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BYU vs. UNLV: Odds, betting lines and computer predictions

Using data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors to get a hopefully-accurate preview for BYU's blackout game against UNLV.

Ethan Miller

BYU's game against UNLV is a bridge to a three-game winning streak headed to the season finale against Cal. Let's look at how BYU is expected to fare against the Rebels 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 22. The line has increased and BYU is favored by 26. The over/under opened at 63 and is now down to 62.

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 44-18.

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. 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.

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 #39 (+2) and UNLV at #122.

For comparison, current F/+ for opponents BYU has already played:
UConn - 98 (+3)
Texas - 53 (+14)
Houston - 75 (+3)
Virginia - 40 (-4)
Utah State - 48 (+10)
UCF - 60 (-3)
Nevada - 59 (-2)
Boise State - 33 (-2)
Middle Tennessee - 87 (+4)

F/+ picks were changed a month 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/+ picks turns in a wild prediction, having BYU favored by 57 with a BYU win probability of 98.5%.

SAGARIN

BYU is ranked #41 (+9) with a rating of 75.46
UNLV is ranked #173 with a rating of 48.26

Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as being worth 3.15 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 3.15 in favor of BYU, Sagarin favors BYU by 30 points (30.35).

BILLINGSLEY

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 #51 (+9) with a rating of 100.224
UNLV is ranked #112 with a rating of 85.361

The difference is 14.863 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 18 (17.863).

DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING

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

Donchess predicts a BYU win 42-19 and gives BYU a win probability of 96%.

ASHBY'S ACCURATING

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 #44 with a spread value of 58, over-under value of 30
UNLV is ranked #120 with a spread value of 32, over-under value of 31

On a neutral field, BYU is favored by 26. Applying the standard 3 points for home field advantage, BYU is favored by 29winning by the score of 45-16.

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 122 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, BYU ranks #48 (+11) and UNLV ranks #120.

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BYU has been favored in a lot of games this season, but this is far and away expected to be the biggest landslide (until next week against Savannah State, which will likely be off the board for most books and computers).