Adam Burke shares his weekly college football power ratings
Week 3 of the college football season is uncharacteristically light on games with significant meaning, as it is a pretty weak card top to bottom. However, there are a lot of individual teams with questions to answer this week. We now have two or three data points for nearly every college football team and this is the time of year where a lot of interpretation comes into play.
There was so much emphasis placed on the difference between Week 1 and Week 2 that everybody seems to be extremely cautious about not overreacting. One game can be an outlier. Two games feels like a trend. So, what we see in Week 3 is really important. Bettors and bookmakers will completely write off and dismiss teams if they play poorly for a third straight week or really elevate the profiles of teams that shine once again.
Personally, I’m trying to thread the needle a little bit right now. There are some teams that have really impressed me and others that have done the polar opposite. I’ve made some more aggressive adjustments to my numbers this week, while also trying to keep in mind that it’s still early in the season.
Then again, with the 12-game college football schedule, teams have already played about 17% of their regular season games. That’s what makes college football tricky to handicap sometimes and certainly higher-variance than the NFL or any other major sport.
Just to refresh everybody’s memory - my process has three steps. I compare my line to the closing number, study the box score, and dig for injury intel. The box score not only includes the final score, but also looking at drive logs, turnover margin, field position, and several other factors, especially yards per play. Sometimes a team will dominate a game, but go -3 in turnovers and give up a short field or leave points out there and all of the sudden, they end up on the short end of the stick. Other times, a team won’t do much of anything, but have a defensive score or two and wind up with a misleading victory.
It’s all part of the inexact science that is creating your own numbers. I’ve dug into the data and not only evaluated this past week’s game, but the full body of work to come up with this week’s 1 through 131 rankings and my Week 3 spreads.
Here are my Week 3 College Football Power Ratings:
Here are my Week 3 power ratings adjustments:
Up: Kansas +4, Indiana +2.5, Wake Forest +2, Notre Dame +3, Syracuse +1.5, Ball State +2, Cincinnati +2.5, Colorado +9, Washington State +2, Miami (FL) +2.5, SMU +1.5, Sam Houston State +3, Texas State +3, Kansas State +2, Ole Miss +1.5, Northwestern +1.5, Rice +2.5, Arizona +3, Georgia Southern +2, FIU +2, Georgia State +2, UCF +2, Texas +2.5, Rutgers +3.5, Florida State +3, Cal +2, Toledo +2, Oregon State +2.5, Penn State +1, Virginia +2, Liberty +2, UAB +2, Ohio +2, Army +2, Utah State +2
Down: Illinois -3.5, Vanderbilt -2, NC State -3, Western Michigan -1.5, East Carolina -2, Pitt -1, Nebraska -2.5, Baylor -5 (Shapen + adj), Wisconsin -5, Tulsa -3, Texas A&M -3.5, Iowa State -3, UTSA -3, Troy -1, Arkansas -3, UTEP -4, Missouri -2, Houston -2, Florida Atlantic -3.5, Louisiana -3, North Texas -6, UConn -3, Arkansas State -5, Alabama -3.5, Temple -3, Auburn -2.5, Boston College -3.5, Ohio State -2, Kentucky -2, Buffalo -3, Akron -2, Nevada -3.5, Georgia -1.5, Texas Tech -2, Virginia Tech -2, Central Michigan -2, Iowa -1.5, Coastal Carolina -2, Mississippi State -1, Air Force -2, Navy -2.5
Injury: UCF -7 (Plumlee OUT - playing FCS team this week), Tulane -6 (Pratt)*, Stanford -4 (Daniels)*, Akron -5 (Irons)*
- if out
Some notes on the biggest movers:
Colorado +9: Yeah, another week, another upgrade. I’ve upgraded Colorado 16.5 points to this point, which is the biggest adjustment I’ve ever made in the first two weeks of the season. Still a couple points short on the line against Colorado State, but I’m content with where I have them.
Kansas +4: They looked great against Illinois with Jalon Daniels back in the fold and it looks like another impressive season on the horizon for Lance Leipold’s bunch.
Rutgers +3.5: Guess I need to give credit where credit is due. The Rutgers defense has been suffocating through two games and they’ve even added a little offensive punch. Also, I was way too low on my Temple/Rutgers line and adjusted both teams accordingly after being dead wrong on the game.
Notre Dame +3: I wanted to hold off on getting too excited about Sam Hartman off the Navy game, but he was slinging it under some tough conditions with the weather delays in the blowout win over NC State. This team looks like a force and I’m worried as an Ohio State fan for next week’s game.
