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

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

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BYU erased an early 14-0 deficit, then coughed up a 17-point lead of its own only to see Tanner Mangum lead the Cougars on a last-minute drive to defeat East Carolina last week.

We're getting all we can take of dramatic finishes this season.

Let's look at how BYU is expected to fair hosting Cincinnati.

(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.)


BYU is favored by 6.5 points at most Vegas sportsbooks, staying about where the line opened at 7. The over/under sits at 66, up from 61 where it opened and a good 11 points more than the BYU-ECU over/under.

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 36-30.


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.


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 predictions on his SB Nation site Football Study Hall.

The F/+ ratings list BYU #30 (+3) and Cincinnati at #70 (8 spots lower than ECU was last week).

Bill's S&P+ picks predicted BYU by 13 over ECU. This week, S&P+ picks have BYU by a whopping 19 points (winning 41-22) and give BYU a win probability of 87%. Connelly picks BYU to cover the 6.5-point Vegas spread.


BYU is ranked #36 (+2) with a rating of 78.60
Cincinnati is ranked #66 with a rating of 69.78

Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.76 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 2.76 in favor of BYU, Sagarin has BYU favored by 11.5 (11.58).


Billingsley's ranking was also previously used by the BCS. With the BCS restriction to remove margin of victory no longer a consideration, Billingsley has created a version of his formula that accounts for MOV.

BYU is ranked #36 (-4) with a rating of 103.294
Cincinnati is ranked #57 with a rating of 99.786

The difference is 3.5 points on a neutral field. Billingsley does not provide a home-field advantage factor, but I'll apply the standard 3 points and say Billingsley has BYU favored by 6.5.


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

Donchess predicts a BYU win 33-26 and gives BYU a win probability of 70%.


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 #24 (+5) with a point spread value of 58 and over/under value of 30.
Cincinnati is ranked #60 (-4) with a point spread value of 55 and over/under value of 34.

On a neutral field, BYU is favored by 3. Adding 3 points for home field advantage, BYU is favored by 6 with an expected score of 35-29.


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 106 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, BYU ranks #29 (+7) and Cincinnati ranks #61.

* * *
BYU is expected to win, but some computer formulas expect this to not be nearly as close of a game as Vegas. The big question, of course, is how Tanner Mangum can play -- or if he does. There's a wide-ranging variety of results that all hinge on Mangum. Kick is Friday, 6 p.m. MT on ESPN.