Adam Burke shares his weekly college football power ratings
The college football regular season will be more than halfway over when this week wraps up. This is Week 7 of 13, with Week 14 reserved for conference championship games. The only teams not past the midpoint of the season will be Army and Navy, who have Week 15 just for them with the annual rivalry game on December 9.
This past week shed some light on the “who’s elite?” discussion that I’ve been having and many people have been having. The answers appear to be Georgia and Michigan, but the Wolverines have not been tested yet. Georgia finally got a test from Kentucky and it looked like two teams playing two different games of football. Maybe Oklahoma can be an elite team, but the Sooners did give up 527 yards to Texas and that game was very close to going a lot differently. Maybe Oregon or Washington are elite. We’ll find out this weekend.
This past week also shed some more light on how all the teams in the middle are hard to gauge. The spread of talent across the country is better than ever, but the coaching may be worse in terms of game and clock management. Inconsistency rules the roost for the vast majority of CFB teams, like this example of the “transitive property of college football”.
Miami (FL) beat Miami (OH) 38-3 in Week 1. The RedHawks just shut out Bowling Green 27-0 and held the Falcons to under 200 yards one week after BG went on the road and beat Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets just upset the Hurricanes this past weekend thanks to the now-viral coaching misstep from Mario Cristobal.
There are other examples, but this one seems to be the most entertaining at present. The hope would be that the cream rises to the top going forward and that might be something of a safe assumption because the nation’s better teams are usually the deeper teams and there are a lot of quarterback injuries and controversies out there, not to mention ongoing attrition in the trenches and at other positions. It’s no longer “early”, so we should start to see some more consistency, at least from the country’s better programs. That won’t be true of all of them.
Between my power ratings, the lines in the market, and power ratings from other people whose work I greatly respect, I think we’re all going through the same struggle to try and accurately rate what we’re seeing. I have some bigger discrepancies in my numbers here in Week 7 than I typically would at this time of the season, but that’s going to happen in a higher-variance environment like the 2023 college football season. I just hope to be right on more of them than not.
Here are my Week 7 College Football Power Ratings:
Here are my Week 7 power ratings adjustments:
Up: New Mexico State +2, Sam Houston State +1, Louisiana Tech +3, Marshall +1, North Carolina +3, Toledo +1.5, Georgia +1.5, Boston College +2, Louisville +2, Georgia Tech +2, Virginia Tech +4, Tulsa +1, North Texas +1.5, UTSA +1, Buffalo +2.5, Eastern Michigan +1.5, Miami (OH) +2, Missouri +3, Oklahoma +1, Iowa State +2, Wyoming +2, Utah State +2.5, Arizona +2.5, UCLA +2, Texas Tech +2, Troy +2, Mississippi State +2, Texas A&M +1, UConn +2, UAB +1.5, Louisiana +2.5, BYU +2
Down: Liberty -2, Western Kentucky -2, Kansas State -3, UMass -1, Army -5.5, Notre Dame -2, Clemson -2, Miami (FL) -3, Florida State -1, Florida Atlantic -1, Navy -4, Temple -1, Akron -5, Central Michigan -1.5, Ball State -4, LSU -1, Ohio State -2.5, TCU -6, Fresno State -2.5, Colorado State -2.5, USC -2.5, Ole Miss -2, Western Michigan -2, Rice -2, South Florida -1.5, Northwestern -3, Washington State -2, Syracuse -3, Oregon State -2, Wisconsin -1.5, Texas -1.5, Middle Tennessee -2, Kentucky -2, Florida -2
Injury: UCF -5 (Plumlee)*, Duke -8 (Leonard)*, Utah +4 (Rising)*
Some notes on the biggest movers:
Virginia Tech +4: My line was 31 last week and the market closed 24, so I’m either too low on Virginia Tech or too high on Florida State. It’s probably some of both and in moving Florida State only down one point, my line is high for their game this week. But, Virginia Tech has shown improvement and they have a better chance with Kyren Drones playing well, so I gave them a bump.
Missouri +3: Brady Cook seems pretty healthy right now and the Tigers are playing at a high level, at least on offense. They deserve a bump, but they do have some ongoing defensive questions.
North Carolina +3: UNC took Syracuse to the woodshed and then went back to beat them some more last week. I mentioned early in the year that a team with Drake Maye at QB that got any kind of defensive competency would be dangerous and that is precisely what the Tar Heels are.
Georgia +1.5: Georgia wasn’t that big of a mover, but I now have the Bulldogs 3.5 points of any other FBS team on a neutral, so I figured I’d mention them here.
TCU -6: The Horned Frogs have lost to West Virginia and Iowa State in consecutive weeks, but this has a lot to do with Chandler Morris injury. After losing Max Duggan to the NFL, Morris took over, as he was the starter at the start of last season. Morris hurt his MCL in the loss to Iowa State and it will be JJ Hoover’s offense now. BTW, my line is still high against BYU this week.
Army -5.5: My line was all out of whack for this week against Boston College and the Black Knights lost outright, so they get a big push down. I was actually too high on Navy as well, so the Middies got a four-point drop.
Akron -5: Giving up 55 points to Northern Illinois is embarrassing. DJ Irons is also hurt again for Akron, so maybe this drop isn’t even big enough. My line for this week’s game against Central Michigan implies that it is not, though the Chips also dropped in my PRs.
