College Football Games of the Year: Who did Linemakers Favor or Fade?

When the Golden Nugget released the 2015 College Football Games of the Year, I shared with you team by team summaries analyzing the lines.  However, far more interesting than just what the current lines are is the comparison of what they were the last time games were played.

As such, I went back as far as 2008 to find prior meetings with common opponents.  However, the vast majority of games lined by the Golden Nugget were rematches from 2014 meetings.  As such, we have very recent, relevant numbers to compare.

The key to such an analysis is adjusting for home field, because in most instances, teams hosting an opponent in 2015 were on the road vs that team in 2014.  So the proper adjustments were made to bring both meetings (current and prior) to neutral locations to compare lines accurately.  (As such, these don’t factor in nuances if particular handicappers value a home field above or below a standard 3 point edge.)

The findings are displayed in two tables below.  The first table (Line Swing Summary) shows the average line swing for all teams whose games were lined.  At the top of the list is a team favored to make the Championship game, TCU.  In their 8 lined games, they saw an AVERAGE line swing in their favor of over 8.3 points, and that compares across 8 games, all of which are rematches from 2014.  Their biggest swing is over Oklahoma.  Even though they only beat Oklahoma 37-33 in 2014 in a home game, Oklahoma was actually a 4 point road favorite in that game.  Now, the 2015 meeting is IN Oklahoma, but TCU finds themselves a 5 point favorite.  That’s a 15 point swing in TCU’s favor.  (Oklahoma would be a 7 point neutral field favorite in 2014; TCU would be a 8 point neutral field favorite in 2015).

Interestingly, two SEC schools come in next, with Arkansas and Tennessee being favored by approximately 8 more ppg than they were in prior meetings with their 2015 opponents.

But looking at the other end of the spectrum finds even more interesting information.  Former powers Oklahoma and Florida are favored by 9-10 points less than they were in matchups from 2014, in most cases making them underdogs in the games.  For instance, in 2014 Oklahoma played Tennessee in Oklahoma.  Oklahoma was a 21 point favorite and won by 24 points.  But in 2015, Oklahoma finds themselves a 3 point underdog on 9/12 in Tennessee.  That’s an 18 point swing in Tennessee’s favor!

Florida, as indicated in my prior article, is in some rarefied air in 2015.  Underdogs in all of their 7 lined games, some of the lines are unprecedented for them.  The last time they faced Ole Miss was 2008 (the only of their 7 lined games which is not a 2014 rematch).  They were favorites of 22.5 in the Swamp, but lost by 1 point.  Now, at HOME to Ole Miss, they are 6 point underdogs.  That’s a 28.5 point swing.

Below the summary table is the detail table.  Here, you can find (organized by team) every lined game as part of the 2015 Golden Nugget Games of the Year, and you can see how it compares to the prior meeting.  The column on the far right is the line swing, where you can easily see which team was favored more in 2014 as compared to the prior meeting, and by how many points.  If the line is blank, it indicates the prior meeting occurred prior to the 2008 season.

We’ve seen which teams the linemakers favored or faded with their opening numbers.  Next, we’ll analyze some of the 2015 line movement to see if bettors agreed or disagreed with the linemakers on these teams.  

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.