January 21, 2019

Best Teams & Coaches as Favorites

One measure of the strength of a program is if the team wins when it should win, meaning when they are favored.

Not all favorites are the same, of course.  Being a field goal favorite is not the same as being a 21 point favorite, nor is a being a home favorite always the same as being a road favorite.

In the tables below, which looks at games between FBS teams from 2011 to 2016, these distinctions are not made – the data includes all favorites, whether they were 1 point or 21 point favorites. There’s all kinds of rabbit holes you can examine in this type of exercise, but I chose to stay at the top level in this instance.

The results are generally what was expected, specifically near the top, though I admit Kansas State at the apex surprised me a bit.

When you think about the best coaches in college football the names of Snyder, Swinney, Saban, Fisher, Petersen and Meyer are among the first off the tongue.

If we look specifically at coaches (at current/last school) the order would be:

The winning percentage as a whole was 77.3%, so the cutoff was Tennessee – everyone below that is below average.

One team stands out in a negative way.  Virginia Tech has lost 18 times as a favorite in the last 6 seasons, an average of 3 times per season.  Most of that obviously, was during the waning years of the Beamer era, but the Hokies did lose twice as favorites in 2016 (substantial favorites at that) despite winning the ACC Coastal.

Weekly SUR Pick’em – Week 10

Matt continues to lead and has found a niche with the parlay “locks”. Time is running out for the cellar dweller to make a move. Is this the week?

Weekly SUR Pick'em

Weekly SUR Pick’em

Weekly SUR Pick'em
The SUR crew of Matt Wilczewski, Marty Coleman and Chris Cox pick the week’s featured games against the spread and share a million star lead pipe lock. Feel free to get rich…at your own expense.

Vegas Confidential: Tigers vs. Pack & tale of two Kansas teams

Vegas Confidential

Vegas Confidential – Clemson/Louisville & Points to Ponder

Vegas Confidential

This is a game that you should enjoy watching without worrying about a bet. No real history between the teams and not many trends.

Vegas Confidential

While the Tigers tangle with the South Carolina State Bulldogs, we look to other areas of the country for games worth taking a peek at.

Best Bets Last 5 Seasons

The surest bet over the last 4 years is…..the Georgia State Panthers and Utah State Aggies?  Whatchoo talkin’ about Willis?  Over the last two years GSU is 13-5-1 against the spread (ATS), including 8-1-1 in 2015 and Utah State is 13-5 ATS.

Next up is another team from Georgia – nope not the Bulldogs or Yellow Jackets – the Eagles of Georgia Southern.  The caveat with Georgia Southern (and Navy) is that they are one year wonders (so far) being a newly minted member (for our purposes) in the Sun Belt (Navy was 22-23 ATS as an independent before joining the AAC).

Houston on the other hand, seems to beat the spread no matter the conference or coach.  In addition to the 24-11 mark shown below against AAC competition, the Cougs were 15-9 in CUSA ATS prior to that.  That’s 5 solid years of beating the spread.

The other team in this category is Western Kentucky, who went 21-14-1 ATS as a Sun Belt member and now is 13-8-1 as a CUSA member.

Probably the biggest shocker on this list is Vanderbilt.  Sure, most of that record was built under James Franklin, but even in the recently completed 4-8 season the Commodores were 6-4-1 ATS and in a 3-9 2014 they managed to go 5-5 ATS.

If you follow my ramblings on Twitter you know I’m not the biggest Stanford fan alive and have pointed out that the Cardinal loses as a favorite routinely (twice as double digit favorites this season), but in the bigger picture Stanford has been rock solid ATS, including 9-4 in 2015.
Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 3.02.17 PM

This information is obviously just one piece of the puzzle and there are many factors involved in how and why some teams perform better than others.  Baylor’s record ATS looks great, but not so much this season and were on their 4th quarterback (who moved from receiver) in a loss to Texas as a 21 point favorite.

My thanks to SUR reader Dan Biebel for formatting the data from our college football game database in a way that allows me to “select a team and hit enter” to obtain the details.

Up next I’ll take a look at the worst records against the spread over the last 5 seasons.

*Note: Team records are for current conference and separate records were tabulated for each conference a team was a member of during the 2011-2015 seasons.  Records for conferences that no longer exist (WAC and Big East) are not included.

Week 14 SUR Algorithm Picks

Week 13 was the second best week of the season for the algorithm and the picks with a 70% or better probability are now rolling in at 86.2%.  Too bad there’s only one of those in the small sample size in week 14.
SUR Results 2015 13SUR 2015 W 14

Week 10 Picks

The Luck of Stanford having to go for two (and making it) moves my overall record to 27-27 on the season, but still rocking 7-2 on picks of the week.  I’m out on a limb this week with the over in the Alabama-LSU game, but you know the old saying – when everyone is going one way (the under), go the other.

Point spread winners are bolded. Entertainment purposes only.

Favorite Dog Spread O/U
Arkansas (H) South Carolina (A) -5 52.5
Oklahoma St. (H) Kansas State (A) +21 68
Oklahoma (H) Texas A&M +13.5 68.5
Oregon (A) Washington (H) +16.5 74
Alabama (H) LSU (A) +5 42

Pick of the week: Take the Over 42 in the Alabama-LSU game.

Week 9 Picks

Another 2-4 week pretty much means that you shouldn’t take anything from this post, except who not to take.  A slump is an understatement at this point and last week it even crept into the pick of the week.  Onward I trudge towards the inevitable.

Point spread winners are bolded. Entertainment purposes only.

Favorite Dog Spread O/U
Clemson (A) Georgia Tech (H) +3.5 63.5
Oklahoma St. (H) Baylor (A) +14 79
Oklahoma (A) Kansas State (H) +13.5 58.5
Georgia (N) Florida (N) -3 49
Stanford (A) Southern Cal (H) -7.5 60

Pick of the week: Take the Over 58.5 in the Oklahoma vs. Kansas State game.