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Thursday, June 13, 2013

What Vegas thinks of your college football team

Before the 2012 NFL season I used Vegas win totals to reverse engineer power rankings. Now, Kegs 'n Eggs is listing Golden Nugget's very early spreads for 248 games in 2013. I bet you can guess where this is going.

It's a pretty simple process to slip these values in a model and reverse engineer power ratings. And it turns out the Golden Nugget spreads are pretty consistent with the power ratings I've estimated. The chart below compares the reported point spreads with the points spreads generated by my model using the reverse engineered power ratings. The average difference between the Nugget's spreads and the model's is just under a point.

Shockingly, according to the reversed engineered power rankings, the best team in college football in 2013 is . . . .  Alabama. Gasp. What is actually surprising is that Oregon is just a field goal below Alabama and Texas A&M just a touchdown from the Tide (though the 6.5 points they're getting in Kyle Field suggests a bigger gap). The Aggies are followed by Ohio State, Georgia, a run of Big 12 teams with LSU thrown in the middle to finish out the top 10.  

Ole Miss at 14 is notable. There are four SEC West teams in the top 14, and then there's a huge jump before we get to Mississippi State, Auburn and Arkansas. 

By my estimates, Notre Dame would be around 11th/12th if Golson were still on campus. 

Oregon is almost ten points better than Stanford. That seems fair.

Staying in the Pac, the Golden Nugget doesn't seem to think much of Sonny Dykes. Only 13 teams have lower power ratings than Cal.

Texas at 6 sets alarms off in my head. Then again, there's no reason they can't be there (outside of the terrible, terrible coaching staff). 

Michigan and TCU are two teams that I would put higher, and both for the same reason: very good quarterback play.

Then there's Louisville. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Louisville is getting hyped because they beat a flawed Florida team by 10 points a month after any other games. In the three games before that they lost to Syracuse by 19, UConn by 3 and beat Rutgers by 3. Teddy Bridgewater is good, and may have a great NFL future ahead of him, but he was the 16th most efficient passer last year - behind, among others, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, Connor Shaw, Tajh Boyd, and Collin Klein, guys that were asked do to a lot more than sit in the pocket and sling while playing against much better competition. The only thing Bridgewater did better than Michigan's Devin Gardner and Oklahoma State's JW Walsh is take more snaps. The Golden Nugget spreads place Louisville 24th among the 83 teams with data. I think anything above 30th is optimistic.

There are some notable exclusions: Utah State finished last year's power rankings at 14 and San Jose State is one more team with a better college quarterback than Louisville.

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