Week 1 college football power ratings and game spreads

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

USATSI_18799496

Week 0 is in the books, which means that it is time to evaluate the performances of the 11 FBS teams that were in action. Before I get into my process of updating teams from a power ratings standpoint, I want to reiterate some key points from last week’s initial posting.

Power ratings are a living organism. They are always changing and adapting to different variables and they are never going to be perfect. The goal is that the lines in the market move towards the lines in your power ratings. If that is happening at a high rate, then your set of power ratings is pretty successful. If not, then there are additional adjustments that need to be made. (Read about how I make my power ratings HERE.)

Power ratings are designed to help get out in front of the market moves. The idea is that if your line on a game is -6 and the market line is -2.5, you can jump in and get a good number with the expectation that the line moves towards yours. Therefore, these are designed to really be utilized the most early in the week, which means making bets early in the week. That can be uncomfortable for some people, but the best indicator of future success is getting value relative to the closing line. That’s the practice we’re aiming for here.

Lastly, this is primarily designed to be an educational and informational tool. I’m looking for early-week bets to get good numbers, but I’m also trying to help readers look at different ways of approaching college football. Most bettors simply take whatever numbers are out there on game day. That isn’t the best strategy for success.

Now, let’s talk about the process I go through each week to update my power ratings. Before the games are even played, I figure out my lines for the following week. I want to avoid overreactions and having my numbers in place before the games are played will keep me from making too big of an adjustment.

Here is the three-step process I use to update my power ratings:

1. Compare my line with the closing line: The most efficient way to see if you had a good line on a game is to compare it with where the line closed. Millions of bets come in worldwide on these games and the closing line is going to be the best indicator of market perception and betting activity. If my line was -10 and the game closed -14, it is a sign that I need to adjust one or both of the teams. If my line was -10 and the game opened there, but closed -6, then I have to adjust.

2. Box score study: This one is really important in my mind. I go through and look at the box scores for every game. How did the game play out? What are the reasons it didn’t play to expectation? Was there a big turnover margin discrepancy? Did a team squander red-zone chances? Missed field goals? Interceptions deep in their own territory? What happened in that game that led to the final result? How much should I take that into account when adjusting a team?

This week’s shining example is Nevada vs. New Mexico State. Nevada won 23-12 and covered, but was + 5 in turnover margin and got outgained for the game. We usually see line moves against teams with misleading results and we see one here with Nevada this week.

3. Check for injuries: This is not easy in college football. Major injuries on major teams get national publicity. Injuries in small conferences do not. I crowdsource a variety of places to get this intel to make sure that I’m on top of as many of the player losses as possible.

Early in the season, I may adjust faster or slower to some teams. I put in a lot of hours putting together power ratings and preseason thoughts that I don’t want to just ignore because of a couple of data points. Other times, I’ll admit defeat on a team quickly to ensure that I’m not too far off of market, losing money on that team all the time.

Each week, I’ll post my updated 1 through 131 power ratings, the plus-minus (up/down) adjustments I made on teams (along with explanations on the biggest movers), my lines for all of the FBS vs. FBS games and then suggested bets based on my power ratings.

Here are my Week 1 Power Ratings:

Rank

Team

Conference

PR

HFA

1

Alabama

SEC

98.5

3.5

2

Ohio State

Big Ten

97.5

3.5

3

Georgia

SEC

95.5

3.5

4

Clemson

ACC

87.5

3.5

5

Michigan

Big Ten

86.5

3

6

Texas A&M

SEC

84.5

3.5

7

Utah

Pac-12

84.5

3.5

8

Notre Dame

Independent

84

3.5

9

Oklahoma

Big 12

83.5

3.5

10

Miami (FL)

