Week 3 college football power ratings and game spreads

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

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Overreaction week has arrived in college football. Week 3 lines show a significant amount of recency bias based on what has happened to this point, especially the results that we just saw this past weekend. I have some big discrepancies between my lines and the market lines this week on teams like Washington State, Iowa, South Alabama and Florida.

Truthfully, this is the toughest part of the season to do power ratings. An internal debate rages on because you want to react to what you’ve seen, but you also spent a lot of time in the preseason studying these teams and two games simply may not tell that much of a story. On the other hand, the sportsbooks are obviously forced to adjust and they’re going to have to consider market sentiment, while also trying to not get burned by being too low or too high on a team.

Furthermore, we’re also still in the nonconference portion of the season for a lot of teams. Teams are jumping up a few weight classes from one week to the next or become a heavyweight taking on a featherweight. The wide range of opponents and outcomes makes this that much more challenging.

Finding that delicate balance is very tough to do, so you have to put together your numbers and then decide if you want to fire early in the week or wait to gather more information. For me, there are a few games that I like, but there are also other games where I really want to see where the line ends up. Before I get to those, a quick refresher…

My power ratings updates follow a three-step process. I compare my line to the closing line, study the box score and then crowdsource for injury information. I got a question from a reader last week about how to minimize overreaction and the best way to do that is by comparing your line to the closing line and then looking at how a game played out. Some teams may be as good or as bad as they’ve looked. Other teams won’t be. It’s up to each individual to decide which bucket a team falls into.

Here are my Week 3 Power Ratings:

 

