Debunking the Bye Week Myth

Submitted by Soulfire21 on October 10th, 2011 at 11:53 AM

It seems reasonable to bring this up every year, particularly when our next opponent is coming off of a bye week.

Logic Says:
Teams that get a week of rest and an entire extra week to prepare have an advantage over their opponent because their opponent didn't get the extra rest or time to prepare.

Reality Says:
Bye weeks seem to hurt more than they help.  Since 2002 (to 2010*), teams of the six BCS conferences have an overall win pct of 0.480 when coming off of a bye week.  The Big Ten teams in particular struggle when coming off of a bye.  From 2002-2010* Big Ten teams are a combined 17-32 when coming off of a bye.  This is good for a 0.35 win pct.

Ohio State went 56-10 in Big Ten play from 2002-2010* but was 1-3 when facing a conference opponent after a bye.  This includes their 2004 loss to Northwestern, their only loss to the Wildcats since 1971

Penn State and Iowa are also 1-3 when coming off of bye weeks and playing conference opponents

37 of the 65 major-conference teams have a losing post-bye week record.

Under Mark Dantonio, MSU has a 1-1 record coming off of a bye week

In 2008, they lost to PSU 14-49
In 2010, they beat Purdue 35-31

[*This information was summarized from this article, read the full version from the Wall Street Journal; info current through Oct. 14, 2010]




October 10th, 2011 at 2:40 PM ^

It all depends on the quality of the coach. In the NFL for example Bill Belichek and Andy Reid are considered great coaches. They are both undefeated off byes (13-0,11-0). Wade Phillips, Brad Childress, and Norv Turner are bad coaches and are under .500 off byes. 

The same is true for college. Nick Saban, Bob Stoops, and Lloyd Carr were great off byes. It is tougher too see in college because of the talent disparity though.


October 10th, 2011 at 2:50 PM ^

I think you'd need to study where the bye weeks come in the season. A bye in the first month is used quite differently than an extra week to prepare before a big game later in the season.

Also, I've always thought a lot depends on what happens to the non-bye team the week before. In this case, the NU game seems about perfect as a tune-up. An away game, but not too far away. Weaknesses exposed, but not too much so. I especially like that Gardner got a little bit of meaningful, non-gimmicky work. MSU has an extra week of film to look at, but M has an extra week of game experience. 


October 10th, 2011 at 3:30 PM ^

And the game M played afterwards. It was terrible and left all of us wondering what the H E double hockey's sticks did they do with the extra week of prep?


October 10th, 2011 at 4:41 PM ^

Interesting stats.  I always thought that the bye week break was overrated - you are talking about college kids, so they really shouldn't be that tired/rusty after a single week off or on.  I can see the advtange of getting some kids healthy, which definitely is helped by the bye, but probably not enough to alter outcomes consistently.  And as BrickTop pointed out, scheduling after the bye can play a large role - if you run into a good team after a bye, it might not matter if you had seen them off a game or not.