ACC

83.5

2.5

11

Tennessee

SEC

82.5

2.5

12

NC State

ACC

82

3

13

Michigan State

Big Ten

81.5

2

14

Oklahoma State

Big 12

81

3

15

Oregon

Pac-12

81

3

16

Wisconsin

Big Ten

81

2

17

Ole Miss

SEC

81

2

18

Arkansas

SEC

81

2

19

Texas

Big 12

80.5

2

20

Penn State

Big Ten

80.5

2.5

21

BYU

Independent

80

2

22

Pitt

ACC

80

2

23

Baylor

Big 12

80

2

24

Mississippi State

SEC

80

2.5

25

USC

Pac-12

79.5

2

26

Kentucky

SEC

78.5

2

27

Cincinnati

AAC

78

3.5

28

Iowa

Big Ten

78

3

29

Florida

SEC

78

3

30

Auburn

SEC

78

3

31

LSU

SEC

78

2.5

32

UCLA

Pac-12

77

2

33

Kansas State

Big 12

76.5

2

34

Minnesota

Big Ten

76

2

35

Florida State

ACC

76

2

36

UCF

AAC

75.5

3.5

37

Louisville

ACC

75.5

2

38

Houston

AAC

74.5

2

39

Fresno State

Mountain West

74

2.5

40

Oregon State

Pac-12

74

2

41

Purdue

Big Ten

74

2

42

South Carolina

SEC

74

2

43

Nebraska

Big Ten

73.5

1.5

44

Air Force

Mountain West

73.5

2.5

45

Boise State

Mountain West

73.5

2.5

46

TCU

Big 12

73.5

2

47

Iowa State

Big 12

73

2.5

48

Maryland

Big Ten

73

2

49

North Carolina

ACC

72.5

2

50

Washington

Pac-12

72

2

51

Appalachian State

Sun Belt

71.5

3.5

52

Wake Forest

ACC

71

2.5

53

Boston College

ACC

71

2

54

SMU

AAC

70.5

3.5

55

Virginia

ACC

70

3

56

Illinois

Big Ten

69

1.5

57

Missouri

SEC

69

2.5

58

Texas Tech

Big 12

69

2

59

Arizona State

Pac-12

68.5

2.5

60

West Virginia

Big 12

68.5

2.5

61

Coastal Carolina

Sun Belt

68

2

62

UTSA

Conference USA

68

2

63

San Diego State

Mountain West

68

2

64

UAB

Conference USA

68

3.5

65

California

Pac-12

68

2

66

Stanford

Pac-12

68

2

67

Army

Independent

67.5

3

68

East Carolina

AAC

67.5

1.5

69

Virginia Tech

ACC

67.5

2

70

Memphis

AAC

67

3.5

71

Marshall

Sun Belt

67

2

72

Indiana

Big Ten

67

2

73

Syracuse

ACC

66.5

2

74

Northwestern

Big Ten

66.5

2

75

Toledo

MAC

66

2.5

76

Washington State

Pac-12

66

3

77

Utah State

Mountain West

66

2

78

Tulsa

AAC

65.5

2

79

Tulane

AAC

65.5

3

80

Louisiana

Sun Belt

65

3

81

Georgia State

Sun Belt

65

2

82

Western Kentucky

Conference USA

64.5

2

83

Arizona

Pac-12

64.5

2

84

Rutgers

Big Ten

64

1.5

85

Liberty

Independent

64

3.5

86

Central Michigan

MAC

63.5

2.5

87

Troy

Sun Belt

62

2

88

South Florida

AAC

62

2

89

Florida Atlantic

Conference USA

62

3

90

Georgia Tech

ACC

61

2

91

Northern Illinois

MAC

61

2

92

San Jose State

Mountain West

61

2

93

Miami (OH)

