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The Golden Nugget has released point spreads for a large number of college football games.  And these spreads can tell us a lot about how Vegas views these teams.  That’s because, for the most part, the spreads are consistent.

Let’s look at Ohio State, the defending national champions and a team the Golden Nugget released lines for four games. The Buckeyes are 14-point home favorites against Michigan State, 16-point road favorites against Michigan, 19-point home favorites against Penn State, and 16-point road favorites against Virginia Tech. So how good is Ohio State? Well, that depends on how good Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, and Virginia Tech are. As it turns out, those teams aren’t half bad, so Ohio State must be really, really good. Let’s ignore the games where two of Michigan State, Michigan, and Penn State play each other (since that won’t tell us much about Ohio State), and look at the rest:

  • Michigan State is a 6-point road favorite in Nebraska and a 1-point home favorite against Oregon. This would imply that Ohio State is about 9 points better than the Ducks1, an annual college football contender.
  • The only non-Big 10 game for Penn State where a line was released was Penn State -28 against Army.
  • Michigan is a 33-point home favorite against UNVL, a 4-point road dog against Utah, a 14-point home favorite against Oregon State, and a 7-point home favorite against BYU. The Wolverines aren’t great, but remember that Ohio State is favored by 16 against them in Ann Arbor.
  • Virginia Tech is a 9-point home favorite against Pittsburgh, a 4-point road favorite against virginia, a 9.5-point road dog against Georgia Tech, and a 6-point road dog against Miami. And, remember, a 16-point home dog against Ohio State.

But we don’t need to strain our brains trying to piece together these ratings. As I showed last year and in 2013, we can take the point spreads from each game to determine what Vegas’ implied ratings are for 70 college football teams.

The system is pretty simple: I took the point spread for each game and turned it into a margin of victory, after assigning 3 points to the road team in each game. Do this for every game, iterate the results hundreds of times ala the Simple Rating System, we can come up with a set of power ratings.

Two quick notes about the rankings.

1) These are not intended to be surprise. The methodology may be somewhat complicated, but all these ratings are intended to do is quantify public perception.

2) These are not “my” ratings. These are simply the implied ratings based on the Vegas (or, more specifically, the Golden Nugget) points spreads; nothing more, nothing less.

Below are the ratings for 70 college football teams.2 In the table below, I’ve included the number of games for which we have point spreads for each team on the far left. The “MOV” column shows the home field-adjusted average point spread for that team, the “SOS” column shows the average rating of each team’s opponents (for only the number of games for which we have lines), and the “SRS” column shows the school’s implied SRS rating. As you can see, Ohio State is projected to be the strongest team in college football.

RkTmGMOVSOSSRS
1Ohio State416.3016.3
2TCU815.9-1.414.5
3Baylor610.72.313
4Alabama97.34.712
5Oregon711.5-3.58
6Arkansas82.85.17.9
7Georgia64.92.87.7
8LSU95.81.37.1
9Michigan State52.53.86.3
10Auburn82.935.8
11Florida State56.3-1.25.1
12Ole Miss70.44.75.1
13Oklahoma71.13.84.8
14Tennessee71.13.34.5
15USC85.9-1.64.3
16Stanford621.93.9
17UCLA88.6-53.5
18Missouri72.41.13.5
19Georgia Tech84.2-1.13
20Clemson63.2-0.42.8
21Texas A&M8-1.64.42.8
22Notre Dame83.6-21.6
23Wisconsin2-34.51.5
24Boise State615-13.61.4
25Mississippi State7-5.96.30.4
26Arizona State5-2.62.70.1
27NC State1303
28Northern Illinois1000
29Toledo1000
30North Carolina1-330
31Arizona6-2.72.6-0.1
32Penn State40.4-1-0.6
33Utah80.6-1.2-0.6
34Kansas State7-0.90-0.9
35Oklahoma State6-5.64.6-1
36West Virginia5-7.66.1-1.5
37Michigan72.3-4.2-1.9
38Texas6-7.65.3-2.2
39Nebraska5-0.6-2.4-3
40Florida7-7.34.2-3.1
41South Carolina6-6.83.5-3.3
42Virginia Tech5-3.1-0.6-3.7
43Louisville4-5.31.5-3.8
44Miami (FL)7-3.4-1.6-5.1
45Cincinnati31.2-6.7-5.6
46California1-103.9-6.1
47Minnesota1-2114.5-6.5
48Memphis1-1-5.6-6.6
49BYU7-2.6-4.1-6.7
50Pittsburgh4-5-2.3-7.3
51Kentucky2-8.81-7.7
52Iowa21.8-9.7-8
53Central Florida1-3-5.6-8.6
54Vanderbilt1-144.5-9.5
55Washington4-10.60.6-10.1
56Virginia7-9.2-0.9-10.1
57Utah State2-7.8-2.6-10.4
58Navy21-11.5-10.5
59Colorado4-10.8-0.3-11.1
60Washington State1-1.5-10.1-11.6
61San Diego State119-31.1-12.1
62Oregon State3-14.51.8-12.7
63Colorado State2-8.3-4.8-13.1
64Syracuse1-237.1-15.9
65Iowa State2-19.83.3-16.5
66Nevada111-31.1-20.1
67Fresno State2-3-18.9-21.9
68Army2-19-5.5-24.5
69Kansas1-27-0.9-27.9
70UNLV6-22.6-8.5-31.1

