The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 2, 2015

College Football Preview For Week 1, September 3-7, 2015

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings.  Many of you have read some of our preseason previews, but by looking at the increased volume to this site in the last 24 hours, we can tell that we have a lot of new readers today.

Yesterday, we posted the spreads for FBS teams only for our three ratings–PiRate, Mean, and Bias.  For those new to this site, a brief explanation follows.

Our ratings are unique in that we do not rely on scores alone to update our ratings.  Most of us here are sports metric statistics lunatics.  Our head man actually works in professional baseball as a “Moneyball” statistician/scout.

We use advanced statistics for each game to come up with the “theoretical score” of the game rather than the actual score, and then we update on our theoretical final score.  For example, if State beats Tech 42-21, this 21-point spread tells us very little.  What if State led 35-0 midway into the second quarter, and they pulled their starters after going five for five in touchdown drives?  What if Tech then scored twice in the final 7 minutes of a 42-7 game?  On the other hand, what if State led 28-21 with 7 minutes to go in the game, and Tech had driven 70 yards to the State 2 yard line, before fumbling at the goal with State returning the ball 100 yards for a TD, and then State added a second TD on an interception return with Tech driving again?

The 42-21 score is the only thing these two examples have in common.  In the first instance, State might have won 63-0 if they had continued to use their starters and top backups; State would win 100 out of 100 times against Tech.  In the second instance, there is a good chance that Tech might beat State 5 times out of 10.  We carefully peruse the play-by-play and statistics of every college football game among FBS teams. 

Our three ratings use the same type of data, but we have three different algorithms to come to the actual number.  The PiRate Rating is the same algorithm in use for the last 30+ years.  The Mean Rating is just that; it takes the mean of all our variables  with no bias.  Of course, the Bias Rating puts a bias on some data at the expense of other data.  Because it is similar to the PiRate Rating, these two will have a much higher correlation than they do to the Mean Rating.

Okay, now for something completely different.  Yesterday, we revealed our spreads for FBS vs. FBS Week One games.  Today, we show you our PiRate Spreads for FBS vs. FCS teams for Week One.  For reasons that involve how our ratings are calculated, we cannot supply Mean or Bias spreads with FCS teams, as it would take maybe 20 additional people to train and work with us.  The FBS vs. FCS PiRate Ratings are purely mechanical, so they are just an approximation of our actual PiRate Ratings.

We have repeated our FBS vs. FBS games so you will not have to look at yesterday’s entry.

