2005 College Football Ratings Kickoff--A Primer

As many of you remember last season, I picked several college games against the spread. Somehow, I got lucky in September and October and hit the hottest winning streak I've had in 20 years, at about 80% success against the spread. All the while, I was experimenting with a way to put my thoughts on what wins college football games into a power rating. After crunching numbers together for a few months, I have finally come up with such a number--a power rating.

To briefly explain what I do that is different from most other ratings, I try to break the game down into the sum of its parts. Where other prognositcators might say State will beat Tech because they have a better quarterback, I say what does that matter? The QBs aren't facing each other one on one. I compare State's offensive line to Tech's defensive line and vice versa. Those units will have to square off. I do the same thing for every possible scenario--running game against defense vs. the run, passing game vs. defense against the pass, etc.

After determining who has the advantage at each scenario, I assign a numerical value to that advantage. State's running game is 4 points better than Tech's defense against the run. After summing up the differences, I throw in a few intangibles, such as home field advantage, revenge possibilities, having a bye week, etc. This brings me to a total difference, which then becomes my predicted pointspread. Based on where those advantages exist, I also determine a possible final score.

Previously, I applied this to all the Division 1-A games each week and then looked to see where the Las Vegas spread differed from mine by a determined amount (which varied based on the wager). The 7-point and 10-point teaser parlays looked very beatable last year, and I had lots of success doing so. <>P Starting this year, I have compared all teams as if they are playing every other team every week. It has allowed me to say that State's offensive line is 5 points better than the average defensive line. After comparing all parts of each team, I have assigned each team a beginning power rating. These ratings can easily be updated each week. For instance, If State's power rating shows it should beat Tech by a 35-21 score, and State beats Tech 21-17, State will drop some while Tech will rise. Even if State actually beats Tech 35-21, the ratings may move because past opponents' results may force both State and Tech up or down a few points. Thus, a team could gain or lose points after having a bye week.

This season, I will give you my power ratings each week and let you determine what to do with them. I will still break down the Vandy game in-depth, with a few other games of major importance to boot. Then, I will reveal my power ratings for every game as well as my power 25 poll. Have fun using these ratings at your own discretion.

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In the next week, I will begin reviewing each conference by revealing my pre-season power ratings for each team, starting with the lowest rated league and progressing to the toughest, the SEC. I will also supply how an annonymous major college football guru in Las Vegas thinks each conference will go. I'll tell you now, there will be some surprises, even in the SEC.

Additionally this year, I will be supplying a tailgate recipe for each Vandy game. I will try to tie each dish to the upcoming game. It doesn't mean I will supply a recipe for braised Volunteer on Rocky Top Gravy. If the upcoming game is a home game, the recipe will be apropos for fixing at the parking lot. If it is a road game, the recipe will be better-suited for your patio grill or your kitchen oven. Of course, if you read my previous piece on authentic barbecue, you might want to spend a weekend before the season and BBQ enough food to freeze for the 11 weeks of tailgating.

So, get ready for another fun autumn with Vandymania. I'm sure there will be lots to talk about with 100 differing opinions each week.

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