Beating up on non-conference cupcakes at home does not prepare teams for hosting nationally-ranked competition later in the season.

Home-field winning percentage is still quite high at 77 percent in the SEC at the midway point, but when two teams in the Top 25 have met, where the game’s played has meant very little.

Did Texas A&M crash the party for everyone when the Aggies eviscerated South Carolina’s nation-leading home win streak on opening night?


Road teams have executed well in big games across college football this fall, crippling several programs’ shot at conference championships. No-huddle, quick-strike offenses have nullified crowd noise, making once-challenging venues much less intimidating.

SEC teams are 27-24-1 against the spread at home in 2014, pointing to the fact that home teams more or less are playing to expectations.

According to Brian Edwards, a well-known professional handicapper, playing at home isn’t worth as much to Vegas oddsmakers as you’d think.

“(Home-field) is typically worth three points but it can be more for certain venues where a team has been particularly tough at home for a stretch of several years,” Edwards said. “Also, if a team travels across country, especially on a short week (BYU at UCF last week), that can result in adding another point (or more) to the home-field advantage. Weather can be another variable … like a team from up North playing at Miami at noon eastern in September or early-mid October.”

Excluding Ole Miss and Mississippi State, the only remaining SEC unbeatens who hold a sparkling 3-0 record at home against Top 10 competition, nationally-ranked teams and those just outside the Top 25 have padded their early-season records as double-digit home favorites, but have struggled against quality teams.

Of the current 15 one-loss teams in the AP Top 25, six lost at home:

  • Oregon (lost to Arizona)
  • Arizona (USC)
  • Ohio State (Va. Tech)
  • Kansas State (Auburn)
  • Arizona State (UCLA)
  • Utah (Washington St.)

Furthermore, previous Top 10s UCLA, South Carolina, Stanford, LSU and USC have all lost games as home favorites.

Though Texas A&M’s season-opening win at Williams-Brice Stadium has lost some of its luster as the season’s progressed, it was a performance that forced voters to respect the Aggies at the time heading into September.

Unbeaten and ranked No. 6 a few weeks later with wins over Lamar, Rice, SMU and Arkansas, Kevin Sumlin’s team was humbled at Mississippi State before being throttled — in front of a Kyle Field record of 110,000 — by Ole Miss.

It wasn’t the type of home showing Texas A&M expected despite an atmosphere that rivals any venue in college football.

In the SEC, hosting still means something, but that’s changing against quality competition.

During the 2013 season, SEC teams held a commanding 73.7 home winning percentage (73-26) and that number has risen to to 77 percent through half of this season (41-12) — cupcakes included.

Team 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 Total
LSU 7-0 7-1 6-0 7-0 6-1 33-2 (94.3%)
Alabama 7-0 6-1 6-1 6-1 7-0 32-3 (91.4%)
S. Carolina 7-0 7-0 6-1 6-1 6-1 32-3 (91.4%)
Georgia 5-1 7-0 5-1 5-1 5-2 27-5 (84.4%)
Auburn 8-0 3-4 6-1 8-0 6-2 30-7 (81.1%)
Florida 3-3 7-0 5-2 4-3 7-0 26-8 (76.5%)
Arkansas 3-4 3-5 7-0 6-1 6-1 25-11 (69.4%)
Tennessee 4-3 4-3 5-3 4-3 6-2 23-14 (62.2%)
Miss State 5-2 6-1 3-3 5-2 2-5 21-13 (61.8%)
Ole Miss 5-2 4-3 1-6 3-4 6-1 19-16 (54.3%)
Vanderbilt 5-2 4-2 5-2 1-6 1-5 16-17 (48.5%)
Kentucky 2-6 2-5 4-3 5-2 3-4 16-20 (44.4%)
*Missouri 6-1 3-4 *5-1 *6-0 *3-3 23-9 (71.9%)
*Texas A&M 6-2 4-2 *4-3 *6-1 *5-2 25-10 (71.4%)

* Reflect Big 12 records

But closer inspection however reveals a surprising trend: SEC teams are just 6-6 at home this season against nationally-ranked conference opponents, only a few percentage points higher than last season’s 15-17 mark.

College football’s always been about exploiting mismatches within a talent gap and that’s being proven again this season.

Will second-ranked Florida State win the battle of unbeatens against No. 5 Notre Dame Saturday night in Tallahassee? It won’t be because the game’s being played at Doak Campbell Stadium, that’s for certain.