Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ranking ACC Stadiums

Camp is just about three weeks away for most teams so we have some time to squeeze in a few more lists to get you through the Summer.

When teams say a stadium is "tough to win in", the team they are playing usually has a good amount to do with the validity of that statement. Today, I am going to rank the toughest stadiums in the ACC using overall home records over the last eight seasons.

12. Duke - Wallace Wade Stadium
2000-2008 Home Record: 10-44 (.185)
FBS Rank: 120
Games as Underdog: 43

Some say Duke is tough to win at because there is a small crowd and very little energy in the stadium, but opponents still come out with a victory over 80% of the time. Duke ranks dead last in FBS in home winning percentage since 2000. A bright spot was Duke 43% home winning percentage in 2008 under first year coach David Cutcliffe.

11. North Carolina - Kenan Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 28-28 (.500)
FBS Rank: 94
Games as Underdog: 26

The Tar Heels may have the prettiest setting in the ACC, but only manage to win half of the time lately. UNC was an underdog just under half of the time too so the oddsmakers have them pegged pretty well. Butch Davis went 5-2 at home in his second season last year so things are looking up.

10. Wake Forest - BB & T Field
00-08 Home Record: 30-26 (.536)
FBS Rank: 85
Games as Underdog: 21

The Demon Deacons have done some damage in the ACC the past few years but are below average for the conference in Winston Salem. Wake has lost five more times than they were underdogs, but did post a 5-2 record last year.

9. NC State - Carter-Finley Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 36-24 (.600)
FBS Rank: 72
Games as Underdog: 20

The Wolfpack were a menace under Chuck Amato especially when Philip Rivers was around. Now Tom O'Brien is trying to rebuild a program who has made major renovations to their stadium over the last few years. The Wolfpack need to improve on a 4-3 record last year to move up.

8. Georgia Tech - Bobby Dodd Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 39-18 (.684)
FBS Rank: 43
Games as Underdog: 13

The Yellow Jackets play in FBS' oldest stadium and it has been pretty good to them over the years. This is also one of the few BCS stadiums in a major urban area. One area of concern is the 18 home losses vs 13 times as an underdog. Paul Johnson went 6-1 at home in year one.

7. Clemson - Memorial Stadium aka "Death Valley"
00-08 Home Record: 44-16 (.733)
FBS Rank: 37
Games as Underdog: 13

Clemson's Death Valley may be the loudest stadium in the ACC. Players rub Howard's Rock and run down the hill for their entrance. Despite some up and down seasons as of late, the Tigers have won roughly three out of every four home games. Clemson was a respectable 5-2 last season.

6. Virginia - Scott Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 42-15 (.737)
FBS Rank: 36
Games as Underdog: 23

The first surprise on the list to many is in Charlottesville. The most remarkable stat about UVA is their 23 games as an underdog with just 15 losses; this difference is tops in the nation. However, the Cavs went just 4-3 in 2008 at home.

5. Florida State - Doak Campbell Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 42-14 (.750)
FBS Rank: 29
Games as Underdog: 4

Once impossible to win at, Doak Campbell has slipped in stature along with the Seminoles. Attesting to the former dominance is evidenced by FSU being an underdog just four times at home in the last eight seasons. But FSU has lost 14 times and that 10 game difference is second nationally.

4. Maryland - Byrd Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 43-14 (.754)
FBS Rank: 27
Games as Underdog: 18

This was the biggest surprise to me, but Maryland's record at home is very, very good. Even in an average year like 2008, the Terps still went 6-1 in College Park. Upon Ralph Friedgen's arrival, Maryland experienced a few undefeated seasons at home.

3. Boston College - Alumni Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 45-12 (.789)
FBS Rank: 19
Games as Underdog: 9

BC, a relative newcomer to the ACC, shouldn't be too much of a surprise here as they have played in the last two ACC Championship Games. The Eagles went 5-2 in Chesnut Hill last season.

2. Miami - Land Shark Stadium/Orange Bowl
00-08 Home Record: 46-11 (.807)
FBS Rank: 13
Games as Underdog: 3

The Hurricanes recently moved out of their long time home into the Miami Dolphins facility. In the 80s and early 90s Miami was impossible to beat at home winning 58 straight at one point. Times are not as good as they used to be and Miami went just 4-2 last season. But their success early in the decade vaults them near the top.

