For one of my courses at graduate school here at the University of Wyoming, I had to analyze a data set and make some statistical conclusions about it. The point of the paper was to demonstrate competency with the statistical computer programs we have and to execute the correct test given the data… and to demonstrate those ideals, I decided to do some statistical crunching of home-field advantage in Wyoming high school football.
In short, my statistical analyses revealed that home-field advantage exists in Wyoming — and it’s huge in playoff games.
I’m not going to bog you down with the statistical number-crunching that I went through to do this (but if you’re interested, I can share some of my t scores, degrees of freedom, standard deviations, etc.). In a nutshell, here’s some of the fun stuff I discussed in my paper:
Home team record, 1930-2010: 10,965 victories, 8,482 losses, 447 ties, .562 winning percentage
Home team record, regular season, 1930-2010: 10,354-8,243-444, .555 winning percentage
Home team record, playoffs, 1931-2010: 611-239-3, .718 winning percentage (yes, there have been some ties in the playoffs… they were broken in various ways, but the points were not added to the official final score)
So while home teams win about 55 or 56 percent of the time, home teams in the playoffs win almost 72 percent of the time. Makes sense, as the better teams in the regular season get higher seeds and home games in the playoffs. Moving on…
Average score for home teams, all games, 1930-2010: 19.36 points
Average score for road teams, all games, 1930-2010: 16.05 points
Average difference in score between home teams and road teams, all games, 1930-2010: 3.31 points per game
Average difference in score between home teams and road teams, regular-season games, 1930-2010: 2.91 points per game
Average difference in score between home teams and road teams, playoff games, 1931-2010: 12.16 points per game
So there’s about a three-point difference between home teams and road teams for all games (that’s about a three-point bump the home team gets every game, just for playing at home). In the playoffs, that difference is more than 12 points per game. Probably skewed by an inordinate number of first-round playoff blowouts. Still, interesting…
This count doesn’t include games where the final score or location couldn’t be determined. The final total of counted games was little more than 19,000.
My final conclusion was that, without home-field advantage, you would expect the home team to win 50 percent of the time. The odd six percent can be explained in part by the location of the game. This affects about two games a week, or about 18 games a season, meaning that roughly every three years, every school will win at least one game — and lose at least one game — purely because of where the game was played.
This is the stripped-down, simplified version of my analysis. My paper was a lot more nerdy than this. Even so, I think even the casual fan will get a kick out of these numbers. So here they are. 🙂