Below are the results of the individual games. Here’s how to read the table. When Ohio State plays Michigan State, OSU is a 14-point favorite. The game is a home game for OSU, which means Ohio State’s location-adjusted expected Margin of Victory against MSU is 11. Since Michigan State has a rating of 6.3 (see the table above), that is shown in the SOS column. If we add the MOV and SOS columns, we get Ohio State’s single-game SRS score, which is 17.3. For the most part, these ratings are consistent: Ohio State’s SRS rating for each game is between 15.3 and 17.3 points.

TmOppLineH/RMOVSOSSRS
Ohio StateMichigan State-14Home116.317.3
Ohio StateMichigan-16Road19-1.917.1
TCUBaylor-6Home31316
TCUTexas-21Home18-2.215.8
TCUIowa State-29Road32-16.515.5
TCUWest Virginia-20Home17-1.515.5
Ohio StatePenn State-19Home16-0.615.4
Ohio StateVirginia Tech-16Road19-3.715.3
BaylorOklahoma-13Home104.814.8
TCUMinnesota-18Road21-6.514.5
BaylorKansas State-12Road15-0.914.1
TCUKansas State-11Road14-0.913.1
AlabamaLSU-9Home67.113.1
TCUOklahoma State-11Road14-113
TCUOklahoma-5Road84.812.8
AlabamaTexas A&M-7Road102.812.8
BaylorTexas-18Home15-2.212.8
BaylorWest Virginia-17Home14-1.512.5
AlabamaArkansas-7.5Home4.57.912.4
AlabamaMississippi State-9Road120.412.4
AlabamaAuburn-3.5Road6.55.812.3
BaylorOklahoma State-10Road13-112
AlabamaOle Miss-9.5Home6.55.111.6
BaylorTCU+6Road-314.511.5
AlabamaWisconsin-10Neut101.511.5
AlabamaTennessee-10Home74.511.5
AlabamaGeorgia0Road37.710.7
OregonUtah-14Home11-0.610.4
ArkansasAuburn-6.5Home3.55.89.3
ArkansasTexas A&M-6.5Neut6.52.89.3
GeorgiaAlabama0Home-3129
GeorgiaMissouri-8.5Home5.53.59
GeorgiaFlorida-12Neut12-3.18.9
ArkansasLSU+1.5Road1.57.18.6
Michigan StatePenn State-12Home9-0.68.4
OregonMichigan State+1Road26.38.3
OregonArizona State-5Road80.18.1
LSUOle Miss0Road35.18.1
LSUFlorida-14Home11-3.17.9
OregonWashington-15Road18-10.17.9
OregonColorado-16Road19-11.17.9
AuburnLouisville-11.5Neut11.5-3.87.7
LSUSouth Carolina-8Road11-3.37.7
ArkansasAlabama+7.5Road-4.5127.5
ArkansasMissouri-7Home43.57.5
GeorgiaTennessee0Road34.57.5
ArkansasMississippi State-10Home70.47.4
AuburnTexas A&M-1.5Road4.52.87.3
LSUTexas A&M-7.5Home4.52.87.3
LSUSyracuse-20Road23-15.97.1
ArkansasOle Miss+1Road25.17.1
GeorgiaGeorgia Tech-1Road437
OregonStanford0Road33.96.9
OregonOregon State-22.5Home19.5-12.76.8
LSUAuburn-4Home15.86.8
OklahomaTCU+5Home-814.56.5
ArkansasTennessee+1Road24.56.5
Florida StateMiami (FL)-14.5Home11.5-5.16.4
LSUArkansas-1.5Home-1.57.96.4
LSUMississippi State-3Road60.46.4
AuburnLSU+4Road-17.16.1
AuburnOle Miss-4Home15.16.1
Florida StateGeorgia Tech0Road336
Michigan StateOregon-1Home-286
LSUAlabama+9Road-6126
Michigan StateNebraska-6Road9-36
Ole MissFlorida-6Road9-3.15.9