1. Virginia Tech - Lane Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 52-9 (.852)
FBS Rank: 8
Games as Underdog: 3

No surprise here with the Metallica entrance spelling doom for most visitors. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lane Stadium was very kind to the Hokies in 2008 as they went undefeated at home.
General thoughts on the rankings-
On average, the ACC went 38-19 (.664) at home over the past eight seasons and was underdogs twice per year. I thought about different ways of ranking the stadiums - just use 2008 record, use the current coaches home record, use ATS data, etc. Using just last season is too small a data point. ATS data is good, but punishes really good teams who are often favored. The current coaches record I think could be a suitable replacement for my data but coaches have varying tenures so you are not pulling the same number of data points for each.

I found overall record was the best indicator because even if a stadium is tough to win in, its overall record is the biggest determinant. I have heard coaches and players say Duke is tough to play because of the small crowd and lack of energy, but the record does not back this up. Certain stadiums like Clemson's may be louder, but BC's much smaller home field has been tougher to win at than the Tigers.

Obviously with certain teams on the upswing and others on the downswing, this ranking is by no means a reflection of what teams' home records will be this year.

What are your thoughts on what are the toughest stadiums in the ACC?


  1. Always like it when the Hokies come out on top! And I agree Lane would have to be the most intimidating stadium to play in as a visiting team.

  2. LOL! You may want to change the title of your entry.

    You are in no way ranking the stadiums that are "toughest to win". You are simply ranking the recent home performance/records of the ACC teams. There is a huge difference.

    Why would a significantly talented team who comprises a strong home record have a "tougher environment" than a much less talented team who may comprise a worse record but a record that is disproportionately better than their talent level?

    I don't think that there are many functioning humans who would tell you that Byrd Stadium in Maryland or Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill are "tougher" places to win than Doak Campbell, Death Valley or even Carter-Finley.

  3. Ratdog911:29 AM

    When confused about the difference between causation and correlation, remember that beating a drum during a solar eclipse causes the sun to return.

  4. I thought Maryland's and BC's home record were surprising too, but they are what they are.

    But if you are not going to use record, what do you use to determine how hard it is to get a road victory? Do you use decibel levels for stadiums? Do you use attendance figures?

    If you want to take a look at home teams who have been upset the most at home then FSU is near the bottom of the list having lost 10 more times than they were underdogs; On the other side, Virginia has lost 8 less times then they were home dogs. By that logic, FSU is not as tough as people think and UVA is tougher.

    If you don't use record, how can you objectively determine who has the bigger home field advantage between FSU and Clemson? Both have large crowds that make a lot of noise. What about comparing BC to Georgia Tech? Similar size stadiums, similar attendance numbers.

    Maryland went 6-1 at home in 2008 while having a medicore season so it wasn't because their team was that dominant. If Maryland is not that tough then why has NC State lost four of the last five in College Park?

  5. So then, by your logic, no stadium was tougher than Utah's last year? You really want to stand by this logic?

    By all the questions you ask in your follow up comment, it appears that are admitting you do not know how to construct the rankings. If you don't know how to do it, perhaps yous shouldn't.

    You'd be better off admitting your mistake. That the above is simply a ranking of home winning percentage, period. Otherwise, you are on the path to losing a great amount of credibility.

    Ridiculous entry

  6. I have to agree with the original post.

    What else do you use but won/loss record? 8 years is large enough sample size as well.

    To the posters that disagree, I have to ask, how would you rank the toughest places to playe in the ACC?

    After attending nearly home game for a decade at Death Valley in Clemson, I can tell you loud/big crowds don't intimidate nearly the way they used to. The Tigers have lost quite a few home games, with 82,000 rabid Tigers cheering at the top of their lungs.

  7. "So then, by your logic, no stadium was tougher than Utah's last year?"

    No. Please reread the last few paragraphs. Using one year is too small of a data set.

  8. Ok, I'll play your game...

    For those same 8 years (2000-2008), Alabama is 38-20 (.665) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. That is counting their vacated wins as wins.

    Utah, at 40-13 (.750) is therefore a tougher place to play than Tuscaloosa? And that is including a 1-5 home record in 2001.

    Bobby Dodd Stadium is tougher? Virigia's Scott Stadium is tougher? Maryland's Byrd Stadium is tougher? Boston College's Alumni Stadium is tougher? Seriously? Dude, c'mon.. seriously?

