Effective college football Yards Per Play stats yield betting opportunities

September 25, 2023 07:45 PM

Effective college football Yards Per Play stats yield opportunities

The early part of the college football season can prove difficult for many bettors since most of the games played through this point have been nonconference matchups, and it’s a challenge to weigh teams’ schedule strengths against their raw stats to gauge overall strength.

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Most Group of Five teams have played tougher schedules against the Power Five foes and vice versa, with just some select premium nonconference and conference games sprinkled in. For instance, we know that teams like Georgia, USC, and Michigan have beaten up some inferior opponents so far, while Florida State, Texas, and Alabama have been challenged by stiffer slates. But now with conference play starting in earnest, how will these stack up? Do the experts have their strength levels gauged properly? These are just some of the tough questions facing betters right now.

Fortunately, I have statistical measures I use to calculate the actual strength of teams against the level of opponents they have played. These are called my Effective Stats, and they would be described as similar to the popular DVOR ratings or the RPI numbers in college basketball. I use these Effective Stats to help determine my Power Ratings and other key indicators.

For the purposes of the exercise in this article, what I am going to be determining and sharing with you are the teams whose current Effective Yards Per Play (EYPP) stats signify that they might be significantly better or worse than the current perception of them. I believe this is a good way to find overrated and underrated teams to take advantage of in the next few games. I will also be using a formula for comparing the teams in this week’s games by their EYPP numbers to see if there might be any point spread value.

I've taken my Effective Offensive/Defensive Yards Per Play figures and assigned them an equivalent power rating on the scale I currently use. I then took these EYPP Equivalent Ratings and compared them to my current Power Ratings, which are based heavily upon betting markets and perception.

The assumption being made is that if the Effective Yards Per Play Equivalent Rating is higher than the average SM power rating, that team is playing better currently than its perceived strength, and vice versa.

Does this mean that the teams playing better should automatically be “play on” teams in the coming weeks, or those playing worse should be faded? Not necessarily, as there could be other factors affecting each team’s perceived ability. However, I’ll try to detail some of the key factors to consider as I analyze each team situation. For instance, I can think of seven factors off the top of my head that would have a lesser impact on an odds maker’s, analyst’s, or fan’s perception of a team’s strength when compared to analyzing records and/or scores. These would include:

Turnovers: Nothing changes a score or perception of a game more quickly than turnovers. Teams on the positive end of the turnover battle in games may not be as good as advertised, and vice versa, as in many cases, turnovers can be a matter of fortune.

Sacks for/against a team: Quarterback sacks can be very influential plays in games that lead to uncomfortable down and distance settings. This naturally leads to atypical play calling, which can in turn lead to misrepresentations of the team’s tendencies and strengths.

Third down success: There are very few other statistics where success or lack thereof run parallel than the third down conversion indicator. On both sides of the ball, how a team fares on third down directly impacts the scoreboard.

Strength of schedule: Teams can play well and get beat handily or play lousy and still survive a game, simply dependent upon whom they played against. These types of results might not harm or help a team’s perceived strength level adequately for those simply looking at scores and records. However, they do show up in my Effective Stats.

Time of possession: How much a team possesses the ball in a game or over the course of a season can be an overrated statistic. With most teams operating pass-happy offenses and calling plays at the line of scrimmage rather than in a huddle, long drives can prove scarce. The ability to hit big plays on offense seems like the preferred result nowadays when long drives used to be paramount. Defenses try to yield those big plays while causing turnovers and forcing teams into long down-and-distance situations.

Penalties: The amount of times/yards a team is penalized in a game, and perhaps more importantly, the timing of these penalties, can influence down & distance, play-calling, and thus results.

“Calling the dogs off” after a game has been decided: In games that aren’t competitive, teams may choose to go to second & third string players, while also changing their previous attacking strategy to a conservative one. All of these can skew final numbers.

Five Teams with Effective Yards Per Play equivalent power ratings at least 10 points better than their perceived strength. These teams might be considered "underrated" at this point.

1. NEW MEXICO STATE - Differential: +17.7           

SM PR: 26    

Effective YPP Power Rating: 43.7

2. WASHINGTON - Differential: +17.2

SM PR: 64.5

Effective YPP Power Rating: 81.7

3. UCLA - Differential: +14.9        

SM PR: 54.5

Effective YPP Power Rating: 69.4

4. TEXAS STATE - Differential: +14.6

SM PR: 37    

Effective YPP Power Rating: 51.6

5. COLORADO STATE - Differential: +11.8  

SM PR: 33    

Effective YPP Power Rating: 44.8

Five Teams with Effective Yards Per Play equivalent power ratings at least 11.4 points worse than their perceived strength. Theoretically, these teams would be considered potentially overrated.

1. NC STATE - Differential: -16.2

SM PR: 45    

Effective YPP Power Rating: 28.8

2. CENTRAL MICHIGAN - Differential: -14

SM PR: 36.5

Effective YPP Power Rating: 22.5

3. PENN STATE - Differential: -13.9       

SM PR: 66    

Effective YPP Power Rating: 52.1

4. OKLAHOMA STATE - Differential: -12.2       

SM PR: 44    

Effective YPP Power Rating: 31.8

5. MARYLAND - Differential: -11.4          

SM PR: 51.5

Effective YPP Power Rating: 40.1

As of Monday, September 25, these are the top and bottom 10 teams in Effective Yards Per Play Differential, Effective Offensive Yards per Play, and Effective Defensive Yards Per Play.

