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

Using data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors to get a hopefully-accurate preview for BYU's home opener against Houston.

Stacy Revere

BYU is gaining steam after slapping down the Texas Longhorns for the second straight year. How are the Cougars expected to fare against the second leg of the Texas two-step against Houston?Let's look at betting lines and computer predictions for BYU's home opener Thursday.

(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 points -- and that has quickly ballooned to BYU being favored by 18.5 points. The over/under has seen a slight uptick from 55 to 57.

Vegas lines and odds aren't necessarily meant to predict but to entice betting. However, combining the line and 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 38-19.

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.

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS F/+

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 and Houston at #50.

On his predictions, Bill C's predictor shows BYU winning 30-18 with a probability to win at 78.5% ... but then he chooses Houston to score the upset anyway.

SAGARIN

BYU is ranked #16 with a rating of 85.64. (Up from #32 last week.)
Houston is ranked #92 with a rating of 65.12.

Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as being worth 3.51 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 3.51 in favor of BYU, Sagarin favors BYU by a whopping 24 points (24.03).

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 #15 with a rating of 108.202 (Up from #24 last week.)
Houston is ranked #70 with a rating of 91.572.

The difference is 16.63. Billingsley does not provide a home-field advantage factor but I'll apply the standard 3 points and say Billingsley favors BYU by 20 (19.63).

DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING

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

The line from Donchess is much lower than the others, predicting a BYU victory 35-22, but gives BYU a huge win probability at 91%.

ASHBY'S ACCURATING

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 is not well-updated, so the following is based only on week one results.

BYU is ranked #20 with a spread value of 62, over/under value of 26
Houston is ranked #58 with a spread value of 55, over/under value of 28

His rating favors BYU by 10 after accounting for home-field advantage. With the combined over/under values at 54, the combination would predict a BYU win by the score of 32-22 -- again, not factoring BYU's 41-7 win at Texas or Houston's 47-0 win over Grambling.

COMPOSITE RATING

There are a lot of computer ratings that don't package with it 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 56 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, BYU ranks #14 (up from #30) and Houston ranks #63.

So far, with some ratings and predictions still to be updated, BYU is expected to win its home opener comfortably.