USCWashington-19Home16-10.15.9
TennesseeArkansas-1Home-27.95.9
Ole MissArkansas-1Home-27.95.9
Michigan StateMichigan-4.5Road7.5-1.95.6
Ole MissAlabama+9.5Road-6.5125.5
AuburnAlabama+3.5Home-6.5125.5
OklahomaWest Virginia-10Home7-1.55.5
Ole MissMississippi State-2Road50.45.4
AuburnMississippi State-8Home50.45.4
Michigan StateOhio State+14Road-1116.35.3
Florida StateLouisville-12Home9-3.85.2
OklahomaKansas State-3Road6-0.95.1
StanfordOregon0Home-385
StanfordUCLA-4.5Home1.53.55
OklahomaOklahoma State-3Road6-15
TennesseeAlabama+10Road-7125
USCStanford-4Home13.94.9
Ole MissAuburn+4Road-15.84.8
TennesseeOklahoma-3Home04.84.8
MissouriSouth Carolina-11Home8-3.34.7
GeorgiaSouth Carolina-11Home8-3.34.7
TennesseeGeorgia0Home-37.74.7
USCNotre Dame0Road31.64.6
TennesseeVanderbilt-17Home14-9.54.5
OklahomaTennessee+3Road04.54.5
StanfordArizona-7.5Home4.5-0.14.4
USCArizona-7.5Home4.5-0.14.4
AuburnArkansas+6.5Road-3.57.94.4
UCLABYU-14Home11-6.74.3
UCLAUSC+3Road04.34.3
AuburnKentucky-9Road12-7.74.3
OklahomaTexas-6.5Neut6.5-2.24.3
ClemsonFlorida State-2Home-15.14.1
Ole MissLSU0Home-37.14.1
Texas A&MOle Miss+4Road-15.14.1
TennesseeMissouri+2.5Road0.53.54
MissouriTennessee-2.5Home-0.54.54
MissouriFlorida-10Home7-3.13.9
Florida StateFlorida-4Road7-3.13.9
UCLAUNLV-32Road35-31.13.9
USCArizona-1Road4-0.13.9
Georgia TechMiami (FL)-6Road9-5.13.9
USCColorado-12Road15-11.13.9
Notre DameStanford+3Road03.93.9
StanfordCalifornia-13Home10-6.13.9
MissouriArkansas+7Road-47.93.9
Texas A&MMississippi State-6.5Home3.50.43.9
UCLAVirginia-17Home14-10.13.9
Florida StateClemson+2Road12.83.8
Ole MissTexas A&M-4Home12.83.8
Texas A&MSouth Carolina-10Home7-3.33.7
Georgia TechGeorgia+1Home-47.73.7
Georgia TechPittsburgh-14Home11-7.33.7
USCUCLA-3Home03.53.5
MissouriMississippi State-6Home30.43.4
UCLAUtah-1Road4-0.63.4
USCUtah-7Home4-0.63.4
StanfordUSC+4Road-14.33.3
Texas A&MArizona State-3Neut30.13.1
UCLAArizona State-6Home30.13.1
ClemsonGeorgia Tech-3Home033
NC StateNorth Carolina-6Home303
OklahomaBaylor+13Road-10133
UCLAArizona0Road3-0.12.9
Georgia TechVirginia-10Road13-10.12.9
Georgia TechClemson+3Road02.82.8
Georgia TechVirginia Tech-9.5Home6.5-3.72.8
ClemsonSouth Carolina-3Road6-3.32.7
Georgia TechNotre Dame+2Road11.62.6
Texas A&MLSU+7.5Road-4.57.12.6
TennesseeFlorida-2.5Road5.5-3.12.4
ClemsonMiami (FL)-4.5Road7.5-5.12.4
UCLAStanford+4.5Road-1.53.92.4
Boise StateBYU-6Road9-6.72.3
MissouriBYU-12Home9-6.72.3
Notre DameClemson+3.5Road-0.52.82.3
Notre DameTexas-7.5Home4.5-2.22.3
ClemsonLouisville-3Road6-3.82.2
MissouriGeorgia+8.5Road-5.57.72.2
Boise StateUtah State-9.5Road12.5-10.42.1
ClemsonNotre Dame-3.5Home0.51.62.1
Georgia TechFlorida State0Home-35.12.1
Notre DameGeorgia Tech-2Home-132
WisconsinAlabama+10Neut-10122
Texas A&MAlabama+7Home-10122
