Backing The Big Boys

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The SSA Power Ratings are out and there is something interesting about them. Not a single general 5 school makes the SSA Top 25. UCF, coming off of an amazing season, checks in at number 41. The G5 darling Boise State Broncos rank 28th (highest rated G5 school). Lane Kiffin has everyone paying attention to FAU. Where do the Owls rank? They’re 47th. Looking around the college football landscape I saw numerous G5 teams in top 25s and began to wonder why other sources rate these small schools higher than we do. What I found is not surprising; our numbers reflect reality and the misperception created by other sources can be to your benefit week 1.

Digging through the data, the reason these small schools get noticed is because of their win count from last year. Polls and even numerous sets of power numbers fail to fully account for the level of competition that these general five schools play. Want an example? Boise State was 11-3 last year but was smashed at home by Virginia 42-23; Virginia finished the season with a losing record. Here’s another one. Florida State had down year and finished the season with the same record as Southern Miss, but blew out Southern Miss in their bowl game 42-13.

The misperception of how good these small schools are can give you an edge when handicapping games week 1. Everyone remembers how UCF took down Auburn last year but people forget the numerous times an Auburn destroys a UCF. With this in mind, I want to share with you a week 1 pick that stood out to me based on the SSA Power Ratings.

Colorado State v. Colorado (-6/-235 via 5dimes)
SSA Power Line: Colorado -9.5
This is a neutral site game at Mile High. While the Rams had a winning record last season and the Buffaloes had a losing one, the Buffaloes come into this game ranked #62 while the Rams are #97. Mike MacIntyre did a great job at San Jose State and was able to guide Colorado to a 10-4 record in 2016. While it will be a young team, I believe MacIntyre will have his players ready week 1. It’s much more difficult for a Mountain West team to replace starters and with only 9 starters back week 1 will be a tough outing for Mike Bobo and Colorado State. MacIntyre is 2-0-1 ATS against Bobo and the Buffs easily covered the spread in the last two meetings. The SSA Power Line on this game is Colorado -9.5, indicating line value of 3.5 points. Look for the Buffs to win this one by at least a TD and cover the spread for a third straight year.

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About Jordan Sundheim 185 Articles
Jordan Sundheim is a veteran of the sports analytics field with a background in both athletics and statistics. He earned his master's at Duke, coached football at Stanford, and is currently a sports analytics consultant.