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October 18, 2012

Expectations Off A Bye

A year ago, Richard Samuel and his Bulldog teammates
grabbed a rare victory over the Gators, and an infrequent
cover in recent seasons when coming off a bye week.
Around this time in 2009, I posted on Georgia's performance over the last few decades when coming off an open week.  Three years later, I wanted to update and expand on the subject, examining if the Bulldogs have benefited over the last 40 years when having an extra week to practice and prepare.
Over the last 39 seasons since 1973 (and I'll explain later why that particular year), Georgia enters this Saturday with a winning percentage of 70 percent in 69 games coming off a bye.  In comparison, during the same time period, the Bulldogs have had similar success for all of its games with, again, a 70 percent winning percentage.
The breakdown of Georgia's off-a-bye and overall records by head coach:  
DOOLEY*:  78.5 off bye (20-5-1); 73.2 career (135-48-6)
GOFF:       46.4 off bye (6-7-1);   57.4 career (46-34-1)
DONNAN: 66.7 off bye (8-4);      67.8 career (40-19)
RICHT:     76.5 off bye (13-4);    74.0 career (111-39)
* Dooley's records begin in 1973, excluding his tenure from 1964 to 1972.
Besides maybe Coach Goff, Georgia's head coaches over the last four decades have each had more or less similar win-loss ratios whether coming off a bye week or otherwise.  However, comparing bye-week and overall records is kind of like apples and oranges.  Coach Donnan, for example, had the luxury of facing a few stinkers come off a bye.  While speaking of Goff, he faced Georgia Tech (and a few pretty good Jacket teams) annually off an open week, usually Auburn, Florida on a couple of occasions, and Alabama once.
I've mentioned it here plenty of times before, but there's no question in my mind that a good measurement of a football team in terms of straining its potential, and vice versa, is its record against the spread (ATS).  I realize betting lines are moved and set primarily based on the amount of money wagered on each side of a game.  Regardless, it's certainly by no accident that the best ATS teams in the SEC starting in 2008 to the present are Alabama (64.4%) and Florida (62.1%) teams that primarily have played to or above what was expected of them and then there's Georgia an underachiever, for the most part which has covered just 40 percent of its games (22 of 55) since the Alabama "Blackout" game of four years ago.
From 1973, or the first recognized season modern-day techniques were used to determine college football odds, through 2011, the following is each coach's off-a-bye and overall records in regards to ATS:
DOOLEY*:  38.5 off bye (10-16); 51.7 career (93-87-5)
GOFF:       50.0 off bye (7-7);     49.4 career (39-40)
DONNAN: 58.3 off bye (7-5);     51.7 career (30-28)
RICHT:     56.3 off bye (9-7-1);  50.0 career (71-71-4)
While each head coach's overall ATS record during their UGA career is right around 50 percent, the four ATS records coming off an open date are somewhat sporadic.  During Dooley's tenure, for example, the Bulldogs might have lost only five of 26 games off a bye, but the spread wasn't covered in 16 of those 26 contests.  On the contrary, if you are a betting man and began wagering on the Bulldogs off a bye beginning with the Donnan regime in 1996, you would have a rather respectable mark to date (and a little cash in your pocket).
Therefore, one may think a Richt team is possibly a good bet to cover the current 27½ point spread in Lexington (which, notably, is the largest line for the Bulldogs in their nearly 250 away and neutral-sited games beginning in 1973).
However, Richt's success against the number came during the first half of his era, covering seven of his first nine games following a bye.  Since midway through the 2005 season or, around the time many point to when this program started to have its "issues," so to speak – Georgia has been almost assuredly a losing bet after a bye.
Thus, even with an extra week to practice and prepare, the current trend would be to pass on the Bulldogs if you're a betting man.  Four touchdowns on the road, even against a dreadful Kentucky squad, are likely too many to cover for a recent edition of Richt's Dogs.


AmeliaDawg said...

UGA is at an advantage this year. We play what should be an easy game against Kentucky where we can watch what the FL is made of with USC before we make the trip to Jax. Hopefully J. Jones will be well rested and CMR and company get UGA ready. (Unlike USC). I'm almost over the USC loss but another loss to FL...I may just jump into the St. Johns river.

Patrick Garbin said...

With another setback to the detested Gators, I may be jumping right behind you... Thanks for reading and your comment.