Boise StateColorado State-12Road15-13.11.9
Boise StateVirginia-9Road12-10.11.9
Notre DameVirginia-9Road12-10.11.9
StanfordNotre Dame-3Home01.61.6
Texas A&MArkansas+6.5Neut-6.57.91.4
Texas A&MAuburn+1.5Home-4.55.81.3
Notre DameUSC0Home-34.31.3
Mississippi StateLSU+3Home-67.11.1
West VirginiaOklahoma State-5Home2-11
WisconsinNebraska-1Road4-31
Mississippi StateArkansas+10Road-77.90.9
Mississippi StateAuburn+8Road-55.80.8
Notre DameNavy-14Home11-10.50.5
ArizonaUCLA0Home-33.50.5
Arizona StateUCLA+6Road-33.50.5
Oklahoma StateTCU+11Home-1414.50.5
Kansas StateTCU+11Home-1414.50.5
Mississippi StateMissouri+6Road-33.50.5
Kansas StateWest Virginia-5Home2-1.50.5
Penn StateArmy-28Home25-24.50.5
Boise StateUNLV-28.5Road31.5-31.10.4
Arizona StateUtah+2Road1-0.60.4
UtahOregon State-16Home13-12.70.3
UtahUSC+7Road-44.30.3
ArizonaUSC+1Home-44.30.3
Penn StateOhio State+19Road-1616.30.3
ArizonaArizona State+3Road00.10.1
Oklahoma StateKansas State-4Home1-0.90.1
Mississippi StateOle Miss+2Home-55.10.1
Arizona StateOregon+5Home-880
Mississippi StateAlabama+9Home-12120
Northern IllinoisToledo+3Road000
ToledoNorthern Illinois-3Home000
North CarolinaNC State+6Road-330
Oklahoma StateBaylor+10Home-13130
Boise StateWashington-13Home10-10.1-0.1
UtahArizona+3Road0-0.1-0.1
Arizona StateArizona-3Home0-0.1-0.1
ArizonaUSC+7.5Road-4.54.3-0.2
Arizona StateTexas A&M+3Neut-32.8-0.2
South CarolinaGeorgia+11Road-87.7-0.3
Penn StateMichigan-4.5Home1.5-1.9-0.4
UtahUCLA+1Home-43.5-0.5
UtahColorado-13.5Home10.5-11.1-0.6
ArizonaStanford+7.5Road-4.53.9-0.6
ArizonaUtah-3Home0-0.6-0.6
Miami (FL)Virginia Tech-6Home3-3.7-0.7
Mississippi StateTexas A&M+6.5Road-3.52.8-0.7
UtahMichigan-4Home1-1.9-0.9
UtahArizona State-2Home-10.1-0.9
Kansas StateKansas-24Road27-27.9-0.9
FloridaTennessee+2.5Home-5.54.5-1
West VirginiaBaylor+17Road-1413-1
MichiganUNLV-33Home30-31.1-1.1
Oklahoma StateOklahoma+3Home-64.8-1.2
Kansas StateOklahoma+3Home-64.8-1.2
MichiganMichigan State+4.5Home-7.56.3-1.2
Kansas StateTexas+2Road1-2.2-1.2
Virginia TechPittsburgh-9Home6-7.3-1.3
Notre DamePittsburgh-3Road6-7.3-1.3
TexasOklahoma State-2.5Home-0.5-1-1.5
MichiganUtah+4Road-1-0.6-1.6
MichiganOregon State-14Home11-12.7-1.7
TexasOklahoma+6.5Neut-6.54.8-1.7
Oklahoma StateTexas+2.5Road0.5-2.2-1.7
TexasKansas State-2Home-1-0.9-1.9
FloridaFlorida State+4Home-75.1-1.9
Kansas StateOklahoma State+4Road-1-1-2
TexasBaylor+18Road-1513-2
Kansas StateBaylor+12Home-1513-2
NebraskaMiami (FL)0Road3-5.1-2.1
MichiganPenn State+4.5Road-1.5-0.6-2.1
West VirginiaOklahoma+10Road-74.8-2.2
LouisvilleKentucky-2.5Road5.5-7.7-2.2
West VirginiaTCU+20Road-1714.5-2.5
NebraskaWisconsin+1Home-41.5-2.5
MichiganBYU-7Home4-6.7-2.7
NebraskaMichigan State+6Home-96.3-2.7
Penn StateMichigan State+12Road-96.3-2.7
