Posted: 4:14 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, 2013
Earlier today, CBS announced that after a one-year hiatus, Florida-Tennessee was going back to being the 3:30 Game of the Week on September 21. The only real competition for the spot was Auburn-LSU, which will instead be a night game. And there was much rejoicing at And the Valley Shook.
LSU is the SEC program perhaps the best known for liking night games, but most everyone in the league does too. There's a good reason for that, at least among the big schools.
To recap, I defined any game where the difference in teams' F/+ ranking was greater than 10 percentage points as a mismatch. In those games, there could possibly be an upset. If the gap between the teams was less than that, then it was a tossup (and therefore no upset could occur).
I found that in all SEC games between 2007-12, there were 21 upsets in 206 mismatches for an upset rate of 10.2%. There were 11 home upsets and 10 road upsets, so venue didn't seem to matter. Despite that fact, home teams had a .659 winning percentage in tossups. Home field advantage is real.
I also kept track of three different time blocks: early games (kickoff between 12:00 and 2:40 Eastern), mid-afternoon games, (3:00 to 4:45 Eastern), and night games (6:00 to 9:00 pm Eastern).
Home field advantage appears to be strongest in early games, with the home team winning tossups at a .792 clip. Also, upsets happened most frequently then, as they occurred in 14.7% of mismatches. I tried to warn SEC newbies A&M; and Mizzou about the Jefferson Pilot games for a reason. In mid-afternoon games, the upset rate was pretty similar, though slightly down at 12.8%.
Then there are night games. In those late contests, there were only three upsets in 80 total mismatches for an upset rate of 3.75%. Upsets basically don't happen in SEC games after dark. The three upsets were Vandy over Ole Miss in 2008, Kentucky over South Carolina in 2010, and Auburn over Florida in 2011. The last of the three isn't that titanic of an upset, and only the middle one, a classic let down game after the Gamecocks' upset of Alabama, involved a real conference contender.
So yes, go ahead and rejoice, LSU fans. You're almost certainly going to have an F/+ rating that is more than 10 percentage points better than Auburn's at the end of the year. That makes the game in two weeks a mismatch, and upsets just don't really happen in the SEC at night.