Rank Team Conference PR HFA
1 Alabama SEC 99.5 3.5
2 Georgia SEC 97.5 3.5
3 Ohio State Big Ten 93.5 3.5
4 Michigan Big Ten 89 3
5 Clemson ACC 87.5 3.5
6 Tennessee SEC 85.5 2.5
7 Oklahoma Big 12 83.5 3.5
8 Miami (FL) ACC 83.5 2.5
9 USC Pac-12 83.5 2
10 Oklahoma State Big 12 83 3
11 Utah Pac-12 83 3.5
12 Arkansas SEC 83 2
13 Texas A&M SEC 82.5 3.5
14 Michigan State Big Ten 81.5 2
15 Ole Miss SEC 81 2
16 Mississippi State SEC 81 2.5
17 Texas Big 12 80.5 2
18 BYU Independent 80 2
19 NC State ACC 80 3
20 Cincinnati AAC 80 3.5
21 Wisconsin Big Ten 79 2
22 Kentucky SEC 79 2
23 Penn State Big Ten 78.5 2.5
24 Oregon Pac-12 78.5 3
25 Kansas State Big 12 78.5 2
26 Notre Dame Independent 78 3.5
27 Baylor Big 12 77 2
28 UCLA Pac-12 77 2
29 Iowa State Big 12 77 2.5
30 Maryland Big Ten 76.5 2
31 Florida SEC 76 3
32 Minnesota Big Ten 76 2
33 Florida State ACC 76 2
34 Oregon State Pac-12 76 2
35 Washington Pac-12 76 2
36 Auburn SEC 75 3
37 TCU Big 12 75 2
38 LSU SEC 75 2.5
39 UCF AAC 74.5 3.5
40 Louisville ACC 74.5 2
41 North Carolina ACC 74.5 2
42 Fresno State Mountain West 74 2.5
43 Purdue Big Ten 74 2
44 Wake Forest ACC 74 2.5
45 Air Force Mountain West 73.5 2.5
46 Pitt ACC 73 2
47 South Carolina SEC 73 2
48 SMU AAC 72.5 3.5
49 Iowa Big Ten 72 3
50 Texas Tech Big 12 72 2
51 Houston AAC 71.5 2
52 Boise State Mountain West 71.5 2.5
53 Appalachian State Sun Belt 71.5 3.5
54 Syracuse ACC 71.5 2
55 Illinois Big Ten 70.5 1.5
56 East Carolina AAC 70.5 1.5
57 Virginia Tech ACC 70.5 2
58 Nebraska Big Ten 69.5 1.5
59 West Virginia Big 12 69.5 2.5
60 Missouri SEC 69 2.5
61 UTSA Conference USA 69 2
62 Arizona State Pac-12 68.5 2.5
63 Marshall Sun Belt 68.5 2
64 Coastal Carolina Sun Belt 68 2
65 UAB Conference USA 68 3.5
66 Stanford Pac-12 68 2
67 Boston College ACC 67.5 2
68 Tulane AAC 67.5 3
69 Arizona Pac-12 66.5 2
70 Virginia ACC 66 3
71 California Pac-12 66 2
72 Toledo MAC 66 2.5
73 Army Independent 65.5 3
74 Memphis AAC 65.5 3.5
75 Washington State Pac-12 65.5 3
76 James Madison Sun Belt 65.5 2
77 Indiana Big Ten 65 2
78 San Diego State Mountain West 65 2
79 Rutgers Big Ten 65 1.5
80 Northwestern Big Ten 64.5 2
81 Western Kentucky Conference USA 64.5 2
82 Louisiana Sun Belt 64 3
83 Georgia State Sun Belt 63.5 2
84 Tulsa AAC 62.5 2
85 Troy Sun Belt 62 2
86 South Florida AAC 62 2
87 Miami (OH) MAC 62 3
88 Florida Atlantic Conference USA 62 3
89 Georgia Tech ACC 61 2
90 Liberty Independent 61 3.5
91 Kansas Big 12 61 1
92 Central Michigan MAC 60.5 2.5
93 Utah State Mountain West 60 2
94 Western Michigan MAC 60 2
95 South Alabama Sun Belt 60 2
96 Northern Illinois MAC 59.5 2
97 Duke ACC 59.5 2
98 North Texas Conference USA 59 2
99 Southern Miss Sun Belt 59 2
100 San Jose State Mountain West 59 2
101 Vanderbilt SEC 58.5 1
102 Colorado State Mountain West 57 1.5
103 Old Dominion Sun Belt 57 2
104 Wyoming Mountain West 57 2.5
105 Middle Tennessee Conference USA 56.5 2.5
106 Ohio MAC 56 2
107 Georgia Southern Sun Belt 56 2.5
108 Louisiana Tech Conference USA 55.5 2
109 Kent State MAC 55.5 2.5
110 Navy AAC 55.5 2
111 Colorado Pac-12 55 2
112 UNLV Mountain West 55 1
113 Eastern Michigan MAC 54.5 2
114 Bowling Green MAC 54.5 1
115 UTEP Conference USA 54 1
116 Texas State Sun Belt 53 1.5
117 Buffalo MAC 51.5 3.5
118 New Mexico Mountain West 51.5 1
119 Ball State MAC 51 2
120 Rice Conference USA 50 1
121 Arkansas State Sun Belt 49.5 2
122 Louisiana-Monroe Sun Belt 49 2
123 Nevada Mountain West 48.5 3
124 Temple AAC 47.5 2
125 Charlotte Conference USA 46.5 2
126 UConn Independent 44.5 1
127 Akron MAC 43.5 1
128 New Mexico State Independent 43.5 2
129 Hawaii Mountain West 42.5 2
130 FIU Conference USA 40 2
131 UMass Independent 39.5 1.5

 

Week 3 Power Ratings Adjustments

 

Up: Louisville + 1, New Mexico + 1.5, North Carolina + 2, UTSA + 1, Duke + 3, Kansas State + 2, Arkansas + 2, Wake Forest + 3, South Alabama + 2, Marshall + 1.5, Maryland + 2, Tennessee + 2, Washington State + 1.5, Illinois + 1.5, UNLV + 1.5, Texas Tech + 3, Iowa State + 2, East Carolina + 1.5, Kentucky + 2, Syracuse + 4, Texas State + 2, Georgia Southern + 4, USC + 2, Michigan + 2.5, Virginia Tech + 3, Oregon State + 2, Cincinnati + 2, Washington + 2, James Madison + 4, Kansas + 3

