CFB Strength Ratings update: Georgia takes top spot in 3 categories

November 15, 2022 10:30 AM
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The most recent weekend of college football saw the country’s top five teams flex their muscles while few title pretenders bowed out of the hunt. Three of the top teams were at home and posted easy 30-plus-point wins. However, the two most influential results were key road wins. Top-ranked Georgia posted an impressive victory at Mississippi State and, as a result, jumped to the top of the list in three of my rating sets. TCU, a 7-point dog at Texas, strengthened its hold on the final CFP spot with a 17-10 win. Let’s take a look at all the strength ratings and how the Week 11 results affected the numbers. 

Power Ratings 

Heading into the weekend, Georgia and Ohio State were even atop my power ratings. Ohio State, a 41-point favorite, beat Indiana by 42 points, doing exactly what it was expected to do. Georgia, on the other hand, posted a 26-point win at Mississippi State as a 16-point favorite. That slight difference was enough to push the Bulldogs to the top of the list, 75 to 74.5. With Alabama sitting at third in the PRs and most likely on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, it’s looking more and more like a two-team breakaway. Fourth-rated Tennessee sits 7.5 points behind Georgia, and Michigan is 8.5 points back. TCU is rated 15 points below the Bulldogs. In looking at the top CFP contenders for the upcoming weekend, four of the top five face underrated road tests. Michigan is the only one at home, hosting Illinois. 

Biggest upward Power Ratings movers after Week 11

1. Kansas State (+3.5 points)

Over its last three games, Kansas State has posted two incredibly impressive wins, the latest a 31-3 decision at Baylor. The Wildcats were a 2.5-point dog in the game and improved their record to 7-3, including 5-2 in the Big 12. Why is that important? It’s good enough for second in the conference and a spot in the league title game. All that stands in the way are games at West Virginia and home against Kansas.

2. Florida State (+3.5 points)

This is one I’m happy to be revealing as with the Seminoles' most recent win, a dominant 38-3 effort at Syracuse, my Over season win total of 6.5 on FSU officially cashes. Coach Mike Norvell clearly has this program headed back in the right direction. In their last two games, the Seminoles have outscored their opponents 83-6. Two home non-ACC games wrap up the season, against Louisiana and Florida. Two wins could land FSU in a high-profile bowl game.

3. TCU (+3 points)

Not sure if it was disrespect for TCU or an overrating of Texas, but in hindsight, the point spread attached to those teams’ game on Saturday in Austin now seems a bit ridiculous. The Horned Frogs just keep winning and at 10-0 have to get through a trip to Baylor and a home game versus Iowa State to head into the all-important Big 12 title game unbeaten. They will, of course, be playing for a trip to the CFP if that happens. Perhaps the biggest thing that came of TCU’s win at Texas was that the defense carried the day, holding the Longhorns to 199 yards. For the last nine weeks, it seemed like the offense made this team go.

4. Boise State (+3 points)

The Broncos have been relatively forgotten on a national scale this season after starting the season 2-2 and 0-3-1 ATS. However, in Mountain West play, they remain unbeaten and find themselves in their customary end-of-season spot in the standings. However, to make the MWC title game, they will have to win at Wyoming this weekend, as those two teams are separated by just a game in the standings, making this a de facto division title game. Fortunately, BSU comes off its best offensive outburst of the season in terms of yardage, as it put up 571 yards in a 41-3 win over Nevada. 

Biggest downward movers after Week 11

1. Miami of Ohio (-3.5 points)

Watching MACtion has been somewhat frustrating, particularly if you are wagering on the games based on anything the teams did the prior week thinking that they had built or lost momentum. The Redhawks played last Tuesday as 2-point home dogs to rival Ohio and were coming off a 27-9 rout of Akron. They didn’t respond well, allowing 556 yards of offense in losing 37-21.

2. Baylor (-3 points)

I mentioned Kansas State’s impressive win at Baylor on Saturday in the biggest upward movers section. The other side of the coin finds bitter disappointment for the Bears, as with so much on the line, including a spot in the league title game, they came up woefully short. This is a team that we’ve grown used to seeing playing very strong football at home. It was anything but against KSU in the 31-3 loss.

3. UCLA (-3 points) 

Outright losses as 20-point favorites have their consequences, and for UCLA, off a 34-28 home defeat to Arizona, it means a 3-point drawback. It could’ve been more, but the Bruins did outgain the Wildcats 465-436. Still, it was a crushing loss and one that dropped coach Chip Kelly’s team to fourth in the Pac-12 with just the top two making the league title game.

4. Kentucky (-3 points)

There was a time, at the end of September to be exact, when Kentucky was sitting at 4-0 with an impressive win over Florida on the resume and averaging 31.3 PPG. Since then, the Wildcats have gone 2-4 and have failed to top the 27-point mark. Quarterback Will Levis has taken an even bigger hit than the team’s season prospects, as he has looked nothing like the top NFL draft pick he has been projected to be. In fact, in the last three games, this team has averaged just 125.7 passing YPG. The regular season wraps up with tough home games against Georgia and Louisville. This team better get it turned around or 6-6 is on the horizon.

