Defining college football home-field advantage




Defining college football home-field advantage

Home-field advantage isn’t what it used to be in college football. By the time the players enroll in college, a lot of them are used to playing games in different places. It also doesn’t take too many road trips for the players to get accustomed to being road warriors. With big budgets and big booster bucks, the conveniences of modern travel are afforded to most, if not all, teams around the country.

Heck, by this point, many players have moved from one college or university to the next because of the transfer portal, so it isn’t like shuffling around towns is a foreign concept. But fans are still in the stands, and some environments will always be more daunting than others.

I wrote in the 2022 VSiN College Football Betting Guide that determining home-field advantage was an inexact science. This may shock you, but it isn’t any different a season later. I do think that we can all agree that slapping a standard-issue three points on the home team side is outdated, so I’m using a baseline of two points again this season. Who knows, that may even go down for future seasons, but there is still something to sleeping in a hotel and having thousands of screaming fans rooting for your failure.

In my quest to find something that wasn’t random or arbitrary, I decided a couple of seasons ago to look at a team’s combined straight-up (SU) and against-the-spread (ATS) record at home over a five-year sample size and use that win percentage to place teams into “buckets” to determine whether or not their home performance warrants a home-field advantage above or below two points.

Based on that calculation (using the SU + ATS home records from Phil Steele’s magazine since they were conveniently displayed), I found 51 teams with an HFA value higher than two points and 13 with an HFA value lower than two points. There are 133 FBS teams this season, with Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State added to the mix, so just shy of 50% of the Division I FBS teams fit the criteria to be higher or lower.

Here are those teams for the 2023 season:

3.5 Points (SU + ATS Win % of 70% or higher)