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

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

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Cougars are staying in the national discussion and have an opportunity to make a statement with a win over an improved ACC team on ESPN. Let's look at how BYU is expected to fare against the Virginia Cavaliers.

(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 13.5 points. That grew to 15 for a short time and has since setted at BYU being favored by 14 points. The over/under has seen a slight drop from 51.5 to 49.

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 31-17.


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.


F/+ is a combination of Bill Connelly's S&P+ and Brian Fremeau's FEI ratings. And it's usually pretty solid. 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 #24 (no change) and Virginia at #53 (Up from 61 after beating Louisville).

On his predictions, Bill C's predictor shows BYU winning by a score of 24-13 with a win probability of 78%. But much like last week's similar set up with Houston, Virginia is ultimately picked as the winner.


BYU is ranked #25 (down from 16) with a rating of 80.92
Virginia is ranked #70 with a rating of 68.96

Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as being worth 3.97 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 3.97 in favor of BYU, Sagarin favors BYU by 16 points (15.93).


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 #16 (down from 15) with a rating of 107.577
Virginia is ranked #74 with a rating of 91.500

The difference is 16.077. Billingsley does not provide a home-field advantage factor, but I'll apply the standard 3 points and say Billingsley favors BYU by 19 (19.077).


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

Donchess predicts a BYU win 33-19 with a win probability of 91%.


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. For some reason, the Accurating lags by one week, so these numbers are based on two games of results.

BYU is ranked #8 with a spread value of 68, over/under value of 26
Virginia is ranked #75 with a spread value of 47, over/under value of 24

His rating favors BYU by 24 after accounting for home-field advantage. With the combined over/under values at 50, the combination would predict a BYU win by the score of 37-13 -- not factoring BYU's win over Houston or Virginia's upset of Louisville.


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 63 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, BYU ranks #14 (same as last week) and Virginia ranks #57.

BYU is again expected to win, and a lot of the predictions and ratings shake out similarly as what was expected against Houston.