Effective Strength Ratings

Most teams have played all but two games of their 2022 regular-season schedule, thus we are getting to the point where the Effective Strength Ratings pretty much show exactly what the teams are from a statistical standpoint. In essence, the numbers don’t lie, and I am a big believer in these ratings, as well as those I use for calculating effective strength with yards per play. Georgia leads the country with an ESR of 47.7, which is equivalent to about a 76.5 PR. In other words, with Georgia having a 75 PR, are the Bulldogs still a bit underrated? Could be, but I have penalized them for a few lackluster outings. The ESR of 47.7 is 2.1 points better than Ohio State and 4.5 points ahead of Alabama, their potential opponent in the SEC title game. Should the opponent be LSU, the Bulldogs have a 16.5-point ESR edge on the Tigers. Tennessee (43.4) and Michigan (38.5) are next in line and will definitely have a say in what happens with the eventual CFP field. Interestingly, the Wolverines’ ESR of 38.5 is 7.1 points worse than Ohio State’s and with their upcoming game at Columbus, could we see a double-digit point spread? Other emerging teams to watch on the ESR list are Kansas State (9th), USC (11th), and Florida State (13th). At the bottom, Florida International regains the title of worst team in FBS football, having been outscored 104-21 the last two weeks. The Panthers’ Effective Strength Rating -16.7 is more than 64 points worse than Georgia and more than two points worse than any other team. Of note, the Mountain West occupies four of the bottom nine spots in the ESRs.

Bettors Ratings

Interestingly, my Bettors Ratings are the only performance indicators that don’t show Georgia on top. That honor goes to Ohio State, as it seems the markets currently respect the Buckeyes a bit more. Perhaps that changes somewhat over the next couple of weeks before Championship Saturday. The markets seem to love the Buckeyes more than the actual performance indicators do, and that could be a concern to keep an eye on as the Big Ten has been known to be a bit overrated by the pollsters and betting public when it comes to the playoffs. Currently, OSU’s BR is -48, 1.8 points better than Georgia’s. Alabama is No. 3 at -43.8, a full 6.6 points better than No. 4 Michigan. It’s been this way pretty much the entire season in the BRs as no team has been able to even get close to the top 3. In terms of other interesting BR notes, Syracuse, Arkansas State, Stanford and Old Dominion are the four teams whose BR rank is at least 20 spots higher than their current PR rank. In other words, overrated. The underrated list of teams with 20-spot ranking differences is Western Kentucky, Florida, Ohio and Florida Atlantic. On the opposite end of this strength indicator, you’ll find UMass as the lowest rated team, 0.7 points behind New Mexico State. However, both teams come off strong performances and could find their way out of the basement soon if the public latches on.

Recent Ratings

The deeper we get into any college football season, the more important the Recent Ratings become, as teams naturally go through ups and downs, and the teams that are playing best recently seem to be the biggest threats. Currently, the team with the highest RR is Georgia, with a 50.7 rating, the equivalent of a 79.2 Power Rating for recent play. That is 1.0 points better than Kansas State and 2.8 points higher than the third-ranked team in this strength indicator, Tennessee. Other teams that are playing very well right now and rounding out the top six in Recent Rating are Florida State, Michigan and LSU. If you’re wondering about Ohio State, the Big Ten favorites rank No. 7 in this key indicator, a potential reason for concern as they get ready to host Michigan on Nov. 26. At the bottom of the RRs, you’ll find the usual teams: FIU, Rice, New Mexico and Hawaii. The worst-performing Power 5 team of late is Stanford, with a RR of -5.1, which is equivalent to a 23.5 PR, well below Cardinal standards. The team playing best right comparatively to its overall season power rating is Temple. The team playing the worst in that regard is struggling Oklahoma State.

Schedule Strength Ratings

The Schedule Strength Ratings reflect the difficulty of each team’s 2022 schedule to this point. After its win over Texas A&M, Auburn holds the top spot in SSR. In other words, the Tigers have played a tougher schedule than any other team in 2022. It lightens up a bit this week with a home date against Western Kentucky but then will shoot back up with a season finale date at Alabama. Indiana, which just faced Ohio State last week, Colorado, Texas and Alabama round out the top 5 of the most difficult schedules faced to date. The FBS team that has played the easiest slate is New Mexico State, which has won three straight games. The Aggies' average opponent power rating has been 24.64, over 5.0 points lower than the next team, San Jose State. Of note, those teams’ game scheduled for Oct. 22 was postponed. Interestingly, Minnesota, a Big Ten team, remains the Power 5 team that has played the easiest schedule, an obvious point of concern as the Gophers finish their regular season with games against Iowa and Wisconsin.

FCS Teams

After watching South Dakota State roll again Saturday, I bumped the Jackrabbits up to a 42.5 Power Rating, 1.5 points better than the rest of the FCS competition. However, there are four other teams rated at 40 or higher, meaning we should have a very competitive FCS playoff bracket kicking off in a couple of weeks. Those four teams are Montana, Incarnate Word, Sacramento State and North Dakota State. Sacramento State tops the ESRs at 15.1 while SDSU maintains the top spot in the Bettors Ratings as well, with a BR of -14. The best team recently in FCS football is Montana, with a RR of 25.1. That rating would be equivalent to about a 53.5 Power Rating. Who has a 53-level PR right now in FBS? How about Louisville! Rounding out the FCS strength ratings analysis, you can dig and find that Eastern Washington (106th) and South Dakota (108th) have played the toughest schedules among the second-tier teams.

 

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