Down: UCF -2, Ohio State -2.5, Georgia State -1.5, Army -2, Northwestern -2, Missouri -4, Central Michigan -3, Notre Dame -6, Charlotte -3.5, Pitt -5, Texas A&M -2, Wisconsin -2, Virginia -4, Cal -2, Houston -1, Iowa -4, Old Dominion -2, Florida -2, UMass -1.5, Eastern Michigan -2, Tulsa -3, FIU -3, Auburn -3, Nebraska -3, Hawaii -2.5, Boston College -2, Baylor -3, Nevada -3, Buffalo -2.5, Utah State -3, Indiana -2, UTEP -2, Colorado -4, Colorado State -3, Akron -3

A few notes on the biggest adjustments:

Notre Dame -6: The Fighting Irish are not viewed favorably by the betting market. I had them down for -4, but then saw their line for the game against Cal and moved them a couple more points. There are clear issues with this team at QB and OL. I still think they’re better than what we’ve seen so far, but they have to prove it at this point.

Pitt -5: This is a two-fold move. The first is that Kedon Slovis is out with a broken collarbone and Nick Patti has a sprained ankle, so we’ve got cluster injuries at QB. The second is that my line was off last week with Pitt 3.5 against Tennessee when it closed around a touchdown. The game did go to OT, so I think my 3.5 was a pretty fair number, but the injuries hurt and I had to adjust. Also, I bumped Tennessee up and I’m still low on their line this week. They’re being lined like a top-five team. I’m not really sure that’s the case, but I did want to mention them here.

Syracuse + 4: The Orange have two very impressive data points thus far, as they blew out a Louisville team that beat a pretty good UCF team on Friday night and also rolled a UConn team that had been pretty competitive through two games. 

Georgia Southern + 4: Nebraska is a dumpster fire, but this was a thoroughly impressive effort from Georgia Southern, who has converted well to the modified Air Raid offense. They’ve scored a ton of points in two games and I was clearly wrong about this team. I think I still need to adjust more, but maybe it was just a perfect storm facing an awful Morgan State team and then a dysfunctional Nebraska bunch.

James Madison + 4: JMU rolled over Norfolk State, but Todd Centeio seems to fit into this offense really well. The Dukes look like a much better team than I gave them credit for and I hope I have them accurately rated now after two big leaps the last two weeks.

Virginia -4: So, I think Virginia might be bad in a transitional year. Brennan Armstrong looked terrible against Illinois. I was several points low on that number. With a pretty big adjustment to Virginia, I think I’m closer to where they’re at as a team, but I’ll be keeping an eye on them for another move down if need be.

Missouri -4: I erroneously bumped Missouri last week, as I fell victim to a little bit of an overreaction of my own. Kansas State is good, but that was an abominable performance from the Tigers this past weekend. I bumped them back down around where they were.

Iowa -4: Another atrocious performance from the Hawkeyes offense. The defense was strong against Iowa State, but the offense is simply not good. My Iowa line this week is still too high, but keep in mind that there is a very low total on that game, which is going to lead to an adjusted spread.

Speaking of which, here are my Week 3 spreads:

Date Away Team Home Team Line
9/16 Florida State Louisville -0.5
  Air Force Wyoming 14
       