MAC

60.5

3

94

Western Michigan

MAC

60

2

95

Colorado State

Mountain West

60

1.5

96

Old Dominion

Sun Belt

60

2

97

Colorado

Pac-12

60

2

98

North Texas

Conference USA

59

2

99

Southern Miss

Sun Belt

59

2

100

Middle Tennessee

Conference USA

58.5

2.5

101

South Alabama

Sun Belt

58

2

102

Kansas

Big 12

58

1

103

James Madison

Sun Belt

58

2

104

UTEP

Conference USA

57.5

1

105

Navy

AAC

57.5

2

106

Wyoming

Mountain West

57

2.5

107

Vanderbilt

SEC

56.5

1

108

Eastern Michigan

MAC

56.5

2

109

Louisiana Tech

Conference USA

56.5

2

110

Kent State

MAC

55.5

2.5

111

Buffalo

MAC

55

3.5

112

Charlotte

Conference USA

55

2

113

Bowling Green

MAC

54.5

1

114

Ohio

MAC

54

2

115

UNLV

Mountain West

53.5

1

116

Duke

ACC

52.5

2

117

Ball State

MAC

52

2

118

Georgia Southern

Sun Belt

52

2.5

119

Nevada

Mountain West

51.5

3

120

Texas State

Sun Belt

51

1.5

121

New Mexico

Mountain West

50

1

122

Rice

Conference USA

50

1

123

Arkansas State

Sun Belt

49.5

2

124

Temple

AAC

49.5

2

125

Louisiana-Monroe

Sun Belt

49

2

126

Hawaii

Mountain West

47

2

127

Akron

MAC

46.5

1

128

UMass

Independent

44

1.5

129

New Mexico State

Independent

43.5

2

130

FIU

Conference USA

43

2

131

UConn

Independent

42.5

1

Here are my Week 1 power ratings adjustments with some notes:

Up: North Texas + 1, Vanderbilt + 1.5, UNLV + 1, Northwestern + 1.5, Florida State + 1.5, FAU + 2, Southern Miss + 3

Down: Nebraska -2.5, UTEP -1, Hawaii -2, Western Kentucky -1, Utah State -1, Nevada -2, UConn -2, Liberty -4, Penn State -1.5 (update: had done this in my win total spreadsheet, but did not carry over to PR sheet)

Liberty (-4): A market correction adjustment here. I appear to have been too high on Liberty based on my line for Week 1 and my win total projection. Similarly, I moved Southern Miss (+ 3) for the same reasons and because some people I really respect went heavy on over their season win total.

Nebraska (-2.5): Scott Frost is just a bad head coach. Sure, Pat Fitzgerald is a good one, but that’s a really bad loss for Nebraska as a two-touchdown favorite. I’m not sure the Huskers can improve that much with him at the helm.

UConn (-2): UConn lost Ta’Quan Roberson to a torn ACL. He was the most promising QB on the roster and won the job, so this has to be a downgrade. It may be worth more than that, but we’ll have to wait and see.

FAU (+ 2): My line was close here, but FAU looked extremely efficient on offense with new OC Brent Dearmon. I liked the hire and I liked what I saw in Week 0.

Here are my lines for the Week 1 games (sorted by Rotation Number):

Date

Away

Home

My Line

9/1

Ball State

Tennessee

-33

 

West Virginia

Pitt

-11.5

 

Penn State

Purdue

+ 4.5

 

Louisiana Tech

Missouri

-15

 

New Mexico State

Minnesota

-34.5

 

Central Michigan

Oklahoma State

-20.5

 

 

 

 

9/2

Illinois

Indiana

PK

 

Virginia Tech

Old Dominion

+ 5.5

 

Western Michigan

Michigan State

-23.5

 

Temple

Duke

-5

 

TCU

Colorado

+ 11.5

 

 

 

 

9/3

Troy

Ole Miss

-21

 

Utah

Florida

+ 3.5

 

BYU

USF

+ 16

 

Louisville

Syracuse

+ 7

 

Notre Dame

Ohio State

-17

 

Buffalo

Maryland

-20

 

Colorado State

Michigan

-29.5

 

North Carolina

App State

-2.5

 

Rutgers

Boston College

-9

 

Middle Tennessee

James Madison

-1.5

 

Army

Coastal Carolina

-2.5

 

Miami (OH)

Kentucky

-20

 

Georgia State

South Carolina

-11

 

SMU

North Texas

+ 9.5

 

FAU

Ohio

+ 6

 

NC State

East Carolina

+ 13

 

Tulsa

Wyoming

+ 6

 

Rice

USC

-31.5

 

Bowling Green

UCLA

-24.5

 

Boise State

Oregon State

-2.5

 

Kent State

Washington

-18.5

 

Arizona

San Diego State

-5.5

 

Texas State

Nevada

-3.5

 

Oregon

Georgia (Atlanta)

-14.5

 

Liberty

Southern Miss

+ 3

 

Utah State

Alabama

-36

 

UTEP

Oklahoma

-29.5

 

Memphis

Mississippi State

-15.5

 

UL Monroe

Texas

-33.5

 

Cincinnati

Arkansas

-5

 

Houston

UTSA

+ 4.5

 

UMass

Tulane

-24.5

 

Western Kentucky

Hawaii

+ 15.5

 

 

 

 

9/4

Florida State

LSU (New Orleans)

-2

 

 

 

 

9/5

Clemson

Georgia Tech

+ 24.5

Before I mention the games on my radar, I have to clarify a few things. Early in the season, I’m looking for a bigger difference between my number and the market number to fire. Everybody is trying to figure out these teams early in the year, so there is a lot of uncertainty. If I have a bigger discrepancy, I feel more confident in that pick.

