Chase Stuart does this exercise every preseason now – generates a set of team power rankings from the early betting lines. I find it useful, because it provides some real insight into how Vegas sets up the season before it’s underway. It you need a reminder of his methodology, here you go:
You may be wondering, how do we know how good Alabama’s opponents are? Well, we can imply the ratings of each team in college football based on these points spreads. I explained how to do this last year, but here is the refresher:
The system is pretty simple: I took the point spread for each game and turned it into a margin of victory, after assigning 3 points to the road team in each game. Do this for every game, iterate the results hundreds of times ala the Simple Rating System, and you end up with a set of power ratings.
Two quick notes about the rankings.
1) These are not intended to be surprise. The methodology may be somewhat complicated, but all these ratings are intended to do is quantify public perception.
2) These are not “my” ratings. These are simply the implied ratings based on the Vegas (or, more specifically, the Golden Nugget) points spreads; nothing more, nothing less.
And here’s his top twenty.
As he notes, he’s not trying to reinvent the wheel with this. As a matter of fact, there’s a remarkable consistency at the top with others.
The top five teams based on implied vegas ratings are, in order, Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU, Clemson, Florida State. In Phil Steele’s top 10 rankings, he has Alabama at 1, Oklahoma at 3, at 5, Clemson at 2, and FSU at 4; in other words, that’s the same top five, just in a different order. ESPN’s FPI’s top six teams are FSU-LSU-Oklahoma-Clemson-Tennessee-Alabama. That, of course, is the same top six as these implied ratings. Bill Connelly at SB Nation? His top five was, as of February, also Alabama, LSU, Clemson, Oklahoma, Florida State.
Along those lines, Georgia at 12 doesn’t seem that out of line. Also worth noting is that Georgia faces five of the top 22 teams in that set of ratings. Add in Georgia Tech, South Carolina and Vanderbilt and that’s eight of the top 48 there. There may be more meat on those scheduling bones than we’ve admitted.
Nothing definitive, of course, but it does shed some more light on the preseason perceptions of Georgia.