UT's home-field advantage is overrated
An in-depth look at home-field advantage numbers reveals some surprising results
When college football fans think about home-field advantage, most conjure up memories of palpable, emotional experiences in the deafening stadiums of their favorite team. Big-time moments in big-time games, under the lights in intimidating environments from Happy Valley to Autzen. Our instincts tell us that the biggest stadiums with the most boisterous crowds have the greatest impact on the results on the field. But do the numbers tell us otherwise?
Home-field advantage is one of the trickiest elements of a football game to measure with precision. For example, when the Auburn Tigers beat Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at home by 49 points in September, did that result have anything to do with a measurable Auburn advantage of playing the game at Jordan-Hare Stadium? Probably not, but when Cam Newton & Co. edged the LSU Tigers by a touchdown a few weeks later, being at home may have played an important role.
For this exercise, we compared actual performance versus expected performance to isolate that answer and extract home-field advantage -- and separately, "road-field" disadvantage -- for each team. The results were predictable for several teams, and very surprising for others.
The biggest shocker involves the fact that the Ohio State Buckeyes and Texas Longhorns -- two historically dominant programs that play in front of massive, rowdy home crowds -- rank in the bottom 10 of the entire country in home-field advantage. In other words, the boost (or lack thereof) these two teams get from playing at home is comparable to that of the Duke Blue Devils.
And the Bucks and Horns weren't the only storied programs to find themselves in poor shape in the home-field advantage standings. Here is the complete list of the nation's 10 best and 10 worst teams in adjusted home-field advantage:
To see which teams have the best and worst home-field advantages in the nation and also see the rankings of the best and worst road teams, become an ESPN Insider today.
Brian FremeauESPN Insider
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com