Expectations and Realities: Week 1 AP Top 25 College Football Teams

Week 1 of college football has come and gone. While we wait for the polls to update, let us take a moment and see how each of the teams in the AP top 25 poll performed relative to their predictions.

In the table below you will find the 25 teams ranked in the AP preseason poll, the predicted spread, the actual result, and the percent error. The teams are sorted based on how well the team performed based on the spread for that game. Teams with a positive percent error performed better than expected while teams with a negative percent error underperformed. Note: this is not a measure of if a team won or lost a game, rather a measure of how well the team won or lost the game. For example, Oregon beat South Dakota 62-13. Oregon won their game in convincing fashion. However, Oregon was expecting to win by 54 points, but won by 49 points.

Relative Performance of AP Top 25 College Football Teams

Rank Team Opponent Spread Actual %Error
21 Texas A&M South Carolina 10 -24 340.0%
12 Georgia Clemson -9.5 -24 152.6%
22 Nebraska Florida Atlantic -20 -48 140.0%
18 Ole Miss Boise State -10 -22 120.0%
15 USC Fresno State -18.5 -39 110.8%
17 Notre Dame Rice -19.5 -31 59.0%
6 Auburn Arkansas -17 -24 41.2%
10 Baylor Southern Methodist -33 -45 36.4%
5 Ohio State Navy -13.5 -17 25.9%
13 LSU Wisconsin -3.5 -4 14.3%
8 Michigan State Jacksonville State -34.5 -38 10.1%
11 Stanford UC Davis -42.5 -45 5.9%
4 Oklahoma LA Tech -33.5 -32 -4.5%
20 Kansas State Stephen F. Austin -42 -39 -7.1%
3 Oregon South Dakota -53.5 -49 -8.4%
23 North Carolina Liberty -31 -27 -12.9%
14 Wisconsin LSU 3.5 4 -14.3%
24 Missouri South Dakota State -25.5 -20 -21.6%
19 Arizona State Weber State -46 -31 -32.6%
2 Alabama West VA -23 -10 -56.5%
7 UCLA Virginia -19 -8 -57.9%
1 Florida State Oklahoma State -20.5 -6 -70.7%
25 Washington Hawaii -17.5 -1 -94.3%
16 Clemson Georgia 9.5 24 -152.6%
9 South Carolina Texas A&M -10 24 -340.0%

I’ve added the following chart to help you visualize the data.

The first 12 teams in the table exceeded expectations while the bottom 13 underperformed. Texas A&M, ranked 21, tops the table exceeding predictions by 340% outscoring number 9 South Carolina 52-28. Expectedly, South Carolina underperformed by 340%. Defending national champions Florida State struggled in their opener underperforming by 70.7% against Oklahoma State. Georgia/Clemson and LSU/Wisconsin games were other notable games as it marks the only other two Ranked teams that lost their opener. The Georgia/Clemson game had an error of 152.6% while the LSU/Wisconsin game had an error of 14.3%. While Georgia trumped Clemson in a 2nd half shut out, LSU rallied in the second half to edge out their spread by half a point against Wisconsin.

On average, the ACC underperformed by 78.8% while the SEC exceeded expectations by an average of 31.3%. Below are the conference averages.

ACC          -78.8%

PAC 12     -12.8%

Big 10       18.0%

Big 12       30.1%

SEC           31.3%

IND           59.0%

Important notes:

1. Spreads can be found at vegasinsider.com.

2. Percent error is calculated as (Spread-Actual)/Abs(Spread)

3. If you like what you see here (or don’t) let me know below. You can also point out mistakes or criticize the article.

8 Comments
  1. I have to say this, the Vegas lines are ultimately set up to make Vegas money. While they can be good indicators of what a game will be like, it is there to make money. Lines also move depending on early gambling lines.

    • Keven,
      Chris is right. It makes it very difficult to really know how a game’s outcome will truly end up. There are other indicators out there, though I’m not sure if they really mean anything either. It’s all witchcraft, lol!

    • This is part of the reason I was willing to use these lines. Vegas want their predictions to be as accurate as possible so that there is a gamble involved for the gamble. For example, if Oregon would have been -3 this weekend no one that is thinking clearly would have taken the bet. Of course they aren’t meant to predict exactly how the game will go, only close enough for gamblers to think they have an edge.

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