It has already been a thrilling start in college football as several games produced fantastic finishes. There have been impressive performances put up by the country’s best teams and some woeful outings by some unexpected programs. All of it added up to a solid week of movement in my strength ratings.
When you analyze the moves I detail below, understand that most of the moves made to the Power Ratings are done so on a performance-versus-expectation basis. Some teams may have bigger wins or losses, and were perhaps more dominant, but how they overperform or underperform is the biggest barometer.
Biggest upward movers
1. Georgia (+ 4 points)
Georgia’s performance against Oregon on Saturday left me ashamed that I downgraded the Bulldogs at all from the close of last season. Sure they lost several NFL draftees on defense, but this program has become a factory for pumping out huge, fast, athletic players on that side of the ball. It showed on Saturday.
2. New Mexico (+ 4 points)
The Lobos’ 41-0 win last weekend came against FCS Maine, but they accomplished the feat in dominant fashion. They were just a six-point favorite and won the yardage battle 437-118, giving hope to fans that coach Danny Gonzales might finally be righting the ship after five straight seasons of three wins or fewer.
3. Alabama (+ 3 points)
Sometimes it’s difficult to get a gauge on just how good the country’s best teams are. While we all figured that Alabama was either No. 1 or 1A in the hierarchy of college football this season, the Tide’s 55-0 manhandling of Utah State should stoke fear in any of their remaining opponents. The only question at this point figures to be how difficult oddsmakers will make it to back this team.
4. SMU (+ 3 points)
Although there were some defensive concerns against North Texas, SMU was very impressive in its opener, producing 576 yards of offense behind a huge game from senior QB Tanner Mordecai. After an FCS game against Lamar this week, things will get quite a bit tougher with games against Maryland and TCU. We’ll know a lot more about the Mustangs at that point.
5. Syracuse (+ 3 points)
Syracuse’s 31-7 rout of Louisville was among the biggest Week 1 surprises as coach Dino Babers’ team has been a popular pick to finish last in the ACC Atlantic Division. The Orange, who were five-point dogs, exploded for 449 yards of offense, getting 242 through the air after averaging just over 150 passing yards per game last year.
Biggest downward movers
1. Temple (-4 points)
If Game 1 is any indication, it could be a very long season for Temple. Having been routed 30-0 by ACC doormat Duke, the Owls were outgained 500-179.
2. Middle Tennessee State (-4 points)
Granted there was a lot of motivation for James Madison in playing its first official game at the FBS level, but to be outgained by 548-119 margin doesn’t bode well for the Blue Raiders’ prospects in 2022. They are actually a Stability System play this week, however, at Colorado State, so we’ll see how quickly they can rebound.
3. Navy (-3 points)
It’s fair to say that Navy football is in a rut since the 11-2 season of 2019. The Midshipmen started the 2022 campaign with an ugly 14-7 loss to Delaware and in un-Navy-like fashion, fumbled the ball away three times. They also passed for 135 yards, which would have been a season high for all of last season. This is not the Navy we all know and love and not one that is going to be able to compete in a deep AAC.
4. North Texas (-3 points)
For as much as the Mean Green impressed with their 31-13 season-opening win over UTEP, they took a bigger step backward in losing 48-10 to SMU, allowing 576 yards to the Mustangs.
5. Louisville (-3 points)
There are some losses that feel like they can be season-defining. Louisville’s 31-7 defeat at the hands of Syracuse could be one of those. With back-to-back Friday night games at UCF and home against Florida State upcoming, the Cardinals have little time to get up off the mat.
6. Oregon (-3 points)
We all saw it on Saturday. Oregon left little doubt as to how it measures up against the nation’s best in a 49-3 loss to Georgia.
Effective Strength Ratings
Georgia’s dominant win over Oregon only boosted its top positioning in the Effective Strength Ratings, which are a purely statistical strength indicator and a measurement of how a team over- or underperforms expectations. With the Bulldogs sitting at an ES rating of 49.4, it means they would be favored by almost 50 points over the average college football team (FBS and FCS). They also own a + 3.3-point edge over Alabama and a + 4.8-point edge over Ohio State, meaning that strength rating calculation would have Kirby Smart’s team as that big of a favorite over each team on a neutral field. Of note, no other team is within 10 points of the top 3. Also, interestingly, the ES ratings of Utah, Oklahoma and Miami are much lower than their Power Ratings, something to keep an eye on. However, remember that up until each team boasts three games, these ratings are mostly based on adjustments from last season and could change greatly once only 2022 data is used.
The Bettors Ratings are a reflection of what the betting markets think about the teams. My calculations for the opening of any season in this measurement are based on last year’s finishing position, any adjustments made to overall strength since the end of last season, plus any unusual futures markets differing from my projections. Alabama continues to be the team most respected by the markets, with a 2.1-point edge over Georgia (-46.8 to -44.7) and a 3.7-point edge over Ohio State (-46.8 to -43.1). In Bettors Ratings, the bigger the negative number the better. Two teams whose market value falls noticeably short of my Power Rating for them at this point are Utah and Arkansas.
The recent ratings, which designate the teams playing best in recent weeks, won’t be fully in effect until teams have played three or four games. For this week, they are very close to the Effective Strength Ratings, with Georgia sitting on top. Over the next two weeks, they will continue to be based upon manual adjustments.
Schedule Strength Ratings
The Schedule Strength Ratings reflect the difficulty of schedule each team has played. With just one, or in a few cases, two games being played to this point, it is a simple calculation. Having played against Georgia and Ohio State respectively, Oregon and Notre Dame top the SOS rankings. Fortunately for them, the schedule lightens up dramatically this week. Keep in mind that these ratings only include games versus FBS or FCS opponents.
Leading the way on my FCS Power Ratings is South Dakota State, which scores a 46 after nearly upsetting Iowa on Saturday. A close second is North Dakota State, which beat Drake 56-14 but dropped a bit based on what I believe is market correction, as I had them higher than what a typical top FCS team gets at this early point in the season. The Bison will get a chance to prove themselves more worthy next week when they face an Arizona team in a game that got much more interesting after the Wildcats’ whipping of San Diego State on the road. The FCS Power Ratings and all of the strength ratings on a game-by-game basis will be upgraded weekly for VSiN Pro subscribers.