Do College Football Teams Bounce Back After a Poor Season ATS?

Do College Football Teams Bounce Back After a Poor Season ATS?

Back in 2013 I analyzed how college football teams perform after a terrible season ATS. The results were what I had mostly expected– almost every team improved, and more than 50% of teams finished the next season over .500 ATS. Here were the original takeaways from that analysis:

– 76 of 78 teams (97%) had more ATS wins the following year, 1 had same, 1 had fewer
– 41 of 78 teams (53%) finished .500 or better ATS the following year
– 35 of 78 teams (45%) improved by 4+ games ATS the following year

Now let’s take a look at how this has held up recently. Here were the worst teams ATS from 2015 (3 or fewer ATS wins) and how they performed ATS in 2016:

TeamATS in 2015ATS in 2016
Central Florida2-108-4
Fresno State3-87-4
Missouri3-95-7
Auburn3-99-3
Georgia Tech3-96-4
Kansas3-96-6
Texas State3-95-7
Kent3-96-6
Kentucky3-97-5
Oregon State3-99-3
Hawaii3-105-7

In 2015, the worst teams went a combined 32-100 ATS (32%). The following season, those same teams went a combined 73-56 ATS (56.6%). Here are some other takeaways from 2015 to 2016:

– All 11 teams (100%) finished with more ATS wins in 2016 than 2015
– 8 of 11 teams (73%) finished .500 or better ATS in 2016
– 5 of 11 teams (45%) finished at least 4+ games better ATS in 2016 than 2015. This falls mostly in line with our historical analysis.

Obviously we’re looking at the worst teams ATS, so it isn’t really a surprise that nearly every team improves the following season. However, none of 2015’s worst teams were that bad in 2016 in terms of ATS records, with the worst being 5-7. There were even teams that bounced back mightily like Auburn (9-3 ATS), Oregon State (9-3 ATS) and Central Florida (8-4 ATS). You also didn’t have to bet those teams too early in the year– they went 20-18 ATS in September and 53-38 ATS the rest of the year. It’s not an incredibly high ATS win % so there’s still a little work to do after pinning down a list of teams.

Here’s a look at the worst teams ATS in 2016 to keep an eye on for 2017:

Arizona 2-10
Connecticut 2-9
Florida Atlantic 2-9
Oregon 2-9
South Alabama 3-8
Southern Miss 3-8
Georgia Southern 3-9
Baylor 3-9
Utah State 3-9
Boise State 3-9
TCU 3-9
East Carolina 3-9
Cincinnati 3-9

Which teams do you think are in best position to bounce back with a solid season ATS?


Dan McGuire

Dan McGuire is the Operations Manager and soccer specialist at Sports Insights. He can be reached at dan.mcguire@sportsinsights.com.

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