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BYU vs. Nebraska: Odds, betting lines and computer predictions

Using data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors to get a hopefully-accurate preview for BYU's season opener in Lincoln.

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

No amount of words written or spoken is enough to explain how excited we all are about the return of college football and our BYU Cougars.

The Band of Brothers travels to Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first game of the 2015 season.

Let's look at how BYU is expected to fair at Nebraska.

(This is, of course, for entertainment purposes only. While we don't encourage gambling, referencing predictions from the people who make money on predictions can be interesting.)


When sports books opened lines on the game, Nebraska was favored by 7.5. The line has moved just slightly and Nebraska is favored by 7. The over/under opened at 65.5 and is now down to 60.5.

Vegas lines and odds aren't necessarily meant to predict, but to entice betting. However, combining the line and the over/under usually ends up close to some computer models. At the very least, it's fun.

Combining the line and the over/under, the Vegas combo has Nebraska winning 34-27.


Some computer rankings are designed to provide a built-in predictive element by comparing the ratings of two teams.

Some of the best ratings out there come from Football Outsiders. The most famous is Jeff Sagarin's for USA Today, previously used in the BCS computer rankings, but I've gathered a couple others from around the web as well.


F/+ is a combination of Bill Connelly's S&P+ and Brian Fremeau's FEI ratings. The ratings are usually pretty solid in factoring all the many variables involved in ranking college football teams that have a relatively low level of common opponents.

Football Outsiders site only lists the ratings in order, but Connelly posts F/+ predictions on his SB Nation site Football Study Hall.

I've waited to see both the F/+ ratings and predictions on the sites, but sometimes crunching those numbers takes time and the first F/+ ratings for 2015 have yet to be posted.

Connelly's part of the F/+ (the combo with Brian Fremeau's FEI) is the S&P+. Connelly has posted his week one S&P+ ratings. Here's how that looks:

Nebraska ranks at #32 (Offense: 30, Defense: 41)
BYU ranks #49 (Offense: 42, Defense: 59)


BYU is ranked #49 with a rating of 74.45
Nebraska is ranked #28 with a rating of 81.09

Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as being worth 2.65 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 2.65 in favor of Nebraska, Sagarin favors Nebraska by 9 points (9.29).


Billingsley's ranking was also previously used by the BCS. With the BCS restriction to remove margin of victory no longer a consideration, Billingsley has created a version of his formula that accounts for MOV.

BYU is ranked #49 with a rating of 97.232
Nebraska is ranked #20 with a rating of 103.400

The difference is 6.168 on a neutral field. Billingsley does not provide a home-field advantage factor, but I'll apply the standard 3 points and say Billingsley favors Nebraska by 9 (9.168).


Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.

Donchess predicts a Nebraska win 34-25 and gives Nebraska a win probability of 76%.


Ashby's Accurating provides a point spread value for each team, which is subtracted from each other after adding 3 points to the home team. Accurating also provides an over/under value for each team, which are added together for the game's over/under.

We'll check in on Ashby's Accurating later in the season, it appears he does not compile a pre-season list.


There are a lot of computer ratings that aren't packaged with a predictive ability. There are also a ton of computer ratings, period. Kenneth Massey, whose ratings were also part of the old BCS computer formula, hosts on his site a composite ranking of 44 computer ratings across the internet. That number of rankings compiled into this composite can balloon over 100 as the season progresses.

In that composite, BYU ranks #43 and Nebraska ranks #29.

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Nebraska is favored across the board. Vegas and bettors feel it will be slightly closer than computer predictions, but all said, BYU is looking to strike an upset to open its season.