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Miami Beach Bowl, BYU vs. Memphis: Odds, betting lines, and computer predictions

Using data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors to get a hopefully-accurate preview for BYU's postseason bout against the Memphis Tigers.

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Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

BYU answered the bell in a battle against Cal, and now closes out the 2014 season with a bowl matchup against co-champs of the AAC, Memphis. Let's look at how BYU is expected to fare against the Tigers 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.)


When sports books opened lines on the game, BYU was favored by 1.5 points. Money has come in for the Tigers and Memphis is now favored by 1. The over/under has moved to 57.5.

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. At the very least, it's fun.

Combining the line and the over/under, the Vegas combo has Memphis winning 29-28.


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.


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 #42 and Memphis at #40.

For comparison, season-end F/+ for BYU's opponents:
UConn - 113
Texas - 57
Houston - 79
Virginia - 37
Utah State - 59
UCF - 52
Nevada - 64
Boise State - 25
Middle Tennessee - 84
UNLV - 120
Cal - 61

F/+ picks were changed midseason 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 prediction of Memphis by 2 (1.6 by the formula), and giving Memphis a win probability of 57.7%.


BYU is ranked #50 with a rating of 73.22
Memphis is ranked #42 with a rating of 75.34

Of note, Sagarin's formula ended the season valuing home field advantage as being worth only 2.65 points. For BYU's only neutral site game this season, we won't need to use that value, so comparing the difference in the two ratings, Sagarin favors Memphis by 2 points (2.12). This was the exact difference Sagarin had between BYU and Cal as well (after factoring in home field advantage).


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 #45 with a rating of 104.264
Memphis is ranked #50 with a rating of 102.597

The difference is 1.667 on a neutral field, so I'll say Billingsley favors BYU by 2.


What-If Sports has made a full listing of bowl simulations available, and officially predicts a Memphis win, 23-20.

The simulated box score has BYU out-gaining Memphis, racking up 440 yards and only scoring 20 points with it, while the Tigers gain 386 yards. Visit the main page (linked in the title) and run as many simulations as you like.


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

Donchess predicts a BYU win 26-24 and gives BYU a win probability of 53%.


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
Cal is ranked #38 with a spread value of 56, over-under value of 26

On a neutral field, BYU is favored by 2winning by the score of 24-22.


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 124 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, BYU ranks #44 and Memphis ranks #37.

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This is two games in a row of "who knows?" for BYU. Every indication is that we will get to watch two very evenly matched teams square off at Marlins Park.