Rating are selective, not absolute

By Bruce Marshall  () 

Some might make power ratings sound terribly complicated. The truth is much less dramatic. The concept is fairly simple and straightforward: Power ratings just try to measure the relative strengths of teams compared with one another.
Doing them the best, however, is the trick. You must have a working knowledge of the teams’ strengths and weaknesses.
The toughest ratings are at the beginning of any season. One convenience in formulating those is to use the rating from the end of the previous campaign. That provides a good route to arrive at an initial power rating, effectively comparing the team to its most recent version. Stronger? Weaker? How much stronger or weaker? Basically the same?
Whatever the determination, you must be quick to adjust. Perceptions, especially early, are often off the mark, and performances soon become the barometer. But be careful of the tendency to overreact too much in the opening weeks as well. Still, adjusting ratings as we go along remains important, while monitoring posted spreads and their movements contributes to the process.
Ratings are always subjective and not absolute. Oddsmakers can be slow to react to changes, especially if the wagering public — which effectively sets the price — is slow to react. Still, ratings are a guide and a necessity used by every oddsmaker in the business.
The more subjective variable is home-field or home-court value. The old general rule in football was to allow three points and adjust slightly as situations and results dictate. I have always found this calculation a bit more elusive, even though it doesn’t vary much from team to team. For some teams, playing at home might be no benefit at all; some simply play better on the road. I have often been more flexible than most with the home-court or home-field calculation. I have sometimes put that at zero and been tempted to even post a minus number. As you see from last football season, at least, we didn’t deviate much on the home values, with three being very prevalent.
For basketball, four usually takes the place of three as the standard measure, though it’s more likely to strengthen that number upward in hoops — five or six is not uncommon. Still, I have always thought home value to be a more elusive calculation than the power rating itself, as we’re often giving points to teams that might not deserve them.
As for making a point spread? Using power ratings to set a preliminary number on a game is also rather simple: Just measure the teams’ ratings against one another, adjust for the value and arrive at an initial spread. And then see how it feels and make any adjustments to the marketplace.
Listed below are the final power ratings from The Gold Sheet from last college football season. We have found it easier through the years for the range to go into the minus numbers for the strongest teams in an inverse fashion. That’s why Louisiana State ended the football season at a -27 rating. We just find it easier to record it that way than to give LSU or the better teams a higher number on the positive side.
HFV=Home-field value; CR=Current Rating (in this case final rating); SUR=Straight-up record; PSR=Point-spread record
The Gold Sheet 2019 College Football Power Ratings
 
