Is There a Bye Week Advantage in College Football?


During the 2010 college football season, the University of Alabama football team faced six consecutive Southeastern Conference (SEC) opponents who had byes, a week off from competition, before their match-up with Alabama. Journalists speculated that these opponents would have an advantage due to the extra time for preparation, rest and recovery. After the season, the SEC responded by passing a new rule limiting teams to three conference opponents coming off bye weeks. Was this rule change necessary? If there is a bye week advantage, what is its estimated magnitude? This paper presents an exploratory analysis of data from the 2010 college football season. A linear model is used to estimate ratings of team strength for each FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) college football team as well as the magnitude of the home field advantage. The model is modified to estimate the magnitude of the bye week advantage under several scenarios. All of the scenarios considered agree that the bye week advantage is actually a “myth.”

Keywords: college football; rating team strength; home field advantage


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