MichiganOhio State+16Home-1916.3-2.7
Virginia TechOhio State+16Home-1916.3-2.7
FloridaSouth Carolina+2.5Road0.5-3.3-2.8
TexasNotre Dame+7.5Road-4.51.6-2.9
West VirginiaKansas State+5Road-2-0.9-2.9
UtahOregon+14Road-118-3
Virginia TechVirginia-4Road7-10.1-3.1
LouisvilleClemson+3Home-62.8-3.2
South CarolinaClemson+3Home-62.8-3.2
Virginia TechGeorgia Tech+9.5Road-6.53-3.5
TexasTCU+21Road-1814.5-3.5
FloridaMissouri+10Road-73.5-3.5
Oklahoma StateWest Virginia+5Road-2-1.5-3.5
South CarolinaFlorida-2.5Home-0.5-3.1-3.6
NebraskaBYU-6Home3-6.7-3.7
LouisvilleFlorida State+12Road-95.1-3.9
South CarolinaLSU+8Home-117.1-3.9
FloridaLSU+14Road-117.1-3.9
FloridaOle Miss+6Home-95.1-3.9
NebraskaIowa-7Home4-8-4
South CarolinaTexas A&M+10Road-72.8-4.2
FloridaGeorgia+12Neut-127.7-4.3
PittsburghNotre Dame+3Home-61.6-4.4
South CarolinaMissouri+11Road-83.5-4.5
Miami (FL)Clemson+4.5Home-7.52.8-4.7
Miami (FL)Cincinnati+2.5Road0.5-5.6-5.1
BYUMissouri+12Road-93.5-5.5
CincinnatiCentral Florida-6Home3-8.6-5.6
CincinnatiMemphis+2Road1-6.6-5.6
CincinnatiMiami (FL)-2.5Home-0.5-5.1-5.6
LouisvilleAuburn+11.5Neut-11.55.8-5.7
BYUMichigan+7Road-4-1.9-5.9
Miami (FL)Georgia Tech+6Home-93-6
BYUNebraska+6Road-3-3-6
Miami (FL)Nebraska0Home-3-3-6
CaliforniaStanford+13Road-103.9-6.1
KentuckyAuburn+9Home-125.8-6.2
Miami (FL)Florida State+14.5Road-11.55.1-6.4
MinnesotaTCU+18Home-2114.5-6.5
MemphisCincinnati-2Home-1-5.6-6.6
Miami (FL)Virginia-6.5Home3.5-10.1-6.6
BYUFresno State-18Home15-21.9-6.9
IowaNebraska+7Road-4-3-7
PittsburghVirginia-6Home3-10.1-7.1
BYUUtah State0Road3-10.4-7.4
BYUUCLA+14Road-113.5-7.5
BYUBoise State+6Home-91.4-7.6
PittsburghGeorgia Tech+14Road-113-8
Virginia TechMiami (FL)+6Road-3-5.1-8.1
WashingtonBoise State+13Road-101.4-8.6
VirginiaMiami (FL)+6.5Road-3.5-5.1-8.6
Central FloridaCincinnati+6Road-3-5.6-8.6
IowaIowa State-4.5Road7.5-16.5-9
KentuckyLouisville+2.5Home-5.5-3.8-9.3
NavyNotre Dame+14Road-111.6-9.4
VanderbiltTennessee+17Road-144.5-9.5
Utah StateBYU0Home-3-6.7-9.7
PittsburghVirginia Tech+9Road-6-3.7-9.7
VirginiaGeorgia Tech+10Home-133-10
WashingtonOregon+15Home-188-10
WashingtonWashington State-4.5Home1.5-11.6-10.1
VirginiaPittsburgh+6Road-3-7.3-10.3
VirginiaNotre Dame+9Home-121.6-10.4
VirginiaUCLA+17Road-143.5-10.5
VirginiaBoise State+9Home-121.4-10.6
ColoradoUSC+12Home-154.3-10.7
VirginiaVirginia Tech+4Home-7-3.7-10.7
ColoradoOregon+16Home-198-11
Utah StateBoise State+9.5Home-12.51.4-11.1
ColoradoUtah+13.5Road-10.5-0.6-11.1
Oregon StateOregon+22.5Road-19.58-11.5
NavyArmy-13Neut13-24.5-11.5
Washington StateWashington+4.5Road-1.5-10.1-11.6
ColoradoColorado State-1.5Neut1.5-13.1-11.6
WashingtonUSC+19Road-164.3-11.7
San Diego StateUNLV-16Road19-31.1-12.1
Colorado StateColorado+1.5Neut-1.5-11.1-12.6