9/17 Cincinnati (1 pt HFA) Miami OH 19
  UConn Michigan -47.5
  Purdue Syracuse 0.5
  Rutgers Temple 15.5
  Texas State Baylor -26
  Western Kentucky Indiana -2.5
  Georgia South Carolina 22.5
  Oklahoma Nebraska 12.5
  Buffalo Coastal Carolina -18.5
  Ohio Iowa State -23.5
  UTEP New Mexico 1.5
  Old Dominion Virginia -12
  South Alabama UCLA -19
  Cal Notre Dame -15.5
  North Texas UNLV 3
  Tulane Kansas State -13
  New Mexico State Wisconsin -37.5
  Penn State Auburn 0.5
  Vanderbilt Northern Illinois -3
  Colorado Minnesota -23
  Ole Miss Georgia Tech 18
  BYU Oregon -1.5
  Georgia Southern UAB -15.5
  Troy App State -13
  Kansas Houston -12.5
  UL Monroe Alabama -54
  Colorado State Washington State -11.5
  Liberty Wake Forest -15.5
  Marshall Bowling Green 13
  Mississippi State LSU 3.5
  Toledo Ohio State -31
  Akron Tennessee -44.5
  Charlotte Georgia State -19
  Texas Tech NC State -11
  Arkansas State Memphis -19.5
  UCF FAU 9.5
  South Florida Florida -17
  SMU Maryland -6
  Michigan State Washington 3.5
  Pitt Western Michigan 11
  Nevada Iowa -26.5
  Louisiana Rice 13
  UTSA Texas -13.5
  Louisiana Tech Clemson -35.5
  Miami (FL) Texas A&M -2.5
  San Diego State Utah -21.5
  Fresno State USC -11.5
  Eastern Michigan Arizona State -16.5

Games on my radar from a power ratings standpoint:

Miami (FL) + 6 (+ 2.5) vs. Texas A&M: Probably the game of the weekend, I like Miami here. It wasn’t just that App State beat Texas A&M, it was that the Mountaineers simply pushed the Aggies around. I was intentionally high on the Hurricanes coming into the season. I really like Tyler Van Dyke and I think Josh Gattis is a terrific offensive coordinator. I’m actually surprised this line didn’t come out lower, especially with TAMU’s showing last week.

UCLA -13.5 (-19) vs. South Alabama: I know there’s a lot of buzz for South Alabama right now. I understand it. I liked this team to win the Sun Belt West Division entering the season. They’ve looked really good in two games, but this is a pretty noteworthy step up in class. I’d expect this line to move north of two touchdowns.

North Texas + 2.5 (-3) vs. UNLV: UNLV blew away Idaho State in Week 0 and had a competitive loss to Cal last week. I still don’t love the idea of laying points with the Rebels here. This isn’t a huge overlay, especially because 0 is a dead number, but I could see myself being on UNT moneyline here. I’ll have to dig a little deeper into this one.

Colorado State + 16.5 (+ 11.5) vs. Washington State: Washington State struggled badly with Idaho in Week 1 before going on the road to beat Wisconsin at Camp Randall. Week 2 was a weird one. Colorado State was the subject of an enormous line move against Middle Tennessee to get as high as -14 and then lost outright by 15. I don’t really have a good pulse on either of these teams, which happens, even doing power ratings. I don’t think I can touch this game, but it’s off-market quite a bit, so I wanted to mention it.

Memphis -13.5 (-19.5) vs. Arkansas State: Kudos to the Red Wolves for covering against Ohio State, but maybe the Buckeyes aren’t quite as good as many of us thought (me included). Memphis was in a terrible revenge spot against a really good Mississippi State team in Week 1 and got roasted. In Week 2, Memphis hammered a bad Navy team, but I don’t think they got any respect for that. Maybe they should have, given that they threw for over 400 yards on just 24 completions. I think Seth Henigan is a really good QB. I really believe this one has the chance to get ugly. I like this play and also think it will be over 14 by later today or early Tuesday.

Michigan State + 2 (-3.5) vs. Washington: Kalen DeBoer’s Washington tenure is off to a really nice start with 97 points in two games, but Kent State is awful defensively and Portland State nearly beat San Jose State in Week 1, so it was a rough spot for the Vikings. I think Michigan State represents a massive leap in competition and a real litmus test for the Huskies. I’m out past the key number of 3 here, so this is maybe the most notable discrepancy between my number and the market number.

Feel free to email me with any questions aburke (at) vsin dot com about this article, anything else I write or to talk about any processes that you want to know more about or constructively criticize.

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