UCF -7: A late update here on Monday morning, but John Rhys Plumlee is out "a few weeks" for UCF after suffering a lower-body injury. To be honest, seven points may not be enough, but they play Villanova this week, so I can re-assess heading into Week 4 against Kansas State.
North Texas -6: This team is bad. I had a much higher line for North Texas/Cal in Week 1 and made too many wrong adjustments to be closer to market, thinking I was wrong about one or both teams. After what North Texas did against FIU last week, I had to significantly drop the Mean Green.
Arkansas State -5: This is the worst team in college football. Full stop.
Baylor -5: The Blake Shapen injury doesn’t help, but the Bears look like they’ve regressed quite a bit this season.
Wisconsin -5: Guess I was too high on Wisconsin. My win total projection was a full win over the market. My lines have been wrong. Their performance hasn’t been great. They did a pretty good job against Cameron Ward, but it seems like I was a year early being optimistic about this team.
UTEP -4: Holy ish, how bad is this team? The Week 0 loss to Jacksonville State? A 38-7 loss to Northwestern? Dana Dimel’s going to lose his job and possibly the team with it.
Illinois -3.5: Another drop for this team. They have issues on both sides of the ball and they were getting hammered by Kansas before the Jayhawks let off the gas a bit.
Alabama -3.5: Jalen Milroe isn’t a great passer and the Tide don’t have the wide receivers to overcome it like they’ve had in the past. The defense also got torched over the top with regularity.
Boston College -3.5: You can read down further about this team, but they gave up nearly seven yards per carry to Holy Cross. That seems bad.
Texas A&M -3.5: Righting a wrong here, as I had Texas A&M a 5.5-point favorite and the line closed 2.5 as they lost badly at Miami. Easy decision to drop them down and they’re going to have to bite the huge financial bullet and fire Jimbo Fisher.
Here are my Week 3 lines:
Games to consider based on my Power Ratings (by date/rotation number):
Florida State (-28.5 / -36) at Boston College: This is a massive road number, especially with the Clemson game on deck, but I felt like Florida State would peel back last week against Southern Miss and they very much did not. Boston College’s two data points this season are losing to a Northern Illinois team that just lost to Southern Illinois and giving up 264 rushing yards and 6.8 yards per carry to Holy Cross in a 31-28 win.
Ohio (+2.5 / -1) vs. Iowa State: Ohio welcomes Iowa State to Athens and it will be the first home game on campus of the season. The Bobcats had a thoroughly impressive defensive performance last week against an FAU team I was fairly high on and Kurtis Rourke will be the best offensive player on the field in this game.
Kansas State (-5.5 / -7.5) at Missouri: Short of the key number of 7, I think Kansas State is a pretty good bet here. Missouri looked very pedestrian against Middle Tennessee and K-State rolled a pretty damn good Troy team.
North Carolina (-6.5 / -9) vs. Minnesota: Here’s another one where I think getting in short of the key number makes sense. I’m very low on Minnesota and they have managed just 4.74 yards per play this season. They’re going to have problems keeping up with UNC I think.
South Alabama (+8.5 / +4.5) at Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State only had 4.83 YPP against Arizona State last week and led Central Arkansas 13-7 after three quarters in the opener. The Bears went 5-6 last season and lost 59-3 to Ole Miss in their only FBS test. I was high on South Alabama coming into the season and this is a “prove it” game for me. If they fall short here, a big adjustment will come after Week 3.
Toledo (-8 / -12) vs. San Jose State: Weird spot here for San Jose State traveling to the Glass Bowl. I may be a little too low on the Spartans here, but Toledo has really impressed me. They maybe should’ve beaten Illinois in Week 1 and then hung an enormous number on Texas Southern last week. Dequan Finn looks healthy and productive. Maybe the Over is the bet here, but I think Toledo is interesting as well.
Northern Illinois (+13 / +8.5) at Nebraska: The Blackshirts played great defense for a while last week, but ultimately fell apart and now have a serious QB problem on their hands. Northern Illinois lost to a quality FCS program in Southern Illinois, so I think there’s some hidden value on the Huskies here. They also had a big yardage edge in that game, but finished -3 in TO and missed two field goals.
UAB (-1 / -5) vs. Louisiana: This is one of my favorite plays of the week. UAB QB Jacob Zeno has an 84.5% completion rate (71-of-84) through two weeks with a 5/1 TD/INT ratio. I thought the QB position was an issue last season for the Blazers, but it isn’t under Trent Dilfer’s watch this season. Louisiana, meanwhile, just lost to Old Dominion and gave up 38 points on 54 offensive plays.
If you ever have questions about the power ratings process, you can find me on X as @SkatingTripods or email aburke [at] vsin [dot] com.