Oregon StateMichigan+14Road-11-1.9-12.9
Colorado StateBoise State+12Home-151.4-13.6
Oregon StateUtah+16Road-13-0.6-13.6
Iowa StateIowa+4.5Home-7.5-8-15.5
SyracuseLSU+20Home-237.1-15.9
Iowa StateTCU+29Home-3214.5-17.5
NevadaUNLV-14Home11-31.1-20.1
Fresno StateBYU+18Road-15-6.7-21.7
Fresno StateUNLV-12Home9-31.1-22.1
ArmyNavy+13Neut-13-10.5-23.5
ArmyPenn State+28Road-25-0.6-25.6
KansasKansas State+24Home-27-0.9-27.9
UNLVBoise State+28.5Home-31.51.4-30.1
UNLVFresno State+12Road-9-21.9-30.9
UNLVNevada+14Road-11-20.1-31.1
UNLVSan Diego State+16Home-19-12.1-31.1
UNLVUCLA+32Home-353.5-31.5
UNLVMichigan+33Road-30-1.9-31.9
  • One of the weirdest lines out there is Miami being 6-point favorites at home against Virginia Tech. According to the SRS, the Hokies are the better team: for example, VT is a 9.5 point road dog against Georgia Tech, implying that the Hokies are 6.5 points worse than the Yellow Jackets on a neutral field. But Georgia Tech is a 6-point favorite when they play in Miami, implying that they’re 9 points better. So Virginia Tech being such a large underdog, even on the road, is weird. Of course, that line quickly dropped from -6 to -4, so betters caught on to that.
  • The 2009 SEC Championship Game was a long time ago. Like, it was in 2009. Do you remember that game? The Tide upset Tim Tebow’s Florida Gators to win the SEC title en route to winning the BCS Championship against Texas. Since that game, Alabama has been favored in every single game its played. That’s 68 games, including every game in each of the last five years. The streak is going to reach 72 games, but as for now, the Alabama/Georgia game in Athens is a pick’em.
  1. Michigan State would be viewed as 2 points worse on a neutral field than Oregon, while being 11 points worse than Ohio State on a neutral field. []
  2. Note that I excluded Marshall and Ohio University from the above table. Since each team only has their game against each other listed, we can’t draw anything from that line about those teams relative to the rest of college football (we can determine that Marshall is expected to be about 6.5 points better than Ohio, but that’s about it). This logic doesn’t apply to a situation like Kansas, though. While we only have one game for the Jayhawks, since it’s against Kansas State — a team we can properly evaluate because they have lines for six other games — the fact that Kansas is considered 27 points worse than KSU has meaning. []
{ 11 comments }
  • Anthony Brown

    Took me awhile to realize this story was written in July 2015. I read it in October 2015. The season is unfolding quite differently, so perceptions of the sporting crowd must also be different. Would love to see an update.