College Football Week 3 Analytics Betting Preview: Success Rate, Havoc & More (Saturday, Sept. 17)
Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images. Pictured: Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong.
Week 2 of the 2022 college football season was one of the craziest in recent memory.
Notre Dame and Texas A&M were both upset at home (!) by Group of Five programs, Alabama went down to the wire against Texas, and unfortunately, Texas Tech’s team total — our pick last week — pushed after a double-overtime game.
However, we can’t dwell on the past. It’s time to start thinking about Week 3.
Don’t run to the counter just yet though. Read this article first to make some informed decisions on where to place your money this weekend based on college football’s most important advanced stats.
This breakdown looks at three metrics that have been found to be relevant to covering the spread:
If you are interested in why these metrics have been chosen, check out this piece by Collin Wilson. To quote his findings:
“Data from the past five years indicates defensive Success Rate, Havoc and Finishing Drives are the biggest indicators in beating oddsmakers this college football season.”
Let’s dive in and see where we can find an edge in Week 3.
What is Havoc?
Havoc is a college football term defined as a play where there’s an unexpected outcome.
Pass breakups, forced fumbles and tackles for loss are just a few of the plays that cause chaos on any given Saturday. Collectively, these plays are used to build an identity for a team.
The calculation for Havoc is simply a cumulative number of tackles for loss, interceptions, fumbles and passes defensed divided by the number of plays on both sides of the ball.
Let’s dive in and see where we can find some big Havoc discrepancies in Week 3.
Note: We have switched to 2022 stats and will be using those moving forward.
Home Team Havoc Allowed vs. Away Team Havoc Rate
- Marshall‘s Defense vs. Bowling Green‘s Offense
- Old Dominion‘s Defense vs. Virginia‘s Offense
- Iowa State’s Offense vs. Ohio‘s Defense
Away Team Havoc Allowed vs. Home Team Havoc Rate
- Washington State’s Defense vs. Colorado State’s Offense
- Wisconsin‘s Defense vs. New Mexico State’s Offense
- Miami‘s Offense vs. Texas A&M’s Defense
Don’t look now, but it looks like Miami has two favorable matchups against Texas A&M. The Canes are coming off two blowout wins against terrible teams, so of course their stats are going to look good. The Aggies are coming off a huge upset at home where they did not play well, so their stats are going to look awful.
Week 3 is, in my opinion, one of the toughest weeks to bet because of games exactly like this one. We don’t know if A&M is bad yet, just like we don’t know if Miami is good. The addition of a new coach to the Canes makes this even more difficult.
What is Success Rate?
Success Rate is an advanced metric in football that measures efficiency, but with the important context of down and distance considered.
A play is defined as successful if:
- It gains at least 50% of the yards required to move the chains on first down
- 70% of yards to gain on second down
- 100% of yards to gain on third or fourth down
To calculate Success Rate, simply divide the number of successful plays (as defined by down and distance above) by total plays.
This definition is straight from our article on Success Rate.
Home Team Offensive Success Rate vs. Away Team Defensive Success Rate
- Minnesota Offense vs. Colorado Defense
- Rutgers Defense vs. Temple Offense
- Tennessee Offense vs. Akron Defense
Away Team Offensive Success Rate vs. Home Team Defensive Success Rate
- Washington State‘s Defense vs. Colorado State‘s Offense
- Wisconsin‘s Defense vs. New Mexico State‘s Offense
- Ole Miss‘ Offense vs. Georgia Tech‘s Defense
What is Finishing Drives?
Finishing Drives is calculated as points per opportunity when the offense passes its opponent’s 40-yard line.
Defensively, this is how many points per opportunity a defense allows when the opposing offense crosses the 40-yard line.
Home Team Offensive Points per Opportunity vs. Away Team Defensive Points per Opportunity
- Old Dominion’s Defense vs. Virginia’s Offense
- Tennessee’s Offense vs. Akron’s Defense
- Wisconsin’s Offense vs. New Mexico State’s Defense
Away Team Offensive Points per Opportunity vs. Home Team Defensive Points per Opportunity
- Wisconsin’s Defense vs. New Mexico State’s Offense
- Eastern Michigan‘s Offense vs. Arizona State’s Defense
- Tennessee‘s Defense vs. Akron’s Offense
CFB Week 3 Betting Takeaways
If you’re still reading this, congratulations! Hopefully, it’s time to make some money from those pretty charts. So, which game are we looking at this week?
There is one game that, in my opinion, stands out from the rest: Old Dominion vs. Virginia.
While the Old Dominion spread is incredibly tempting to take in this spot — especially after a win over Virginia Tech — I’m actually eying the total of 53.
Why? Both these teams appear to have disruptive defenses, which is particularly bad for these offenses, as both rank outside the top 100 in Havoc Allowed.
In fact, Old Dominion ranks outside the top 100 in every major category. Look for a low-scoring game in this one, which should help out Old Dominion as well.
Pick: Old Dominion vs. Virginia Under 53