Preseason College Football Power Rankings: Summer Top 25 For 2023
College football power rankings are a powerful tool but misused by some media. Creating an accurate ranking (and rating system) is the ultimate goal when handicapping games. After dissecting thousands of transfers, coaching changes, returning production profiles, and existing power rating systems, I’ve settled on my summer top 25 college football rankings. Ohio State barely edges out the competition, followed by two-time defending champion Georgia.
Use these power ratings to better gauge college football national title odds and early season lines. Be sure to follow along with TheLines all season long for weekly power rankings.
Preseason College Football Rankings: Summer Top 25
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How Do Power Ratings Differ From Power Rankings?
Power rankings are commonly found throughout sports media – ESPN, NFL Network, Bleacher Report all love to drop “power rankings.” True power rankings are simply an ordering of teams according to strength; it only decides which team is expected to beat another.
Power ratings go one step further. They divulge by how much a team is expected to beat another. To create accurate power rankings, you must first create power ratings. There’s dozens of methods to create power ratings, with not one being the “right” way (but that’s the ultimate prize, right?).
The power ratings and subsequent rankings above are derived from existing power ratings systems like SP+, Sagarin, FPI, and many more, aggregated to create a general market temperature. You can find college football power rankings here, updated weekly throughout the season.
Power ratings are not a projected order of finish. The power rankings above are also not a projection of order of finish. Rather, use them as a guide for game-by-game handicapping. For example, these ratings favor Ohio State by 2.8 points on a neutral field (by 1.0 at Michigan) this summer. That projection is bound to change by late November.
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Why Do Some Teams Have Higher Power Ratings But Fewer Projected Wins?
Most simply, this is due to differences in strength of schedule. For example, Florida sits 23rd in these rankings, but projects for just 6.3 wins this season. Perhaps the numbers are a bit overzealous on the Gators (which I do believe they are), but Florida plays the second-toughest schedule this year. Non-conference stints with Utah and Florida State add to the usual gauntlet that is the SEC.
On the other hand, UCLA falls outside the Top 25 (31st), but projects for 8.6 wins on the season. The Bruins play the second-easiest schedule among Power Five programs (68th-hardest nationally), including a non-conference slate of Coastal Carolina, San Diego State, and NC Central (FCS).
While Florida fights for bowl eligibility, UCLA may be fighting for a spot in the Pac-12 Conference Championship. But on a neutral field, the Gators would likely be favored.
How To Best Utilize College Football Power Ratings and Rankings
Unless you’ve developed the ultimate skeleton key, a system with years of unbridled results, power ratings should never be the end-all, be-all. Instead, they can be one of your most powerful tools in the tool belt.
I use power ratings in the preseason for win total projections and betting futures. During the season, I use them to gauge where teams stand, create an expected spread, and then dissect the game further. Going back to Florida, I likely wouldn’t bet the Gators -1.5 or -2 over UCLA in a hypothetical neutral-site game. Florida may have the worst QB situation among the top 30 or so teams in the country, likely starting unreliable Graham Mertz.
Power ratings should always be coupled with other factors, including weather forecasts, home field advantage, injuries, coaching mismatches, and more. In comparison to its NFL counterpart, these variables in college football are amplified.
But having a solid set of ratings in college football – particularly with smaller-market games – is an invaluable advantage against the betting market.
College Football National Title Odds
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