A mailbag question to Ben had asked why there is a perception of greatness surrounding the SEC West this season and why Tech would open as a touchdown underdog to the Bullies. I went through the data and it is pretty evident why the SEC West has such a strong perception. The division went 39-4 out of division (29-0 out of conference). Only uga and Mizzou won games in intra-SEC play against the SEC West so the West went 10-4 against the East. The SEC West also had wins against 11th ranked Kansas State, 17th ranked Wisconsin, and 21st ranked Boise State (in final CFP poll).
When looking at the gambling side of things, the SEC already has huge fan bases that drive a lot of the numbers against their teams but even then the West really performed well under the Vegas gun. The teams were favored by an average 22.7 points per game in out of division games and won by an average 26.9 points per game. If you looked at overall ATS, the league went a measly 22-20 due to 'Bama and Auburn fans' gambling habits. )The Tide and Auburn went a combined 3-10 ATS, meaning the rest of the division went 19-10.) Mississippi State went 3-3, failing to cover against UAB, Kentucky, and UT-Martin.
Regarding polls, I looked back at the preseason to see if preferential treatment was given to West resulting in super high post-season spots. Six of the seven squads were mentioned in the preseason AP and USA Today polls and five were ranked. If unranked teams get a default ranking of 40, the average rank of each team in the preseason AP was 19th and 18th in USA Today. The teams finished averaging 23rd in both polls so they on average lost about 4 spots from preseason to post-season. Mildly overrated in the polls.
Similarly, the college football rankings (using the 40 spot default for unranked) averaged the SEC West teams of 16th at week 10 while they finished on average closer to 20th. Are the polls biased towards the teams? (I would say yes.) Vegas did a fair job of hitting the spreads 50-50 for the SEC West, so at this point I'd say Tech has a 50% of covering the spread, meaning winning or at least losing by less than a touchdown. Conversely, we have a 50% chance of losing by more than a TD.
What are your thoughts? What other metrics can we look at to determine overrated/underratedness?