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BYU vs. Arizona: 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 against Arizona.

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NCAA Football: Gildan New Mexico Bowl-Arizona vs New Mexico Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The first coaching search in 11 years. Spring ball. Fall camp. Big 12 drama.

Right now, that’s all behind us. Well, the Big 12 isn’t — but there is actual, real football to play and watch and cheer for.

Let's take a look at odds and predictions as BYU prepares to play Arizona in Glendale.

(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 fun!)


Arizona is favored by 1.5 points at most Vegas sportsbooks after opening as a 3-point favorite. The over/under sits at 60.5 (it opened at 63).

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 Arizona winning 31-30.


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 predictions on his SB Nation site Football Study Hall.

Unfortunately for the season opener, F/+ ratings are not posted until after Week 1.

Despite the lack of public F/+ and S&P+ ratings, Bill has posted predictions using both formulas on Football Study Hall.

His formulas largely agree. In his S&P/+ prediction, he has BYU winning 35-27 with a 68% win probability. His F/+ says BYU by 9, and he ultimately chooses BYU to fulfill those predictions and win.


BYU is ranked #49 with a rating of 74.39

Arizona is ranked #45 with a rating of 75.36

Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.61 points, but this game is technically a neutral site even though BYU fans are turning it into a home game.

So subtracting the difference between the ratings, Sagarin has Arizona favored by 1 (0.97).


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 #47 with a rating of 90.848

Arizona is ranked #54 with a rating of 88.657

Billingsley has BYU favored by 2 (2.191).


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

Donchess predicts a BYU win 30-28 and gives the Cougars a win probability of 53%.


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.

Ashby’s rating is not available for Week 1.


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 what is currently 58 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, BYU ranks #34 and Arizona ranks #56.

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Experts and formulas coincide with what I think a lot of us are feeling: Tons of questions, nobody knows what to expect except that the game may be close. (Except Bill Connelly’s numbers. They seem to like BYU.)

What are your predictions?