College Football Stability Scores for Week 2
After last week’s Stability Mismatches produced a record of 9-6 ATS, I’m here to unveil the Week 2 college football plays that qualify for my long-running system that quantifies the stability level of all FBS teams in college football entering a given season. Of note, the mere fact that we have already seen 15 Stability Mismatches over the Week 0/1 schedules, and have 20 more for this week, should give you an idea of just how much instability there is in play for 2023. This is a far greater volume of plays than usual.
One interesting thing that we did see last week, the two most unstable teams in terms of roster changeover due to the transfer portal, Colorado and Texas State, put up huge performances in upset wins to start their seasons. This will be something to watch going forward, not just this season but for future years. Perhaps when this much change occurs, even the experts behind the betting counter have trouble quantifying it.
If you missed the explanation and other full details for the Stability System, or are new to VSiN, I encourage you to go back into the VSiN College Football Betting Guide or this archived story from VSiN.com in which I fully detail the methodology.
For a short explanation, this Stability System, which I’ve employed for the last 12 seasons without a losing campaign, measures one team’s stability against another’s. Using a time-tested point-assigning process for coaches, quarterbacks, and returning starters, I am able to come up with an overall stability score for each team. When the difference between these scores is 8 or higher, I consider it a “Stability Mismatch.”
This came up last week again as a source of confusion, but the important thing to note here is that the stability score difference between the two teams has nothing to do with the point spread for a given game. I am simply making the assumption that odds makers have not given enough credence to the stability difference and that their line is off because of it.
Just below, I’ve again put together a list of the Top College Football Stability Mismatches for Week 2 on the schedule. You can also view the updated Stability Chart for all 133 FBS teams here:
Note that I deducted the returning quarterback as well as four other starters who have been suspended at Iowa State. That made this week’s game versus Iowa an official mismatch. Also, note that should Kansas QB Jalon Daniels again miss his team’s game this week versus Illinois, that will no longer qualify as a play.
I will again offer the weekly mismatches next week for you to use before retiring the system for another year. I typically believe that after 2-3 games for each team, oddsmakers are able to catch up and fully adjust for the changes to the teams. However, you should feel comfortable in employing this strategy in the first few weeks while the dust settles.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2023
(351) ILLINOIS at (352) KANSAS (-2)
Stability Advantage: KANSAS by 9
Fading Illinois was one of the winners on the Week 1 stability mismatches, as the Illini were nearly upset at home by Toledo. They survived a 30-28 decision by kicking the game-winning field goal in the final seconds. It was obvious that their defense isn’t going to be able to live up to the standards set a year ago. That’s what happens when you have to replace a bunch of talented starters and the coordinator. Kansas meanwhile, gets its first real test of the season after opening last week with a 48-17 win over FCS Missouri State. QB Jalon Daniels is expected to play here after missing the opener, and he leads a group of 17 starters back this season.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2023
(311) CINCINNATI at (312) PITTSBURGH (-7.5)
Stability Advantage: PITTSBURGH by 11
Cincinnati and Pittsburgh both cruised to opening week wins over FCS foes last Saturday, with the Bearcats doing it in perhaps more impressive fashion, putting up 66 points and 667 yards of offense on Eastern Kentucky. It was their first game in the post-Luke Fickell era, and it may have brought up a point or two on the line here for the upcoming matchup versus Pittsburgh. Going on the road to face Pitt at the stadium formerly known as Heinz Field is a far different animal. Head coach Pat Narduzzi’s team brings back only half its starters but has a veteran QB in Boston College transfer Phil Jurkovec, and overall seems like the team that is more ready for this matchup.
(315) PURDUE at (316) VIRGINIA TECH (+1)
Stability Advantage: VIRGINIA TECH by 15
Head coach Ryan Walters’ new defense at Purdue was carved up last week by Fresno State in a 39-35 home loss. The biggest problem for the Boilermakers with that loss is that it may have been their most “winnable” game until November. It starts getting tougher for this unstable Purdue squad this week with a game at Virginia Tech, who rolled last week to a 19-point win over Old Dominion. The Hokies boast one of the toughest home-field environments in college football, and thus this could be a major challenge for an inexperienced Purdue team still learning new systems on both sides of the ball.
