Home Field Advantage (06/24/15)
Which teams have the best home field advantage in college football?
If you are a college football fan, then you probably have thought of a list of the loudest and toughest stadiums to play in on Saturdays in the fall. However, the true home field advantage for each program may surprise even the most diehard fans.
Home field advantage in college football is typically presumed to mean about three points for the hosting team. This means that if two teams are identical, neither team should be favored on a neutral field, while the home team would be favored by about three if they played at one of the team's stadium. This can lead to essentially a six point swing from one venue to the next. The truth is that some stadiums could actually mean up to six points, while some do not help much at all (the expected difference in the margin of victory between Arkansas and Wisconsin from one stadium to the next, for instance, could be around 12 points, while the location does not really matter when Central Michigan plays Bowling Green).
The chart below ranks every FBS college football team in order of the strength of its home field. Fans of teams from power conferences, like Florida State, TCU and Stanford, may be disappointed at their apparent lack of impact at home games. However, it's not necessarily a good thing to top this list.
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.
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.
In the rankings below, it is also important to note that pace is a factor in determining a team's "true" home field advantage. For example, from a pure, raw points perspective, Baylor would be the top team in our rankings. When we standardize for the number of plays the Bears run compared to an average team, their relative home field advantage falls to sixth. Still, it is difficult to win or cover in McLane Stadium. The Bears are 24-1 against-the-spread in their last 25 home games spanning four seasons.
Note: All data goes back to 2000 and compares home performance to road performance relative to competition and expectations. In general, recent seasons are given more weight than seasons long ago, especially for programs that are newer to FBS football (Charlotte is not included at all since it has no FBS seasons). For teams that have new stadiums, seasons in new stadiums are given stronger consideration. The Home Field Advantage value in the charts 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 (we use this to assess the impact of home field advantage on every play in a game).
Remember, being high on this list isn't necessarily a good thing. The ACC ranks last in home field advantage and the conference is anchored by Florida State, which has the lowest home field advantage in the nation (it's technically negative).
The Seminoles are consistent whether they are playing in Tallahassee or on the road. That dependable play has helped FSU win seven conference titles and a BCS National Championship since 2000.
|Rank||Conference||Average Home Field Advantage|
Home Field Advantage Rankings
|Rank||Team||Standardized Home Field Advantage||Conference|
|1||North Texas Green||5.94||C-USA|
|9||Kansas State Wildcats||4.96||B12|
|15||Air Force Falcons||4.13||MWC|
|17||Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||3.98||C-USA|
|18||San Diego State Aztecs||3.96||MWC|
|19||Boise State Broncos||3.92||MWC|
|20||Colorado State Rams||3.90||MWC|
|23||Arkansas State Wolves||3.88||SBC|
|24||Georgia Southern Eagles||3.85||SBC|
|25||New Mexico State Aggies||3.84||SBC|
|27||Oklahoma State Cowboys||3.79||B12|
|28||Mississippi State Bulldogs||3.75||SEC|
|30||South Carolina Gamecocks||3.73||SEC|
|31||Florida Atlantic Owls||3.73||C-USA|
|34||San Jose State Spartans||3.61||MWC|
|35||Arizona State Devils||3.59||PAC-12|
|38||Fresno State Bulldogs||3.56||MWC|
|42||East Carolina Pirates||3.26||AAC|
|45||New Mexico Lobos||3.23||MWC|
|46||Northern Illinois Huskies||3.22||MAC|
|48||Notre Dame Irish||3.16||IND|
|49||Iowa State Cyclones||3.15||B12|
|50||Boston College Eagles||3.13||ACC|
|51||Western Michigan Broncos||3.07||MAC|
|52||Miami (FL) Hurricanes||3.05||ACC|
|53||Ole Miss Rebels||3.02||SEC|
|62||Penn State Lions||2.82||B1G|
|63||Eastern Michigan Eagles||2.81||MAC|
|64||Middle Tennessee Raiders||2.80||C-USA|
|65||Southern Methodist Mustangs||2.79||AAC|
|67||Texas State Bobcats||2.75||SBC|
|74||Wake Forest Deacons||2.63||ACC|
|77||North Carolina Tar Heels||2.52||ACC|
|78||Texas A&M Aggies||2.50||SEC|
|80||Old Dominion Monarchs||2.42||C-USA|
|81||Appalachian State Mountaineers||2.40||SBC|
|82||Miami (OH) Redhawks||2.39||MAC|
|84||Ohio State Buckeyes||2.37||B1G|
|85||Texas Tech Raiders||2.36||B12|
|86||Ball State Cardinals||2.29||MAC|
|87||Oregon State Beavers||2.24||PAC-12|
|90||North Carolina State Wolfpack||2.17||ACC|
|91||Michigan State Spartans||2.16||B1G|
|92||Georgia Tech Jackets||2.16||ACC|
|93||Utah State Aggies||2.12||MWC|
|98||West Virginia Mountaineers||2.02||B12|
|103||Western Kentucky Hilltoppers||1.86||C-USA|
|104||Kent State Flashes||1.77||MAC|
|105||Brigham Young Cougars||1.74||IND|
|108||Georgia State Panthers||1.60||SBC|
|112||Washington State Cougars||1.22||PAC-12|
|116||South Florida Bulls||0.81||AAC|
|118||Southern Miss Eagles||0.69||C-USA|
|120||Virginia Tech Hokies||0.41||ACC|
|122||Florida International Panthers||0.29||C-USA|
|123||Bowling Green Falcons||0.23||MAC|
|127||Florida State Seminoles||(0.72)||ACC|