Top 10 Effective Yards Per Play Differential

  1. WASHINGTON: +5.52
  2. NOTRE DAME: +4.44
  3. OHIO STATE: +4.29
  4. UCLA: +4.21
  5. OLE MISS: +4.2
  6. OREGON: +4.12
  7. USC: +3.99
  8. TEXAS: +3.79
  9. MIAMI (FL): +3.54
  10. UCF: +3.31

Bottom 10 Effective Yards Per Play Differential

  1. NEVADA: -1.91
  2. BUFFALO: -1.68
  4. SAM HOUSTON ST: -1.02
  5. SOUTHERN MISS: -0.95
  6. KENT STATE: -0.91
  8. BALL STATE: -0.79
  9. NORTH TEXAS: -0.66

Top 10 Effective Offensive Yards per Play:

  1. WASHINGTON: 10.17
  2. USC: 9.24
  3. LSU: 8.35
  4. NOTRE DAME: 8.34
  5. OLE MISS: 8.32
  6. OREGON: 8.21
  7. UCF: 8.19
  8. MIAMI (FL) 8.19
  10. LOUISVILLE: 8.11

Bottom 10 Effective Offensive Yards per Play:

  4. EAST CAROLINA: 4.69
  6. OHIO U: 4.75
  7. CONNECTICUT: 4.76
  8. AKRON: 4.86
  9. BALL STATE: 4.93
  10. IOWA: 5.04

Top 10 Effective Defensive Yards Per Play:

  1. UCLA: 3.53
  2. OHIO STATE: 3.69
  3. PENN STATE: 3.72
  4. IOWA: 3.81
  5. NOTRE DAME: 3.9
  6. CLEMSON: 3.92
  7. ALABAMA: 3.92
  8. TENNESSEE: 3.92
  9. TEXAS: 3.97
  10. IOWA STATE 4.02

Bottom 10 Effective Defensive Yards Per Play:

  1. NEVADA: 7.52
  2. NORTH TEXAS: 6.91
  4. BUFFALO: 6.85
  6. NEW MEXICO: 6.41
  8. SOUTHERN MISS: 6.26
  10. UAB: 6.09

Comparing the EYPP equivalent ratings to the actual Week 5 lines:

As far as actionable items, here are the top 15 games for this weekend’s games, as far differential of EYPP ratings versus actual point spreads. Track these games to see how they fare.


Actual Line: TEXAS STATE -7

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: TEXAS STATE -28.2  

Difference: 21.2 - Favors: TEXAS STATE 


2. (135) BAYLOR at (136) UCF   

Actual Line: UCF -11        

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: UCF -31.3

Difference: 20.3 - Favors: UCF


3. (113) LOUISVILLE at (114) NC STATE        

Actual Line: LOUISVILLE -3       

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: LOUISVILLE -21.5         

Difference: 18.5 - Favors: LOUISVILLE


4. (201) LSU at (202) OLE MISS 

Actual Line: OLE MISS +2.5       

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: OLE MISS -14.1 

Difference: 16.6 - Favors: OLE MISS


5. (131) TROY at (132) GEORGIA STATE    

Actual Line: TROY +3      

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: TROY -13 

Difference: 16 - Favors: TROY


6. (159) LA LAFAYETTE at (160) MINNESOTA          

Actual Line: LA LAFAYETTE +10         

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: LA LAFAYETTE -3.7     

Difference: 13.7 - Favors: LA LAFAYETTE


7. (151) BUFFALO at (152) AKRON      

Actual Line: AKRON -3    

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: AKRON -16.4      

Difference: 13.4 - Favors: AKRON


8. (119) CINCINNATI at (120) BYU        

Actual Line: CINCINNATI +3      

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: CINCINNATI -10 

Difference: 13 - Favors: CINCINNATI


9. (175) WASHINGTON at (176) ARIZONA      

Actual Line: WASHINGTON -18

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: WASHINGTON -29.1     

Difference: 11.1 - Favors: WASHINGTON


10. (103) MIDDLE TENN ST at (104) W KENTUCKY 

Actual Line: MIDDLE TENN STATE +7        

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: MIDDLE TENN STATE -3.6 

Difference: 10.6 - Favors: MIDDLE TENN STATE


11. (147) S ALABAMA at (148) JAMES MADISON    

Actual Line: S ALABAMA +3.5  

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: S ALABAMA -6.8           

Difference: 10.3 - Favors: S ALABAMA



Actual Line: MISSISSIPPI STATE +14.5      

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: MISSISSIPPI STATE +4.4    

Difference: 10.1 - Favors: MISSISSIPPI STATE


13. (163) MICHIGAN at (164) NEBRASKA       

Actual Line: NEBRASKA +18    

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: NEBRASKA +8.4           

Difference: 9.6 - Favors: NEBRASKA


14. (203) MISSOURI at (204) VANDERBILT    

Actual Line: MISSOURI -13        

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: MISSOURI -21.8 

Difference: 8.8 - Favors: MISSOURI


15. (121) PENN STATE at (122) NORTHWESTERN          

Actual Line: NORTHWESTERN +25.5 

Effective Yards Per Play PR Line: NORTHWESTERN +17.4         

Difference: 8.1 - Favors: NORTHWESTERN

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