. Utah, (2-1), 0.24
69. Illinois, (2-2), -0.31
70. Cincinnati, (4-0), -0.35
71. Georgia Tech, (1-3), -0.72
72. North Carolina, (1-2), -0.93
73. Memphis, (3-1), -0.95
74. Kansas, (2-2), -1.68
75. Ohio, (1-2), -2.08
76. Florida International, (2-2), -2.38
77. Pittsburgh, (2-2), -2.46
78. Oklahoma State, (3-1), -2.51
79. Western Kentucky, (1-3), -3.35
80. Arizona, (2-2), -4.00
81. Minnesota, (3-1), -4.05
82. Ball State, (1-3), -4.74
83. Central Michigan, (1-3), -5.27
84. UNLV, (2-2), -5.27
85. Colorado, (3-0), -5.56
86. Kent State, (1-3), -5.81
87. Middle Tennessee, (1-2), -6.97
88. Navy, (2-2), -7.36
89. Florida Atlantic, (2-2), -7.88
90. San Jose State, (0-3), -8.83
91. Wyoming, (2-2), -9.39
92. Charlotte, (2-2), -9.50
93. Boise State, (2-1), -9.73
94. Southern Miss, (2-1), -10.09
95. Tulane, (1-3), -10.14
96. Marshall, (2-1), -10.66
97. SMU, (1-3), -10.76
98. New Mexico, (2-1), -10.95
99. Louisiana Monroe, (2-2), -11.73
100. Liberty, (1-2), -12.15
101. Virginia Tech, (2-1), -12.21
102. UCLA, (0-3), -12.87
103. Northern Illinois, (1-3), -13.00
104. Coastal Carolina, (3-1), -13.05
105. Old Dominion, (1-3), -13.87
106. Arkansas, (1-3), -13.93
107. Massachusetts, (2-3), -14.58
108. South Alabama, (1-3), -15.40
109. Western Michigan, (2-2), -16.08
110. Rice, (1-3), -16.12
111. Florida State, (2-2), -16.38
112. Troy, (3-1), -16.47
113. Kansas State, (2-2), -16.76
114. Toledo, (2-1), -17.10
115. UAB, (2-1), -17.72
116. Tennessee, (2-2), -18.04
117. Colorado State, (1-4), -18.63
118. Rutgers, (1-3), -20.67
119. UTSA, (1-3), -21.21
120. Miami (OH), (1-3), -21.22
121. Nebraska, (0-3), -21.91
122. Oregon State, (1-3), -22.78
123. Nevada, (2-2), -25.40
124. Bowling Green, (1-3), -26.30
125. Georgia State, (1-3), -26.62
126. Louisiana, (1-2), -26.74
127. Connecticut, (1-3), -27.03
128. Texas State, (1-3), -28.29
129. New Mexico State, (1-4), -33.52
130. UTEP, (0-4), -38.57

Podcast: David Hale on turnovers, college football in 2018

On this episode of The Football Analytics Show, David Hale, writer at ESPN, joins me to talk college football. I invited him on the show to talk about the analytics of turnovers, but he also had some great betting insights.

Among other topics, we discuss:

  • How game situation impacts turnovers (11:42)
  • The type of defense that struggles to force turnovers
  • The catastrophe of Florida State football, and whether to back or fade them
  • How turnovers impact the point spread in blow out games (27:42)
  • The difference between Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney that affects games with big point spreads (28:58)

Everyone should read his article on turnovers in college football.

To listen on iTunes, click here.

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College football early season adjustments, 2018

After two weeks of the 2018 season, we need to make adjustments based on this season’s data.

We want adjustments that considers strength of schedule.  However, there is not yet enough data from this season to apply my algorithm to game results.  The algorithm requires that all teams get connected in a network, which happens after week 3 or 4.

Instead, let’s take the margin of victory for a team and compare it against the median closing point spread on Don Best.  This considers strength of schedule in that the markets account for the strength of both teams.

Here are the average points by which FBS teams have covered the spread.  Positive numbers imply that a team did better than expected by the closing spread.  (The record in parentheses is in games straight up, not against the spread.)

These numbers inform my early season adjustments in my member predictions.  To learn more about becoming a member, click here.

