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College Football Week 4 Analytics Betting Preview: Success Rate, Havoc & More (Saturday, Sept. 24)

College Football Week 4 Analytics Betting Preview: Success Rate, Havoc & More (Saturday, Sept. 24) article feature image
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Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Image. Pictured: Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN.

Week 3 of college football season is in the books, and things have begun to settle down. The Week 2 slate was full of upsets, but last week was notably tamer as big favorites took care of business.

We are now entering the middle of the season where these metrics will start to settle down and mean much more.

This breakdown looks at three metrics that have been found to be relevant to covering the spread:

  1. Havoc
  2. Success Rate
  3. Finishing Drives

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 4.

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Havoc

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 see where we can find some big Havoc discrepancies in Week 4:


Home Team Havoc Allowed vs. Away Team Havoc Rate


Top 3 Havoc Mismatches (Home Offense vs. Away Defense)

  1. Washington Huskies Offense vs. Stanford Cardinal Defense
  2. Arkansas State Red Wolves Defense vs. Old Dominion Monarchs Offense
  3. Tennessee Volunteers Offense vs. Florida Gators Defense

Away Team Havoc Allowed vs. Home Team Havoc Rate

Top 3 Havoc Mismatches (Away Offense vs. Home Defense)

  1. Air Force Falcons Defense vs. Nevada Wolf Pack Offense
  2. UCF Knights Defense vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Offense
  3. Syracuse Orange Defense vs. Virginia Cavaliers Offense

Success Rate

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 taken from our article on Success Rate.


Home Team Offensive Success Rate vs. Away Team Defensive Success Rate

Top 3 Success Rate Mismatches (Home Offense vs. Away Defense)

  1. Boise State Broncos Defense vs. UTEP Miners Offense
  2. Utah Utes Defense vs. Arizona State Sun Devils Offense
  3. Tennessee Volunteers Offense vs. Florida Gators Defense

Away Team Offensive Success Rate vs. Home Team Defensive Success Rate

Top 3 Success Rate Mismatches (Away Offense vs. Home Defense)

  1. UCLA Bruins Offense vs. Colorado Buffaloes Defense
  2. Rutgers Scarlet Knights Defense vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Offense
  3. Tulane Green Wave Defense vs. Southern Miss Golden Eagles Offense

Finishing Drives

What is Finishing Drives?

Finishing Drives is calculated as points per opportunity when the offense passes the 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 Finishing Drives vs. Away Team Defensive Finishing Drives

Top 3 Finishing Drives Mismatches (Home Offense vs. Away Defense)

  1. Georgia Southern Eagles Offense vs. Ball State Cardinals Defense
  2. UNLV Rebels Defense vs. Utah State Aggies Offense
  3. Marshall Thundering Herd Defense vs. Troy Trojans Offense

Away Team Offensive Finishing Drives vs. Home Team Defensive Finishing Drives

Top 3 Finishing Drives Mismatches (Away Offense vs. Home Defense)

  1. Syracuse Orange Defense vs. Virginia Cavaliers Offense
  2. East Carolina Pirates Defense vs. Navy Midshipmen Offense
  3. James Madison Offense vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers Defense

College Football Week 4 Betting Takeaways

Now that we’re done with all the charts, let’s make some MONEY!

Recommendations from this column have gone 1-0-1 in previous weeks — with the push coming via an absurd overtime game.

This week, the game standing out the most is College Gameday’s Saturday destination: Florida vs. Tennessee in Knoxville, TN.

Let’s take a look at that matchup:


Yes, I realize our projections make Tennessee only a 5-point favorite, and the books make Tennessee -10.5 as of Friday evening.

And you know what? That’s fine with me. Projections are supposed to be guidelines — not the end-all, be-all for your decision-making.

What stands out to me is how many mismatches Tennessee has on offense to complement the Vols’ aptitude in defensive finishing drives.

I’m a little torn between the spread and Tennessee’s team total, but the edge goes to the team total. I expect Tennessee to move the ball up and down the field with relative ease. With Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson under center, I’m not completely comfortable betting the point spread.

Pick: Tennessee Team total Over 36.5 (-130) ⋅ Bet to Over 37.5 (-110)

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