(321) OKLAHOMA STATE (-3) at (322) ARIZONA STATE
Stability Advantage: OKLAHOMA STATE by 8
Neither Oklahoma State nor Arizona State was very impressive in its opening week win over FCS foes. In fact, the Sun Devils were nearly tripped up by Southern Utah, surviving 24-21 as 34.5-point favorites. That could be a very bad sign of what’s to come for Arizona State in what looks to be a challenging season for first-year head coach Kenny Dillingham. Not only is ASU replacing a lot of talent while learning new systems, but they are in what is arguably one of the top conferences in the country. This out-of-conference game versus OSU seems underpriced, as the Cowboys are the far more stable team, running the systems of 19th-year head coach Mike Gundy, albeit with some new pieces in place.
(327) TULSA at (328) WASHINGTON (-35.5)
Stability Advantage: WASHINGTON by 16
Washington shook off a slow start last week versus Boise State to eventually roll to a 56-19 win. Quarterback Michael Penix was phenomenal for the Huskies, as expected, as their offense put up 490 yards through the air. Meanwhile, Tulsa faced one of the worst teams in the FCS level and allowed 250 yards to Arkansas-Pine Bluff. While the Golden Hurricane still won comfortably, this trip to Pac-12 country is an altogether different challenge. Especially for a first-year head coach with just nine starters back. The line here tells a big story, as at 35.5, the experts are almost daring bettors to take Tulsa. This one has the potential to get ugly.
(331) UNLV at (332) MICHIGAN (-36)
Stability Advantage: MICHIGAN by 10
Michigan did not qualify as a stability system play last week versus East Carolina and responded with a lackluster effort in a 30-3 win. How can a 30-3 win be considered lackluster you ask? Well, the oddsmakers expected a 45-9 decision based on the numbers they set for the contest. The Wolverines actually seemed more interested in making a statement about the suspension of head coach Jim Harbaugh than playing the game. I expect a more focused effort this week against a UNLV team that comes off a 44-14 win over Bryant, a game that was much easier than thought. The Runnin’ Rebels earned their name by rushing for 283 yards. It won’t be that easy against powerful Michigan though, especially at the Big House. This is a tall task for an inexperienced, unstable team. Wolverines roll.
(335) IOWA (-4) at (336) IOWA STATE
Stability Advantage: IOWA by 8
As I mentioned earlier, this game only qualified late as Stability Mismatch when the suspensions to the Iowa State starting players were factored in. If by chance QB Hunter Dekkers or at least two other starters are reinstated, this game will no longer qualify. Iowa comes off a 24-14 win over Utah State, a loss on this same system, despite the fact that the Hawkeyes put up 14 points in the first half of the first quarter. The offense stalled afterward, in familiar Iowa fashion. ISU cruised to a win over Northern Iowa last week 30-9, but was actually outgained on the day, 279-250. This week could be a wake-up call versus the tough experienced Hawkeyes.
(341) TEXAS STATE at (342) TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO (-11.5)
Stability Advantage: TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO by 12
Texas State defied my Stability System last week and rolled to a huge upset win of Baylor on the road. Head coach GJ Kinne’s new systems flourished, as did QB TJ Finley and several other key transfers in. However, there seems to be a massive adjustment made for this game, as prior to last week’s outcomes, this line figured to be closer to -21. UTSA is very experienced this season and hungry to recover from the season-opening 14-12 loss at Houston. This sport is played one game at a time. Don’t put too much stock into what happened last week just yet. A little understated fact from last week’s TSU win, the Bobcats allowed 524 yards to Baylor.
(345) KENT ST at (346) ARKANSAS (-38.5)
Stability Advantage: ARKANSAS by 10
On cue, Kent State started this year’s stability plays in fine fashion, as the team sporting a stability score of 0 was trounced on the road at UCF last Thursday night, dropping a 56-6 decision. This week’s game doesn’t figure to get much easier, and in fact, it could be even worse, as the line is actually higher, and this one will be on the road in SEC country. Arkansas boasts the talented and multi-dimensional KJ Jefferson at quarterback, and he will be licking his chops to get at a KSU defense that allowed 723 yards to UCF. This appears to not only be a stability mismatch but perhaps more importantly, a physical mismatch as well.
