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BYU vs. McNeese State: Odds, betting lines and computer predictions

Data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors might give us an accurate preview for BYU’s game against McNeese State.

BYU v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We believed. Then we doubted. Now, BYU is ... ranked.

The #25 Cougars (2-1) return home to take on #9 (FCS) McNeese State (3-0).

The game kicks at 4 p.m. MT Saturday, Sept. 22, on BYUtv and ESPN3.

Let’s take a look at what oddsmakers and computer predictions have to say about the matchup.

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

LINES AND ODDS

BYU is favored by 20.5 points according to 5dimes. Many other books don’t typically post lines for FBS vs. FCS games. The over/under is 39.5.

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.

Combining the line and the over/under, the betting combo has BYU winning about 30-10.

PREDICTIVE RANKINGS

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.

CONNELLY’S S&P+

Bill Connelly’s S&P+ is 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 SB Nation.

Connelly’s S&P+ has BYU ranked #41 (+37). FCS teams are not included.

Bill’s prediction using his S&P+ as posted on SB Nation has BYU winning 27-0.

SAGARIN

BYU is ranked #61 (+17) with a rating of 71.71

McNeese State is ranked #160 with a rating of 49.75

Sagarin’s formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.67 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding home-field points, Sagarin has BYU by 25 (24.63).

BILLINGSLEY

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 #44 (+20) with a rating of 93.986

FCS teams are not rated. Using the lowest-rated FBS team in place of McNeese, which is UTEP (who lost to a ranked FCS team), Billingsley has BYU by 20.

DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING

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

As of late Thursday, Week 5 matchups had not been posted.

SPORTS-REFERENCE

Sports-Reference doesn’t have a predictive component. But S-R is a fantastic library of data and I want to give them some love.

Sports-Reference uses something it calls a Simple Ratings System (SRS). It describes SRS as “a rating that takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule.” The rating is expressed in points above/below average, with zero being average.

While SRS only includes FBS teams, BYU is up 61 spots to #64 with a rating of 21.37.

COMPOSITE RATING

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 66 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, BYU ranks #54 (+23). McNeese is #17 in the FCS version of the composite rating.

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How are you feeling about the data, Cougar fans?