May 19, 2019

Debunking College Football Myths – Myth #3 – Home teams have the advantage in Thursday night games

As a Clemson fan, I’ve heard this one ad nauseum. It goes like this: The Administration hates Thursday night games, so Clemson always plays Thursday games on the road and this gives the opponent and unfair advantage.

Yes, home teams won at 60.60% clip in 2011 and while Clemson has historically struggled on Thursday nights, that doesn’t mean this theory holds water across the board.

Lane Stadium (

There were 30 Thursday night games during the 2011 regular season, one of which was on a neutral field. Out of the 29 games with a home field “advantage” the home team was 13-16 (44.83%) straight up.

At this point, you are probably saying, “Yeah, but that was probably just bad matchups, David and Goliath games”. Factoring in the spread takes care of this and coincidentally, home teams were also 13-16 (44.83%) against the spread on Thursdays.

Home teams don’t necessarily have a magical advantage and don’t “always” win on Thursdays.


  1. Home field advantage really only falls to certain games during a week. The Thursday night game, the Saturday prime-time game, and the big time college rivalry games. These games depend on certain factors in my opinion that help determine the outcome before the game is played: like home field advantage here can be rebuffed by the record shown above. But I feel that it all depends on how the coaches prepare for the games at hand, if either team had a bye week before the game, and the distance traveled. While I agree that more upsets are bound to occur on Thursday/Friday nights, I do think home field advantage is a key part of the game.

    • Marty Coleman says:

      The sample size here is very small – 29 games. I’ll track this going forward to see if 2011 was an anomaly or the rule.

      Over the season 60.6% of home teams won, so there is something to be said for that.

      I agree there are many other factors for Thursday games than simply home vs. road, but that’s not how it’s typically presented by fans and media – typically it is presented as an absolute – home teams have a huge advantage on Thursday – the point here was to show that that is not always true.

      Thanks for the comment!


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