2020 College Football Rankings: AP Top 25 Poll vs. Our Betting Power Ratings For Week 9

2020 College Football Rankings: AP Top 25 Poll vs. Our Betting Power Ratings For Week 9 article feature image
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Joe Robbins/Getty Images. Pictured: Jonathan Sutherland.

With the Big Ten and Mountain West back, things feel normal for seemingly the first time in 2020.

But do you know what’s going to make life even better? When the Pac-12 and MAC return in the first week of November.

No longer will we have to yearn for Wednesday night football and late Pac-12 games. MACtion and Pac-12 After Dark will make us feel whole once again.

And we’re so close.

Before we reach that point, though, we have one more week in which the Big Ten will take center stage, most notably with a top-25 matchup between Ohio State and Penn State. Even though the game has lost a bit of its luster after the Nittany Lions’ loss to Indiana, it remains one of the best scheduled games of the season.

And while both are top-20 teams in the AP Poll, they’re top-seven squads in Collin Wilson‘s betting power ratings.

A key difference is that the AP Poll focuses on past performance, while Collin’s power ratings look to find value on teams in the future. Let’s take a look at other teams that are experiencing something similar.

The Action Network’s College Football Betting Power Ratings

Each week, we compare the AP Top 25 Poll to The Action Network’s College Football Power Ratings to see how the betting market differs from conventional ranking systems.

Our power ratings are fueled by Collin’s projections, which aim to judge the true quality of a team based on advanced metrics, coaching changes, year-over-year roster continuity, and a host of other underlying components.

You can use his ratings to create a point spread between any two teams in the country on a neutral field — just subtract the higher team’s rating from the lower-ranked one.

Collin also publishes projected point spreads for each week’s slate of games every Sunday. You can use those projections to target early betting value even before sportsbooks release official lines for the week’s action.

College Football Rankings: AP Poll Top 25 vs. Our Power Ratings

After Week 8

Notable Team Differences Between the AP Poll and Our Power Ratings

Penn State Nittany Lions (+11)

  • AP Poll: 18
  • Power Rating: 7

Was Penn State’s loss to Indiana really a big surprise? Sure, it was one of the biggest upsets of the week, but there’s a reason the Hoosiers were only 6.5-point underdogs.

That was a much-improved Indiana team — not one that warrants a 10-spot drop-off in the AP Poll after the opening week. Now, the Hoosiers find themselves at No. 17 in the AP Poll.

As our own Darin Gardner wrote, Penn State thoroughly outperformed Indiana.

The Nittany Lions held a Success Rate of 49% compared to the Hoosiers’ 33%. They drove past Indiana’s 40-yard eight times, while the Hoosiers only did it five. Penn State even outgained Indiana by a huge margin, putting up 488 yards. Indiana only managed 211.

Now, I don’t think this is the week to put everything down on Penn State. I’m not in a position to bet against the Buckeyes.

But if the Nittany Lions fall to 0-2, I can’t wait to see how the AP Poll responds, and more importantly, how the betting market responds. There could be a perfect buy-low opportunity for Penn State when Week 10 rolls around.

BYU Cougars (-13)

  • AP Poll: 11
  • Power Rating: 24

Zach Wilson is legit.

Is there anything more fun to do on a Saturday night at 11 p.m. than just watch a good quarterback completely dismantle a clearly inferior defense?

Wilson has thrown for 1,928 yards and 16 touchdowns with only one interception. Oh, and he’s found the end zone six times on the ground as well.

But as fun as it is watching Wilson and the Cougars destroy Texas State by 38 points, there comes a time when a team becomes overrated. BYU is reaching that point quickly.

It hasn’t played a ferocious team yet by any stretch of the word. Unless, of course, you count Navy, Troy, Louisiana Tech, UTSA, Houston and Texas State as ferocious.

But in Week 10, the Cougars face the 25th-ranked Boise State Broncos in a game between two teams that are overrated according to the AP Poll and Collin’s power ratings.

Would it be worth it to take the lesser of the two evils — that is, the team that’s less overrated? I don’t know yet. We’ll have to wait until after Week 9. But would it be fun to watch those two teams go at it knowing they’re both a little bit overrated? Oh, yeah.

SMU Mustangs (-35)

  • AP Poll: 22
  • Power Rating: 57

How is SMU still this high in the AP Poll?

I understand the Mustangs are a good team, as evidenced by their 3-point win over a solid Memphis squad on Oct. 3.

But this team has not looked good the past couple of weeks.

First, it squeaked out an overtime win over Tulane, a team that has yet to win a conference game. And it was that close despite quarterback Shane Buechele throwing for 384 yards.

Then, the Cincinnati game came along and took all of my confidence in this team. As small favorites, SMU let Cincinnati go into Dallas and do whatever it wanted to the tune of a 42-13 final score.

To make matters worse, the Bearcats are also overrated in the AP Poll; the poll has them at No. 7, while they sit at 28th in Collin’s power ratings for a 21-spot difference.

But clearly, one of these teams is more overrated than the other.

I’m not going to trust a program that shuts down offensively when it faces good competition. I mean, the Mustangs averaged 1.9 yards per rush and 4.7 yards per pass against the Bearcats. That won’t even get it done when they face Navy this week.

But I get it. This is a different SMU team than it was at the beginning of the season. TJ McDaniel and Reggie Roberson won’t be coming back.

But that also means expectations shouldn’t be as high. SMU isn’t a bad team by any means. I’m just going to treat it with extreme caution when looking at the board for the next couple of weeks.