If you’re one of the many readers of VSiN’s Point Spread Weekly that have been with us since the opening of the 2017 football season, you will recognize my piece on College Football Stability Mismatches. In fact, in general, I personally tend to repeat several articles year after year and just update them with the most current year information. The reason for this is that, for the most part, the timing and methodologies beyond these articles are well-tested over the years and I steadfastly believe in the foundation of the principles they rely on. To me, they are winning strategies and the more of this type of logic you come to rely on in your own handicapping, the more successful you will be. With that in mind, one of the most anticipated pieces that I develop each year comes right out of the gate in Week 1 of the college football season, and that is this Stability Mismatch study.
In having worked with people of both sides of the betting window for many years, I have found that the amount of preseason preparation that people take on can vary greatly from book-to-book, from bettor-to-bettor. Because of this, there can be huge misses by those setting the numbers. Doing the homework early has become one of the most important aspects for college football bettors hoping to enjoy a successful campaign. Those bettors that scour the various betting publications, such as the VSiN College Football Betting Guide, before the season tend to be best prepared once week 1 rolls around.
There are many reasons why things can change dramatically from one season to the next in college football, among them the four year eligibility rules, the pressure now placed on coaching staffs at every level program and, of course, player transgressions off the feld. The result is that there is always signifcant turnover from year-to-year, both on the feld and on the sidelines. Bettors expecting to see the same thing they watched from a team at the end of the prior season are most often startled at the change. Being a numbers guys, I like to do an exercise I call quantifying the level of stability for each program.
I fgure that the higher level of stability, the better the chances for success for any team, particularly early in the season. Naturally putting a numerical grade to it makes it easier to spot stability mismatches. Now, the point spread considered, the feeling is that oddsmakers don’t adjust “enough” for the instability factors. Over the last several years, I have implemented an early season strategy that employs backing the teams with the greatest stability ratings and fading those in the most unstable situations.
I have done this for at least the last seven years, and I can tell you that in those seven years I have never experienced a losing record by playing the games on the lists for the four weeks of the season. Of course, these numbers can also be improved by factoring in other successful handicapping strategies as well, but as a stand-alone strategy, the success level is tough to beat.
Just below, I’ve once again put together a list of the Top College Football Stability Mismatches for Week 1 on the schedule. I have found that a Stability Mismatch score of 8 is the minimum on which I will consider a play for this thought process. For the rest of the frst month of the season, I will continue to offer the weekly mismatches for you to use. I typically believe that after 2-3 games for each team, oddsmakers are able to “catch-up” and fully adjust for the changes to the teams. However, you should feel comfortable in employing this strategy in the frst few weeks while the dust settles. Before showing the mismatch games, here are the basics for how we determine each team’s Total Stability Score.
In essence, the score is determined from fve different stabilizing factors, Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator, Quarterback and Overall Returning Starters. If you saw Point Spread Weekly Issue #51 a couple weeks ago, you’ll know that I also used instability in these areas to predict which teams would be better or worse in 2019. You will fnd a breakdown of all 130 FBS teams and their Stability Scores on the chart at the conclusion of this article, but in short, here is how the scores are determined
If you analyze the chart of the 130 FBS teams, you’ll see that there are many teams this season in very unsettling situations. In fact, there are seven teams with Stability Scores of 5 or less. Georgia Tech and UMass in particular, face the biggest challenges, with nationwide low scores of 1. The Yellow Jackets have the daunting task of taking on defending national champion Clemson on Thursday night. Ohio State and West Virginia are probably the biggest names on the rebuild list. On the other hand, there are three teams that post a score of 18 for 2019: BYU, Hawaii and Western Michigan. Considering that 19 is the max score, those programs fgure to be in good shape for the coming season.
What we are really interested in is fnding spots where this information is most useful, and from my experience, looking for mismatches in stability is a great way to do it. We do this by simply comparing the Stability Scores of the two teams in a given matchup and calculating the difference. The larger the number, the bigger the supposed mismatch. Now, this doesn’t mean that the team with the higher Stability Score is the better team, just that they are more stable. We are then making the assumption that oddsmakers have not accounted for this factor enough when setting their lines.
That said, here are the Top 10 College Football Stability Mismatches for 2019 Week 1. For the record, last year’s 12 games in week 1 played out to an 8-4 ATS record. Hopefully we see the same, or even better success in 2019.