Meet the new boss, Nick Saban as always.
The Golden Nugget released the point spreads for 100 games this season, and Johnny Detroit was kind enough to pass along that data for purposes of this post. With only data for 100 games, how am I able to conclude that Vegas views Alabama as the best team (or, at least, one of the top 2 teams) in college football? Consider:
- Alabama is a 6-point road favorite at Ole Miss this year. That is the only game this year (of the seven we have lines for) where Mississippi is an underdog, and the Rebels are an 8-point home favorite against Auburn and a 4.5-point home favorite against Georgia. The Rebels finished 10th in the polls last year and are projected to be the 10th-best team this year, so this line says all you need to know about Alabama.
- Against Auburn, Alabama is a 15-point home favorite (that’s a touchdown better than Ole Miss is against Auburn). The Tigers were not great last year, but are still projected at #20 this year.
- In Arkansas, the Crimson Tide are 8.5-point favorites. In the other 3 home games for Arkansas, the Razorbacks are 7.5-point dogs to LSU (the #3 team by this methodology), 1-point underdogs to Mississippi, and a 2.5-point favorite against Florida.
- Alabama is a 15-point favorite at home against Mississippi State and a 14-point home favorite against Texas A&M. Both of those teams are projected to be, by Vegas, top 30 teams this year.
- In Tennessee, Alabama is a 1-point dog, but the Vols are projected as the 6th best team this year! Tennessee is a pick’em in Georgia, a 5-point favorite in College Station, an 11-point favorite at home against Florida, and a 13-point favorite in a neutral site game against Virginia Tech.
- LSU is projected to be the 3rd best team in college football. The Tigers are an 11-point favorite at home against MSU, a 9.5-point home favorite against Ole Miss, 7.5-point road favorites in Florida and Arkansas, a touchdown favorite in Auburn, a 6-point favorite in College Station, and – only – a 2.5-point home favorite against Alabama.
You may be wondering, how do we know how good Alabama’s opponents are? Well, we can imply the ratings of each team in college football based on these points spreads. I explained how to do this last year, but here is the refresher:
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, and you end 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 51 college football teams. 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 margin of victory 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, Alabama is projected to be the strongest team in college football, but Oklahoma is just a hair behind: [click to continue…]