(347) EASTERN MICHIGAN at (348) MINNESOTA (-19.5)
Stability Advantage: MINNESOTA by 8
Minnesota was one of the six losing teams on my stability plays for Week 1, although the Golden Gophers did rely on their experience and stability edge over Nebraska to rally for an improbable 13-10 late victory. Head coach PJ Fleck will be looking for a more complete effort from his team this week against an EMU team that brought back just half of its starters from a year ago. The Eagles also need to be concerned as their new defense under a pair of fresh coordinators allowed 204 yards rushing to Howard in a 33-23 win. Minnesota will obviously be a physical upgrade this week and playing in Big Ten country is a lot tougher task.
(361) ARIZONA (+9) at (362) MISSISSIPPI STATE
Stability Advantage: ARIZONA by 10
Arizona’s season got off to a strong start with a 38-3 win over Northern Arizona. The most encouraging thought from that game was that the Wildcats held NAU to 13 points below expectation. If they can do the same against QB Will Rogers and MSU, they will have a shot at the upset in Starkville. The Bulldogs were pretty impressive themselves last week in routing SE Louisiana 48-7, but playing a team from the conference that is 13-0 in Weeks 0/1 will be a different animal. Head coach Jedd Fisch’s team has some good momentum going after winning three of its last four games, and I expect them to use this stability edge to challenge Mississippi State.
(363) APPALACHIAN STATE at (364) NORTH CAROLINA (-15.5)
Stability Advantage: NORTH CAROLINA by 9
North Carolina looked very strong last week in turning back South Carolina in one of the featured games of opening weekend. Could this week’s home contest versus Appalachian State offer the chance for a letdown? Certainly, it could, but one of the main factors that this stability analysis highlights is that experienced and stable teams are better at dealing with such situations. ASU has only half of its starters back this season, and its defense struggled in containing Gardner-Webb last week. How much harder will it be to defend against QB Drake Maye and the rest of the talented Tar Heels offense?
(365) NEW MEXICO STATE (+13) at (366) LIBERTY
Stability Advantage: NEW MEXICO STATE by 9
Former Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze’s offense got off to a huge start against Auburn. His old team did reasonably well, putting up 34 points on Bowling Green in a 10-point win. Realistically though, the past few years’ Flames teams would have probably gotten 50. That is of concern as they get ready to host New Mexico State, a team already playing its third game on Saturday. What is also of concern is that Liberty allowed 191 yards rushing and 6.2 yards per rush to the Falcons. NMSU has averaged 554+ yards of balanced offense in its first two contests, a win and a loss. Head coach Jerry Kill’s team is a returning bowl team that brought back nine offense starters, including QB Diego Pavia. The Aggies’ offense should help them compete in a game that stacks up as one of their tougher challenges of the season.
(367) OHIO (+5) at (368) FLORIDA ATLANTIC
Stability Advantage: OHIO U by 13
I’ll start out by saying that even if Ohio QB Kurtis Rourke misses this game, the Bobcats would still qualify as a stability mismatch play, as they have a 13-point stability score edge and that would drop to 9. He is listed as day-to-day. However, that might change your mind still, as Rourke makes up a big percentage of production for his team’s offense. FAU has 17 starters back for 2023, but a new QB and a fully changed coaching staff. Ohio is the far more stable team and playing as an underdog in what stacks up as two similar-level programs.
(369) UAB at (370) GEORGIA SOUTHERN (-5.5)
Stability Advantage: GA SOUTHERN by 9
UAB and new head coach Trent Dilfer are one of the teams in 2023 that sports a stability score of 0 heading into the season. The Blazers had a fortunate reprieve last week by opening against North Carolina A&T, an opponent they handled comfortably. It gets a lot tougher this week as they travel to take of Georgia Southern. Head coach Clay Helton’s team has 12 starters back and brought in former Tulsa QB Davis Brin through the transfer portal. The Eagles rolled in their opener, holding The Citadel to 14 yards through the air in a 34-0 win. This may seem like a relatively even matchup on paper, but stability scores of 0 are automatic play against teams for me early.
