After weeks of being favored and not delivering, BYU hits the blue turf at Boise State looking to turn its season around and spring a mild upset.
Let's look at how BYU is expected to fare against Boise State 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, Boise State was favored by 6. The line has moved just slightly to Boise State being favored by 7. The over/under opened at 56.5 and is now up to 59.
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 Boise State winning 33-26.
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 that have a relatively low level of common opponents.
F/+ ratings place BYU at #34 (no change) and Boise State at #45.
For comparison, current F/+ for opponents BYU has already played:
UConn - 104 (-2)
Texas - 63 (+3)
Houston - 77 (+7)
Virginia - 30 (-7)
Utah State - 53 (+8)
UCF - 51 (+9)
Nevada - 52 (+11)
F/+ picks were changed three weeks ago to adjust more for pace of play, resulting in some higher score predictions in an attempt to more accurately peg the margin of victory. What's important in the F/+ picks are the MOV and the win probability.
F/+ has BYU favored by 6 with a BYU win probability of 63%.
BYU is ranked #44 (-6 from last week) with a rating of 75.10
Boise State is ranked #43 with a rating of 75.41
Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as being worth 3.23 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 3.23 in favor of Boise, Sagarin favors Boise State by 3 points (3.31).
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 #56 (-15) with a rating of 99.194
Boise State is ranked #52 with a rating of 100.336
The difference is 1.142 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 Boise State by 4 (4.142).
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Donchess predicts a Boise State win 31-25 and gives Boise a win probability of 65%.
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.
The Accurating is not yet updated. I should probably find a different predictor to use, since this one seems to be updated every other week.
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 102 computer ratings across the internet.
In that composite, BYU ranks #51 (-7) and Boise State ranks #35.
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For the first time all season (the Texas game was nearly a pick 'em), BYU is a clear underdog, though Sagarin and Billingsley think the two teams are more evenly matched than others. Maybe the underdog role is enough to get back into the win column.