By and large, the SEC rules college football. But according to one recent study, the conference doesn't rule when it comes to home field advantage.
In a recent report pieced together by statistician extraordinaire Paul Bessire of PredictionMachine.com, the Mountain West Conference, followed by the Big 12, dominates home field advantage in terms of how a team will perform at home against an “average opponent.” How that plays out though is different than one might, at first glance, consider when perusing the list.
Consider that Florida State is ranked at the bottom of the list, a shock given the Seminoles' recent run and the way that their home stadium turns out for big games. But in this study, home field is not necessarily an advantage for a national powerhouse given the way that they dominate regardless of the opponent.
“The best teams should be closer to the bottom of the rankings than the top because they should dominate more consistently and not be subject to the large swings in performance from home to away like what is seen in other teams,” Bessire wrote in his study. “While traditionally elite FBS teams should not fare well in this exercise, the same can be said about teams that are traditionally really bad.
“Where home field means most is with the next tier of teams - mostly BCS conference teams that can usually compete for conference titles, but do not have the depth to be consistent College Football Playoff contenders. That's when the value of home field matters most; when the talent is strong but not elite and players are more susceptible to the impact of crowd noise, tradition and atmosphere.”
So the study really looks at the impact of playing at home for teams that benefit the most from the atmosphere created in these big games.
Bessire went back to 2000 to explore home field performance for 127 college programs, giving preference to recent seasons. Using that standard, Bessire looked at every team and constructed a Home Field Advantage value that “is the expected advantage a team would gain for playing at home as compared to a neutral field against a totally average opponent if it played at a totally average pace.”
Above is a list of the top 10.
Boston College, No. 50, has a homefield advantage of 3.13. At No.70 is Rutgers. Temple checks in at No. 73.