(371) LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (-7.5) at (372) OLD DOMINION
Stability Advantage: LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE by 8
Old Dominion was one of the teams we faded last week in our stability plays, and it worked well, as the Monarchs lost at Virginia Tech. ODU’s reworked offense was overmatched and clearly missed QB Hayden Wolff, who transferred out after last season, as the passing attack averaged just 3.8 YPA. They’ll be a home dog here to a Louisiana-Lafayette team that dominated Northwestern State last week but failed to cover the point spread. The yardage margin in that game was 429-187, and the fact that the Ragin’ Cajuns did not cover could be minimizing the enthusiasm they are receiving for bettors this week.
(373) NORTH TEXAS at (374) FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (+14) Stability Advantage: FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL by 13
Mother Nature provided what was supposed to be an edge for North Texas against Cal last week, but the stability edge the Bears enjoyed outweighed that aspect by far as they capitalized and added a notch to the win column for our system. North Texas is back on the short end of another stability mismatch this week against Florida International, a team already playing its third game of the season. The Panthers are 1-1 SU and ATS but playing far better defensively than offensively in the early going. Perhaps that can change this week, as the Mean Green allowed 58 points and 669 yards to Cal.
(375) JACKSONVILLE STATE (+13) at (376) COASTAL CAROLINA
Stability Advantage: JACKSONVILLE STATE by 10
Head coach Jamey Chadwell left Coastal Carolina after last season, leaving the Chanticleers to face a transitional season this year. Fortunately, multi-year starting QB Grayson McCall decided to return. His presence alone helped CCU compete well last week at UCLA, as they were able to get the ATS win in a 27-13 decision. They were a heavy underdog in that game, the opposite of this week’s outing versus Jacksonville State. Laying points as an unstable program usually proves to be a challenge. Jacksonville State has started the season well with two SU and ATS wins for head coach Rich Rodriguez. His experienced team is playing well up front on both sides of the ball. That is a good sign for a sizable underdog.
(383) TEXAS (+7.5) at (384) ALABAMA
Stability Advantage: TEXAS by 11
It’s a rare treat when we get one of the week’s biggest games qualifying as a stability mismatch. It’s even rarer when that system is suggesting to play against one of the country’s foremost programs on its home field. Texas comes into this season with a stability edge on Alabama, in addition to the memories of nearly taking down what, on paper, was a far stronger Tide team last year about this time. Neither team was challenged a week ago and should come into the contest with confidence. Will it be Texas’ intact coaching staff and returning player experience edges that make the difference? That’s what the stability system projects will happen.
(387) CHARLOTTE at (388) MARYLAND (-25.5)
Stability Advantage: MARYLAND by 11
New Charlotte head coach Biff Poggi’s team got the win in its first outing, 24-3 over FCS South Carolina State, but there wasn’t a whole lot about that outing that would provide significant optimism for the rest of the season. In fact, the 49ers didn’t even cover the spread, coming up about 10 points short offensively of the expectation. Not a surprise considering this team brought back just four offensive starters. Charlotte will need a lot more points to keep up with Maryland and prolific QB Taulia Tagovailoa. The Terps are back off an 8-5 season with a stud quarterback and 12 other starters back. This is seemingly a program on the way up. If so, they’ll prove it here.
(391) STANFORD at (392) USC (-29)
Stability Advantage: USC by 18
There are times when a stability mismatch goes against some of the stronger principles I like to wager upon. Last week, it was quite obvious that there was too much unfound hype going with Hawaii in their home opener against Stanford. The line moved from the Cardinal favored by a TD at opener to around -3 at kickoff. It was still Pac-12 versus Mountain West mind you. It wasn’t more than a quarter into the game that I regretted making the play, despite the “stability” margin. For this week, however, I think Stanford’s better-than-expected performance is allowing us to get an underpriced USC team on the system. Prior to last week, this number would have been well into the 30s. Now, with bettors thinking the Cardinal “aren’t that bad,” the line has settled at -29. Guess what? I still think Stanford will be really bad this year, and USC is way better. The Trojans are scoring 61 PPG in their first two outings. They are also far more experienced. After Stanford allowed 355 yards through the air to Hawaii, I have a hard time seeing their defense get the USC offense off the field even a single time. Why wouldn’t this game be a rout?