How to Create Your Own College Football Power Ratings – NCAAF Ratings – News
The idea of setting your own lines of play probably sounds daunting. Bettors have mountains of public betting information and data to work with. However, you can put together something crude and fairly basic that at least gives you a good idea of where a line should go.
Power ratings are an inexact science. They are meant as a guide to give you a frame of reference. They are subjective in nature, which means no one’s power ratings are 100% accurate. But the ability to watch a game and compare your spread to the spread in the market can be an extremely valuable resource.
I know people who have all kinds of spreadsheets and lots of power rating sets. I am not one of those people. But I can point you in the right direction to designing an introductory set of power ratings that you can use to try and get ahead of the market.
The function of a power index is to be able to compare two teams and establish a difference. Home field advantage is included and I have a separate process for that. My process isn’t complex or time consuming, and the good thing is that we can refer to the game lines that came out for Week 0, Week 1, and Games of the Year to compare.
Put in place
Here’s how to set up a set of position power ratings:
Talent disparities are greater in college football than in most sports. Analysis of roster turnover and transfers – from the portal and junior colleges – is part of the process.
Typically, my scale for power ratings ranges from 40 to 100, with teams like Alabama and Ohio State nearing the century and teams like UMass and New State -Mexico at the bottom of the list.
To get to a maximum of 100, I use this scale:
Coaches/special teams: 15
The most important position in the field is the QB. The battle in the trenches is huge and represents 30% of my power number. Coaching is also important and I include special teams in the job description because special teams are much harder to analyze.
post by post
Quarters: A QB like Bryce Young or CJ Stroud will get the highest rating possible at 15. Someone just a cut below, like Will Rogers at Mississippi State or Brennan Armstrong at Virginia, might get a 14 or 14.5. Quarterbacks from teams such as UMass, Akron or UConn are likely to be in the 5-6 range. You also have to score them on a per-conference curve, so if CJ Stroud is a 15 at Ohio State, Aidan O’Connell at Purdue would be a 13 or 13.5. Connor Bazelak at Indiana could be an 8 or a 9.
Running back: For a 10, think Bijan Robinson in Texas or the stable of guards in Georgia. If a team is doing a lot, you might not want to rate RBs that high. On the other hand, a triple option offense could get a 9 or 9.5 at the RB position while taking points away from the WRs.
Wide Receivers: Wide receivers mean more in Western Kentucky than at UAB. There are also some WR bodies that have future NFL players and a lot of size, while others are used more for blocking purposes or have suffered big losses in the offseason. The best WR group in a conference might be a 9 or 10, so each group after that would go down the scale a bit.
Offensive line: Offensive lines alone are 15% of my rated power and that may not be enough. The ability to protect the quarterback impacts all of the position groups above and also impacts defense. I tried to expand that to 20 and borrow from another area, but the best offensive lines in the country are at 15 and the worst are between 5 and 6.
Defensive line: Defensive lines are also important and I tend to include rushers in this group. Does a team stop the race? Does a team get after the quarterback? How do they generate tackles for the loss? You also need to consider if there is a new defensive coordinator and if a team goes from a 3-4 to a 4-3. The job description for a defensive lineman changes depending on the scheme, and some teams may be better equipped for one than the other.
Linebackers: Linebackers mean so much in football these days with all the RPOs and how often tight ends are used in the passing game. Most college linebackers end up being tackle machines because there are so many different offensive patterns. The best groups get a 10, while the worst get a 4.
Defensive backs: Same story here, but defensive backs are often the ones to force turnovers. With all the post groups, it’s not enough to just look at the starters. I also look at backups, which is why a magazine like Phil Steele’s is really valuable for this exercise. Injuries are common in college football, and the difference between a four-year-old senior starter and a true freshman can be big. Again, the best groups get a 10 and the worst a 4 or a 4.5.
Coaches/special teams: It’s about 5 points for special teams and 10 for training, but the training part means more than the head coach. Coordinators are strongly taken into account, including new coordinators who change plans. Recruitment is also a small part of the evaluation process, as some coaches can pick up a lot of talent but won’t get as much out of it as others. This scale ranges from 7 to 15 for me.
The SEC as an example
To show you an example from a conference, here are my SEC power ratings:
Texas A&M: 86
Oh Miss: 81
State of Mississippi: 80
Caroline from the south: 74
Based on my “raw power rating,” Alabama would be -3 on neutral ground against Georgia. Texas A&M would be -5 against Arkansas. Ole Miss would be at -12 against Missouri.
Then I consider home advantage and create my own line of play. If the market line is a few points away from my line, I will take that gap at the start of the week and expect that ‘he’s getting close to my line.
The real skill is updating your power ratings as the season progresses, which I’ll cover in an upcoming post.
If you want to try this exercise, try jotting down a conference and then compare your lines with the lines from the Game of the Year for some trial and error. If your research places you higher or lower on a team, that’s fine. There is nothing wrong with that. That’s your opinion, but use the existing sports betting lines as a guide to make sure you’re not too far off.
I will be updating VSiN.com weekly on my power ratings, weekly adjustments and game lines to further this concept and process.