This Week’s Games
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Thursday, September 3        
North Carolina (N) South Carolina 3.6 6.4 4.0
Central Florida Florida Int’l 8.4 11.2 8.4
Central Michigan Oklahoma St. -30.3 -23.5 -29.0
Vanderbilt Western Kentucky 0.4 -3.8 -2.0
Utah Michigan 9.9 6.4 10.4
Minnesota T C U -17.5 -5.4 -19.1
Idaho Ohio U -16.5 -10.6 -15.9
Tulane Duke -4.0 -1.2 -3.9
Arizona U T S A 49.3 31.3 48.6
Hawaii Colorado -16.8 -7.0 -15.9
Friday, September 4 PiRate Mean Bias
Georgia St. Charlotte 8.2 3.4 7.6
Western Michigan Michigan St. -23.5 -15.5 -22.9
S M U Baylor -40.2 -29.9 -41.8
Illinois Kent St. 21.3 14.4 18.5
Boise St. Washington 16.3 12.3 16.1
Saturday, September 5 PiRate Mean Bias
Georgia Louisiana-Monroe 45.0 39.6 44.4
Northwestern Stanford -12.7 -7.6 -14.6
Eastern Michigan Old Dominion -6.9 -2.8 -6.2
Nebraska B Y U 8.2 5.8 6.2
Temple Penn St. -6.4 -4.9 -6.0
Tulsa Florida Atlantic 7.5 10.5 8.0
Arkansas U T E P 42.3 30.9 42.0
Auburn (N) Louisville 11.8 7.5 9.9
U C L A Virginia 27.2 22.4 26.4
Tennessee (N) Bowling Green 32.2 20.4 29.8
N. Carolina St. Troy 40.5 44.0 39.0
Oklahoma Akron 44.6 31.5 41.5
Texas A&M (N) Arizona St. -0.8 2.6 -2.3
Kentucky Louisiana-Lafayette 25.3 16.5 24.4
Notre Dame Texas 13.1 10.1 12.6
West Virginia Georgia Southern 33.9 25.3 32.9
Florida N. Mexico St. 39.6 33.3 38.6
Northern Illinois U N L V 18.2 18.6 18.8
Alabama (N) Wisconsin 11.4 9.1 10.8
Florida St. Texas St. 33.4 28.1 31.6
Southern Miss. Mississippi St. -25.4 -20.7 -27.1
U S C Arkansas St. 36.8 31.0 40.9
Sunday, September 6 PiRate Mean Bias
Marshall Purdue -1.0 -1.5 1.7
Monday, September 7 PiRate Mean Bias
Virginia Tech Ohio St. -15.0 -6.5 -16.1
FBS vs. FCS Week 1 PiRate
Utah St. S. Utah 37.0
Wake Forest Elon 24.0
Ball St. V M I 28.0
Toledo Stony Brook 28.0
Georgia Tech Alcorn St. 44.0
Connecticut Villanova -7.0
Nevada UC-Davis 25.0
San Jose St. New Hampshire 1.0
Fresno St. Abilene Christian 17.0
Army Fordham 9.0
Syracuse Rhode Island 25.0
Oregon St. Weber St. 31.0
Ole Miss UT-Martin 36.0
Navy Colgate 29.0
Rutgers Norfolk St. 39.0
Kansas S. Dakota St. -1.0
Iowa Illinois St. 11.0
Maryland Richmond 20.0
Clemson Wofford 33.0
Pittsburgh Youngstown St. 18.0
Boston College Maine 22.0
Washington St. Portland St. 22.0
Texas Tech Sam Houston 15.0
Rice Wagner 27.0
Air Force Morgan St. 34.0
Buffalo Albany 13.0
Miami (O) Presbyterian 17.0
Appalachian St. Howard 31.0
Colorado St. Savannah St. 51.0
Wyoming N. Dakota 13.0
Missouri S E M O 40.0
Indiana S. Illinois 17.0
California Grambling 35.0
Miami (Fl) Bethune-Cookman 29.0
East Carolina Towson 28.0
S. Alabama Gardner-Webb 17.0
N. Mexico Mississippi Valley 32.0
Memphis Missouri St. 26.0
S. Florida Florida A&M 21.0
Cincinnati Alabama A&M 39.0
Louisiana Tech Southern 31.0
Middle Tennessee Jackson St. 28.0
Kansas St. S. Dakota 36.0
L S U McNeese St. 34.0
San Diego St. San Diego 28.0
Oregon E. Washington 39.0
Iowa St. N. Iowa 7.0
Houston Tennessee Tech 29.0

Please see our sister site: for complete rankings of all 128 FBS and all 32 NFL teams.

Edit: Special Thanks to Reader Charles for catching mistakes that allowed us to correct on Thursday morning.

Selections Against The Spread

Your voices/emails have been heard.  At our sister site,, we have received exactly 137 requests from you to bring back our selections against the spread.  We are happy that some of you sports fans remember that great 2011-12 season in which our ratings finished at the top of the Prediction Tracker ratings against the spread for the NFL, while our college ratings have had multiple top 10 finishes.

Before reading further, please make sure you read the following paragraph in bold:  He or She that uses these ratings as their lone source before wagering their house on this data might as well just sell their house now and at least have funds to move elsewhere.  We NEVER, EVER use this data to wager on games.  As analytics’ specialists, we understand that the one way to make money wagering in football is to be the book.  Yes, there are the Billy Walters of the world, but if you were he, you wouldn’t be reading this blog.  So, since you are not, be advised that wagering any amount of your hard-earned money on football must be considered in the same light as paying for something, because that is exactly what you will be doing: paying somebody else.

Okay, now here is how we will make our selections this year.  First, we will isolate those games in which our Mean rating differs enough from the official line to make it a possibility.  Second, of those possibilities in step one,  the six of us will pick 5-10 games that we personally like against the spread.  If 4 of us have the same game and nobody has the opposite pick in that game, then we go with that as one of our selections.  Because we believe that it is best to pick an odd number of games to prevent a .500 record and a loss, we will eliminate a game if we have an even amount of games.

Here are our 5 selections for Week 1

Home Visitor Line Our Pick
Arkansas UTEP 33.0 UTEP
Central Michigan Oklahoma St. -24.5 Central Michigan
Florida New Mexico St. 33.0 New Mexico St.
Georgia St. Charlotte 8.0 Charlotte
Texas A&M (N) Arizona St. 3.5 Arizona St.

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