Each week, the BYU Cougars have an opportunity to remain in the national discussion and win games on ESPN. Here is a look at how BYU is expected to fare against the Utah State Aggies 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 14.5 points. With Chuckie Keeton's status uncertain, that skyrocketed to 21 for a time, then settled at 20. Now that Keeton is officially out, the line has ticked slightly up again to BYU being favored by 21 points. The over/under opened at 51.5, was up to 52.5 on some books, and is now down to 51.
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 36-15.
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 simple 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.
F/+ ratings place BYU at #27 (down from 24 prior to the Virginia game) and Utah State at #83.
For comparison, current F/+ for opponents BYU has already played:
UConn - 108
Texas - 54
Houston - 75
Virginia - 45
Bill C. tweaked his F/+ picks this week to include pace of play at a different degree than he has used this season. He points out his goal is to be accurate on the margin of victory, not necessarily on the final score, so pace of play considerations are giving much higher score predictions, but hopefully more accurate margins.
With that said, F/+ picks give BYU an additional touchdown over the Vegas line, with BYU favored by 27.5 and winning 55-28, with a win probability of 86%.
BYU is ranked #23 (up from 25) with a rating of 81.94
Utah State is ranked #72 with a rating of 69.08
Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as being worth 3.47 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 3.47 in favor of BYU, Sagarin favors BYU by 16 points (16.33).
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 #21 with a rating of 106.943
Utah State is ranked #69 with a rating of 93.777
The difference is 13.166. Billingsley does not provide a home-field advantage factor, but I'll apply the standard 3 points and say Billingsley also favors BYU by 16 (16.166).
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Donchess predicts a BYU win 33-20 with a win probability of 91%. (This is almost identical to his BYU-Virginia prediction.)
Ashby gives a point spread value and an over/under value to each team, and awards 3 points to the home team for home-field advantage. This week, the Accurating is current to all games played.
BYU is ranked #9 with a spread value of 66, over/under value of 28
Utah State is ranked #78 with a spread value of 47, over/under value of 24
His rating favors BYU by 22 after accounting for home-field advantage. With the combined over/under values at 52, the combination would predict a BYU win by the score of 37-15.
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 94 computer ratings across the internet.
In that composite, BYU ranks #14 (staying consistent there) and Utah State ranks #85.
BYU is again expected to win comfortably. From these experts, that ranges anywhere from two to four touchdowns.