Ball State -4: Ball State was an overlay of mine last week, as I had them favored at Eastern Michigan and they lost by two touchdowns. I don’t think EMU is any good, so this was a particularly damning loss for the Cardinals.
Kansas State -3: Remember the transitive property of college football? Oklahoma State lost 33-7 at home to South Alabama, who lost to Central Michigan the following week. Kansas State looked awful in that game and this is a team going in reverse quickly at this point.
Northwestern -3: Northwestern got outgained at home by FCS Howard in last week’s 23-20 win. Starting QB Ben Bryant didn’t play, but Howard lost by 10 to Eastern Michigan earlier this season. The Wildcats have had a real roller coaster ride this season, but this was a valley and not a peak.
Miami (FL) -3: These are my least favorite teams to rate. Miami has a ton of talent and an ignoramus for a head coach. Kind of a running theme down there since they felt like going 9-3 every year under Mark Richt wasn’t good enough.
Ohio State -2.5: This one hurts, but it is eminently clear that Michigan is the class of the Big Ten. The Buckeyes are now a 3.5-point dog in that game for me and they have major offensive line and quarterback injuries. Kyle McCord is missing open dudes and not getting the ball out quickly enough. The OL is not a National Championship-caliber group right now. The Buckeyes got dropped in my PRs.
Here are my Week 7 lines:
Games to consider based on my Power Ratings (by date/rotation number):
FIU (+2 / -4) vs. UTEP: UTEP is coming off of a bye here and Gavin Hardison may be nearing a return, but the Miners played so poorly going into the bye week that I’ve downgraded them a lot and they have a lame-duck head coach in Dana Dimel.
West Virginia (-3.5 / -7) at Houston: This may be a little optimistic on West Virginia, especially since they have a good record with the 105th-ranked offense by yards per play, but they’ve got a top-30 defense and Houston has allowed 6.6 yards per play to Big 12 opponents so far with the step up in class from a conference standpoint.
Tulane (-3 / -8) at Memphis: Memphis is a poorly-coached team and Tulane is not, so I’ve downgraded Memphis this season while mostly leaving Tulane about where I had them coming into the season. The two offenses are nearly similar in yards per play, but Tulane’s defense is way stronger.
Tennessee (-3.5 / -6.5) vs. Texas A&M: I still think Tennessee is a pretty good team and the Vols are off of the bye to take on a Texas A&M crew that has a major Jimbo Fisher problem and a backup QB. I think this line is light.
Florida (+2 / -3) at South Carolina: Of the games listed here, this is the one I’m least excited about, but if a 3 popped, I’d have to consider Florida. Spencer Rattler covers up a lot of deficiencies on both sides of the ball for the Gamecocks. I don’t think Florida’s great either, but I’ll almost always mention when I have a “wrong team favored” line in my PRs.
Louisville (-8 / -14) at Pitt: Louisville’s potential hangover off of the Notre Dame game is the real reason I could think of for taking Pitt here. Former QB Phil Jurkovec already moved to tight end for the Panthers (Update: Narduzzi said Monday morning he won't play TE for them this season) and their offense is one of the worst in Power Five. As good as Pitt’s defensive stats are, Louisville is not that far behind with the way better offense.
Iowa State (+4 / -3) at Cincinnati: Admittedly, I don’t really know what Iowa State is, but I’ve been pretty underwhelmed with Cincinnati for the most part. They did rack up over 500 yards of offense against BYU. This is another game where I think Cincy’s struggles with the step up to the Big 12 may show itself.
James Madison (-3.5 / -7) vs. Georgia Southern: First big test since the Wisconsin game for GA Southern here. James Madison just keeps playing at a really high level. I thought the Dukes would fall back a bit this season, but they have not. This is an awesome Group of Five game and we’ll see if my line is better than the market number.
Ohio (-7 / -11.5) at Northern Illinois: Ohio is eighth in yards per play allowed and tied for fifth in scoring defense. I know NIU just hung 55 points on Akron, but Ohio is about 20 points better than Akron from a power rating standpoint. Kurtis Rourke and the Bobcat offense might be on the verge of taking off as well.
That said, my MAC numbers haven’t been great all season long, so I’m not sure I’ll dive in here. I do think NIU will be limited offensively, though.
UCLA (+4.5 / -0.5) at Oregon State: I don’t think people have adjusted Oregon State enough this season. This is a tough road environment for Dante Moore and we saw that pick six at the end of the first half against Wazzu, but Wazzu beat up on Oregon State for three quarters before taking the fourth quarter off. The Beavers did shut down a Utah team that badly needs Cam Rising back and then gave up 40 to a Cal offense that isn’t all that good. Maybe UCLA shouldn’t be favored, but they also shouldn’t be more than a field goal dog.
TCU (-5 / -11) vs. BYU: This is the game where I had a huge line discrepancy. Now, part of it is the aforementioned Morris injury for TCU. The other part is that I have downgraded BYU, especially off of their Big 12 performances. They were hammered by Kansas and were not the better team against Cincinnati, but won the turnover battle 2-0, plus a pick-six. I think this is a bit of a good buy-low spot on the Horned Frogs.
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.