A question as old as time…which college football team has the best home-field advantage? While this dubiously can be debated for hours on end to no avail, we will do our best to settle this the correct way: with the numbers.
My approach was simple: see which teams had the highest cumulative EPA at home in the past 7 years. It was also interesting to compare each team’s home and away EPA–the larger the gap, the more reliant the team is on home-field advantage. Below are the top 100 in home EPA from 2014-2021.
Some key takeaways:
-Army at #1 overall. This team has been very reliant on home-field advantage in recent years. With a near 380 point difference in home vs. away EPA, there is no doubt that Army is a different team at Michie Stadium.
-Hawaii is fairly high on this list at #33 overall. Could it be the long distance opposing teams have to travel to get the university to play that gives them the upper hand?
-Ohio State at 81 overall is quite astonishing, especially as we notice their negative cumulative EPA at home. Embarrassing!
Below I have plotted the results, making it easy to determine which teams are outperforming the average on the road and at home (the red dotted line shows the averages).
One thing I had to look into was whether stadium capacity impacted a team’s home success. My first attempt didn’t show much–there was little to no correlation between these variables. Next.
My next task was to plot the total penalty yards for (not accounting for penalty yards against) earned at home for each team. The results were stunning. There is a strong correlation here between penalty yards for and stadium capacity, hinting towards something none of us should be surprised about–the larger the stadium, the greater the home-field advantage.
Looking at the number of turnovers created vs. stadium capacity also yields some favorable results. Nearly identical to the penalty yards chart, I had to do a double-take when I first made it. One thing remains certain: larger stadiums offer huge advantages to the home team, especially on the defensive side of the football.
I guess this means the biggest stadium in college football would hold the greatest home-field advantage then, right? Michigan Stadium it is!