HFV TEAM CR SUR PSR
3 Air Force 3 11-2 8-5
2 Akron 49 0-12 1-11
3 Alabama -15 11-2 7-6
3 Appalachian St. 1 13-1 9-5
3 Arizona 19 4-8 3-9
3 Arizona State 9 8-5 5-8
2 Arkansas 25 2-10 5-7
3 Arkansas State 15 8-5 6-7
2 Army 15 5-7 5-7
4 Auburn -2 9-4 9-4
2 Ball State 18 5-7 7-5
3 Baylor -3 11-3 9-5
4 Boise State 3 12-2 8-6
2 Boston College 13 6-7 7-6
2 Bowling Green 41 3-9 3-9
3 Buffalo 11 8-5 8-5
2 BYU 13 7-6 4-9
3 California 12 8-5 7-6
3 Central Mich. 17 8-6 10-4
3 Charlotte 20 7-6 6-7
2 Cincinnati 4 11-3 9-5
4 Clemson -20 14-1 11-4
2 Coast. Carolina 24 5-7 7-5
4 Colorado 16 5-7 6-6
2 Colorado State 16 4-8 7-5
2 Connecticut 36 2-10 5-7
2 Duke 16 5-7 4-6-2
2 East Carolina 25 4-8 6-6
3 Eastern Mich. 17 6-7 6-6-1
3 Florida -5 11-2 8-5
3 Fla. Atlantic 4 11-3 10-4
3 Florida Intl. 17 6-7 4-9
2 Florida State 11 6-7 5-8
3 Fresno State 13 4-8 3-8-1
3 Georgia -10 12-2 8-6
3 Ga. Southern 22 7-6 6-7
3 Georgia State 19 7-6 6-6-1
3 Georgia Tech 21 3-9 3-8-1
4 Hawaii 13 10-5 8-7
2 Houston 18 4-8 6-6
3 Illinois 13 6-7 8-5
3 Indiana 8 8-5 8-5
4 Iowa 0 10-3 7-6
3 Iowa State 5 7-6 6-7
2 Kansas 23 3-9 5-7
3 Kansas State 4 8-5 9-4
3 Kent State 18 7-6 9-4
3 Kentucky 6 8-5 9-4
2 La.-Lafayette 8 11-3 9-5
3 La.-Monroe 19 5-7 4-8
3 Liberty 21 8-5 8-5
2 Louisiana Tech 11 10-3 8-5
2 Louisville 10 8-5 8-5
4 LSU -27 15-0 11-4
3 Marshall 14 8-5 4-9
3 Maryland 28 3-9 5-7
2 Massachusetts 53 1-11 2-9-1
3 Memphis 0 12-2 6-7-1
2 Miami 12 6-7 6-7
3 Miami (Ohio) 19 8-6 7-7
3 Michigan -2 9-4 7-6
3 Michigan State 10 7-6 4-9
3 Middle Tenn. 20 4-8 6-6
3 Minnesota -1 11-2 7-4-2
2 Mississippi 8 4-8 8-3-1
3 Mississippi St. 12 6-7 4-9
3 Missouri 8 6-6 4-8
4 Navy 2 10-2 9-3
3 Nebraska 11 5-7 3-9
2 Nevada 23 7-6 6-7
1 New Mexico 30 2-10 3-9
2 New Mexico St. 36 2-10 5-7
3 North Carolina 5 7-6 7-5-1
2 No. Carolina St. 24 4-8 2-10
3 North Texas 20 4-8 3-9
3 N. Illinois 22 5-7 7-5
2 Northwestern 17 3-9 3-7-2
3 Notre Dame -4 11-2 9-4
2 Ohio 18 7-6 5-8
4 Ohio State -20 13-1 9-5
3 Oklahoma -6 12-2 5-9
3 Oklahoma St. 6 8-5 10-3
2 Old Dominion 36 1-11 4-8
3 Oregon -7 12-2 8-6
3 Oregon State 9 5-7 9-3
4 Penn State -8 11-2 7-6
3 Pittsburgh 10 8-5 7-6
3 Purdue 16 4-8 8-4
2 Rice 24 3-9 6-6
2 Rutgers 36 2-10 4-8
2 San Diego St. 11 10-3 8-5
3 San Jose State 19 5-7 7-4-1
3 SMU 8 10-3 8-5
1 South Alabama 32 2-10 7-5
3 South Carolina 13 4-8 5-7
2 South Florida 20 4-8 6-6
4 Southern Cal 7 8-5 7-6
3 Southern Miss 17 7-6 6-7
3 Stanford 16 4-8 3-9
3 Syracuse 18 5-7 4-8
3 TCU 8 5-7 4-8
2 Temple 12 8-5 8-5
3 Tennessee 5 8-5 7-6
3 Texas 3 8-5 7-6
3 Texas A&M 3 8-5 7-6
2 Texas State 30 3-9 3-8-1
3 Texas Tech 15 4-8 6-6
2 Toledo 25 6-6 3-8-1
3 Troy 22 5-7 4-8
3 Tulane 8 7-6 9-4
2 Tulsa 15 4-8 7-5
4 UAB 15 9-5 8-6
3 UCF -5 10-3 6-7
2 UCLA 13 4-8 5-7
2 UNLV 26 4-8 6-6
4 Utah -2 11-3 9-5
3 Utah State 17 7-6 7-6
1 UTEP 42 1-11 3-9
2 UTSA 30 4-8 7-5
3 Vanderbilt 25 3-9 3-9
2 Virginia 7 9-5 7-7    
3 Virginia Tech 6 8-5 6-7
3 Wake Forest 15 8-5 6-7
3 Washington -5 8-5 8-5
4 Washington St. 9 6-7 4-9
3 West Virginia 13 5-7 5-6-1
2 Western Ky 10 9-4 8-4-1
3 Western Mich. 13 7-6 5-7-1
3 Wisconsin -6 10-4 8-6
3 Wyoming 10 8-5 8-5
 
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