Also, the numbers within that difference are important. I’m less worried about having a game -27 and the market having it -21 because those aren’t important numbers. But if I have -8 and a game is lined -4, I get numbers like 6 and 7 that are “key numbers” and of much greater importance.

Based on my power ratings, here are some bets on my radar:

Pitt -7.5 (-11.5): My line here is -11.5, which may, admittedly, be a little high on Pitt, who is employing more of a ground-and-pound attack. I’m a little lower on WVU than the market, which is why I’m in double digits here. The line for the Backyard Brawl is rising.

Illinois + 3 (PK): The Illini have already played a game. There is no preseason. I’m also intentionally high on Illinois because I like what Bret Bielema did last season and I like the addition of Tommy DeVito. Indiana was really bad last season and I don’t see many roster upgrades. I liked this better at + 3.5 or + 4 before Illinois crushed Wyoming, but I still think they have a great chance to win outright here and + 3 is worth a bet.

BYU -12 (-16): I’d maybe look first half here since it’ll be hot and humid in Tampa with a BYU team coming in from Provo, Utah. But, I do think this line should be higher. I like Gerry Bohanon and USF and think the Bulls should be improved, but the Cougars are a really strong team that plays a very physical brand of football that USF doesn’t see in the AAC. You can even find 11 here in town or 11.5 in faraway places.

App State + 1 (-2.5): My power ratings say that the wrong team is favored here. North Carolina might be better, but the offense will take some time without Sam Howell and the defense feels suspect year in and year out. App State has an excellent running game and this will be a huge game in Boone. From a power ratings standpoint and a handicapping standpoint, I like the Mountaineers.

Middle Tennessee + 6 (+ 1.5): I’m not sure what to do with James Madison. This has been an FCS powerhouse, but the leap to FBS is significant with more scholarships and better overall talent. I’m also concerned about how much James Madison lost, specifically QB Cole Johnson. Middle Tennessee had a ton of injuries at the QB position and I’m high-ish on them entering the season.

UMass + 29 (+ 24.5): I’ve noticed that I’ve been low on Tulane in the lead-up to the season. My season win total projection is well below market, but I didn’t see much to like on the roster. That being said, I’d rather not start my season with a bet on UMass at virtually any number. I just wanted to mention it because it’s the biggest discrepancy I had, but sometimes you don’t want to just blindly trust your power ratings. There may be a proverbial glitch in the matrix ... like one that tells you to bet on UMass.

I’m open to questions and happy to do what I can to help. Hit me up on Twitter, @SkatingTripods, or aburke [at] vsin dot com via email.

back to news

Subscriber Only News  Vsin Exclusive

View All

 

Screen_Shot_2022-08-22_at_12.19.15_AM

College Lines Revealed: Don't be afraid to keep betting on undervalued teams until the market adjusts. Ex: Kansas, UNLV

View tips for Pro subscribers

Screen_Shot_2022-08-22_at_12.19.15_AM

Michael Lombardi: Cowboys +1 at Giants

Amal Shah: Iowa +10 vs. Michigan
 

View new sortable Picks at a Glance page for Pro subscribers

Screen_Shot_2022-08-22_at_12.19.15_AM

Screen_Shot_2022-09-25_at_11.55.56_PM

Betting Splits: Percentage of handle & tickets from DraftKings, updated every 10 minutes. GO HERE.

NFL Power Ratings: 3 sets of numbers from Steve Makinen. GO HERE.

CFB Power Ratings: 3 sets of numbers from Steve Makinen. GO HERE.

View more CFB tools for Pro subscribers

View more NFL tools for Pro subscribers

 

Close