With the ups and downs of last week's eventual overtime loss to Central Florida, I'm sure most of you are totally on board with the "a win is a win" mindset. It's time BYU gets back in the W column.
Let's look at how BYU is expected to fare against Nevada from sportsbooks and predictors.
(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.)
LINES AND ODDS
When sports books opened lines on the game, BYU was favored by 11.5 and overall, the line has moved just slightly when considering the average from several sportsbooks to BYU being favored by 11. The over/under opened at 53.5 and is now up to 57.
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 BYU winning 34-23.
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. It's notable that most of these are based on games played and have no way to compensate for injuries or suspensions, they simply calculate success rates and points per play, etc, on actual game play.
FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS F/+
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.
Football Outsiders site only lists the ratings in order, but Connelly posts F/+ predictions on his SB Nation site Football Study Hall.
F/+ ratings place BYU at #34 (up from 46) and Nevada at #63.
For comparison, current F/+ for opponents BYU has already played:
UConn - 102 (+4)
Texas - 66 (-5)
Houston - 84 (+3)
Virginia - 23 (+17)
Utah State - 61 (+8)
UCF - 60 (+4)
F/+ picks were changed two weeks ago to adjust more for pace of play, resulting in some higher score predictions done to try and more accurately peg the margin of victory. What's important in the F/+ picks are the MOV and the win probability.
F/+ picks predicts a BYU win 55-28 (!), far and away the biggest MOV prediction for this game. Four touchdowns? Man, it would be something to see BYU put up 55 points right now.
BYU's win probability is pegged at 85% and Connelly ultimately does pick BYU to win. F/+ picks are 88-15 this season in predictions carrying a win probability % between 80-90.
BYU is ranked #38 (down from 32) with a rating of 77.02
Nevada is ranked #74 with a rating of 68.02
Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as being worth 3.29 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 3.29 in favor of BYU, Sagarin favors BYU by 12 points (12.29).
Billingsley's ranking was also previously used by the BCS. With the BCS restriction to remove margin of victory out of consideration, Billingsley has created a version of his formula that accounts for MOV.
BYU is ranked #41 (-3) with a rating of 101.792
Nevada is ranked #64 with a rating of 95.705
The difference is 6.087 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 BYU by 9 (9.087).
DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Donchess predicts a BYU win 35-21 and, similar to F/+ picks, gives BYU a win probability of 85%.
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.
BYU is ranked #31 with a point spread value of 60
Nevada is ranked #60 with a point spread value of 52
The over/under combination totals 57. Accurating exactly mirrors where Vegas bettors nudged lines with BYU favored by 11 and winning 34-23.
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 108 computer ratings across the internet.
In that composite, BYU ranks #44 (down from 32) and Nevada ranks #69.
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BYU is expected to win in a mostly-comfortable two-score fashion at home (with Connelly's F/+ predicting BYU in a blowout). Will the defense step up? Can the offense be consistent when it is most needed?