1. Boise State, (2-0), 24.25
2. Vanderbilt, (2-0), 23.00
3. Cincinnati, (2-0), 22.50
4. Ball State, (1-1), 21.50
5. Utah State, (1-1), 21.00
6. Kent State, (1-1), 20.75
7. Appalachian State, (1-1), 19.25
8. Louisiana, (1-0), 18.50
9. Hawaii, (3-0), 18.00
10. Maryland, (2-0), 17.50
11. Fresno State, (1-1), 16.75
12. Colorado, (2-0), 16.50
13. Arizona State, (2-0), 16.00
14. Virginia Tech, (2-0), 15.75
15. Liberty, (1-1), 15.25
16. Toledo, (1-0), 14.50
17. Coastal Carolina, (1-1), 14.25
18. Oklahoma, (2-0), 13.75
19. Eastern Michigan, (2-0), 13.50
20. Alabama, (2-0), 13.50
21. Air Force, (1-1), 12.50
22. Mississippi, (2-0), 12.25
23. Mississippi State, (2-0), 11.75
24. Minnesota, (2-0), 11.50
25. Kentucky, (2-0), 11.25
26. Duke, (2-0), 11.25
27. Georgia Southern, (2-0), 11.25
28. Iowa, (2-0), 11.25
29. Ohio State, (2-0), 10.25
30. Penn State, (2-0), 10.25
31. East Carolina, (1-1), 9.75
32. Washington State, (2-0), 9.75
33. North Texas, (2-0), 9.00
34. West Virginia, (2-0), 9.00
35. Stanford, (2-0), 8.25
36. Boston College, (2-0), 8.25
37. Houston, (2-0), 8.00
38. Virginia, (1-1), 7.75
39. Syracuse, (2-0), 7.75
40. Texas A&M, (1-1), 7.50
41. Kansas, (1-1), 7.25
42. Tulsa, (1-1), 6.62
43. Memphis, (1-1), 6.50
44. Georgia, (2-0), 6.00
45. Brigham Young, (1-1), 5.75
46. Army, (1-1), 5.25
47. Texas Tech, (1-1), 5.25
48. UNLV, (1-1), 4.75
49. Tulane, (1-1), 4.62
50. Missouri, (2-0), 4.50
51. LSU, (2-0), 4.25
52. Michigan, (1-1), 4.00
53. Southern Miss, (1-1), 4.00
54. Florida International, (1-1), 4.00
55. Oklahoma State, (2-0), 3.25
56. South Florida, (2-0), 3.00
57. California, (2-0), 2.50
58. TCU, (2-0), 2.50
59. Buffalo, (2-0), 2.25
60. North Carolina State, (2-0), 2.25
61. Nevada, (1-1), 2.00
62. Oregon State, (1-1), 1.50
63. Tennessee, (1-1), 1.25
64. Illinois, (2-0), 0.50
65. New Mexico, (1-1), 0.50
66. UCF, (2-0), 0.50
67. Utah, (2-0), -0.75
68. Oregon, (2-0), -1.00
69. Rutgers, (1-1), -1.25
70. Miami (FL), (1-1), -1.50
71. Louisiana Tech, (2-0), -2.00
72. Auburn, (2-0), -2.00
73. Indiana, (2-0), -2.00
74. Massachusetts, (1-2), -2.08
75. Wake Forest, (2-0), -2.25
76. South Alabama, (0-2), -2.50
77. Rice, (1-2), -3.00
78. Wyoming, (1-2), -3.33
79. Georgia State, (1-1), -3.50
80. Washington, (1-1), -3.50
81. Marshall, (2-0), -4.00
82. Western Kentucky, (0-2), -4.00
83. San Jose State, (0-2), -4.50
84. Troy, (1-1), -4.75
85. Wisconsin, (2-0), -5.00
86. Louisiana Monroe, (2-0), -5.50
87. Northwestern, (1-1), -5.75
88. South Carolina, (1-1), -6.25
89. Baylor, (2-0), -6.25
90. Iowa State, (0-1), -6.50
91. Charlotte, (1-1), -6.75
92. USC, (1-1), -6.75
93. Northern Illinois, (0-2), -7.00
94. Georgia Tech, (1-1), -8.00
95. Nebraska, (0-1), -8.00
96. Notre Dame, (2-0), -8.00
97. Akron, (1-0), -8.50
98. UAB, (1-1), -9.00
99. San Diego State, (1-1), -9.00
100. Bowling Green, (0-2), -9.00
101. UTEP, (0-2), -9.25
102. Arkansas State, (1-1), -9.25
103. Clemson, (2-0), -9.88
104. Middle Tennessee, (1-1), -10.00
105. UCLA, (0-2), -10.00
106. Colorado State, (1-2), -10.00
107. Florida, (1-1), -10.25
108. Purdue, (0-2), -10.50
109. Arkansas, (1-1), -10.50
110. Navy, (1-1), -11.75
111. Michigan State, (1-1), -12.00
112. UTSA, (0-2), -12.50
113. Central Michigan, (0-2), -12.50
114. Western Michigan, (0-2), -13.25
115. SMU, (0-2), -13.25
116. Temple, (0-2), -13.75
117. Texas State, (1-1), -14.25
118. Miami (OH), (0-2), -15.00
119. Texas, (1-1), -15.75
120. Louisville, (1-1), -15.75
121. Florida Atlantic, (1-1), -16.25
122. Kansas State, (1-1), -17.50
123. Connecticut, (0-2), -18.00
124. North Carolina, (0-2), -18.75
125. New Mexico State, (0-3), -19.33
126. Pittsburgh, (1-1), -19.50
127. Arizona, (0-2), -20.00
128. Florida State, (1-1), -24.75
129. Ohio, (1-0), -25.50
130. Old Dominion, (0-2), -26.00

Podcast: 3 overrated college football teams for 2018 by preseason analytics

August brings hope to all college football fans, as they dream of a national title or a playoff berth.

Then October rolls around, and that college football playoff contender drops a game.  Then it drops a second, and we start to think:

Maybe that team was overrated this preseason

Using the preseason AP poll as a benchmark, I identify 3 overrated teams based on preseason analytics and knowledge about the teams.  You’ll find out about:

  • The team whose quarterback sets a ceiling despite their favorable division
  • The team whose 10-0 start in 2017 might have expectations too high for 2018
  • The top 20 team who will be an underdog in all Power 5 road games (as well as 2 home games)

To listen on iTunes, click here.

To listen here, click on the right pointing triangle:

You can also read my article over at SB Nation’s Football Study Hall.