    Stand by your argument and anyone who knows anything about college football will be laughing at you... Admit it, you logic is flawed.

  9. JayVee1:52 PM

    Worthless. I might as well be reading a Heather Dinich article.

  10. Thanks for the info on Utah's home record. If If I was ranking the MWC then Utah would likely be near or at the top (I don't know the other stats).

    I am only ranking the ACC against each other. I am not ranking any team outside the ACC against a team inside the ACC. Why? Because the schedules are drastically different between conferences.

    ACC teams have fairly similar schedules in terms of strength. The Divisions are very balanced in strength as evidenced by the head to head games. For non-conference, most ACC teams play 1 BCS team non-conf or a high mid major per year; 1 game is usually against FCS or low mid major; and 1 game is against a mid major type. Again, I am only ranking ACC teams against each other and no one else from another conference.

    I would be interested in reading what your methodology would be for ranking these home fields for this decade?

  11. "I would be interested in reading what your methodology would be for ranking these home fields for this decade?"

    It would certainly entail a more in depth analysis than simply comparing home records. I would expect such analysis from a first grader. A sixth grader would know better.

    Using a single criterion to make any subjective ranking is quite obtuse.

    Just curious, have you ever been to a game at Boston College? At Maryland?

    Perhaps you forgot what you are ranking... you are supposed to be ranking the STADIUMS, not teams. Get it?

    In many cases, the home team would win if they were playing at a neutral stadium, the visiting team's stadium, a sandlot, the parking lot, or Mars.

    Why not just make an entry titled "Carrots Kill in the ACC"? After all, every ACC player who has ever eaten a carrot is dead, or will die.

    But I give up... the shallowness of your depth of understanding and analysis is overwhelming..

    PS: You forgot to include the "Pine Tree Effect" in ranking Carolina. Perhaps you should bump them up a few places.

    Ratdog9 said it best:

    "When confused about the difference between causation and correlation, remember that beating a drum during a solar eclipse causes the sun to return."

  12. Now I know how the head chef felt...

  13. Haha... now that was funny. :) Thx

  14. This is one of the most laughable "anaylsis" I've ever seen. "Toughest place to play" does not always equate with "best home record" and vice versa. Wake Forest and Boston College are two great recent examples. They both have had some great success recently, yet anyone who has been to either stadium knows you could go to sleep during a game there. Great teams do not always make great fans, just as bad teams do not always make bad fans.

    You ask how to rank them? By its very nature this would be a subjective analysis. You have to go to the games, be in the environment, see the fans, feel it...a computer might as well have made these rankings. Everyone knows Death Valley is one of the toughest ACC stadiums to play in, even when the team is mediocre. By your methodology if Duke suddenly becomes good at home Wallace Wade will automatically become one of the tougher places to play!

  15. somehow I think you would disagree with a "subjective" analysis too...unless of course a certain school was rated highly.

  16. But at least it would be a fun discussion about which stadiums are the best and who has the best fans and which stadiums give teams the most problems. The title and point of this post is just's not really about the stadiums but about which ACC teams have the best performance at home, plain and simple. The ACC especially has had good to very good teams in recent years with awful fans and sleeper stadiums. BC, WF, and GT are great examples.

  17. I would take out 1-AA oponents, and maybe just go with teams from the conference, or other BCS/major programs. Having been to a couple of other Stadiums outside of Byrd, I would have to say Lane is nuts. Of course both times I went were Thursday night games, and that is all that needs to be said about that. I have been to several games at Carter Finley, and that has come along way. The place was rocking for Philip Rivers final game, but the sound that was leaving the stadium after T(urnover) A(nytime)'s fumble was much more quiet.

    I don't know how you quanify it. If I was doing a list I may just doit based on game day experience for fans. Each school is unique and has something that is really cool. As a Maryland fan we are trying to build some tradition there. The 90's pretty much took care of anything going on, and since Ralph has been back and we have had some big games, and more importantly wins, it is becoming more of a homefield advantage. Keep up the good work, god knows this time of year is tough!

  18. Nice piece. The best part about college football is the passion the fans have. Unfortunately, sometimes it blinds us.

    I think there were one too many "my school is not listed as high as I would like" and/or "there are schools I deem to be inferior above my school" posts. The ONLY metric to use is in-conference games. The guy who tried to make his point by comparing two different schools from different conferences is looney tunes.

    Nice blog, keep up the good work.


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