It feels like it's been a while since BYU played football. After a bye week followed the game against Wagner, which was more like a video game exhibition, it's time to get back to business.
Let's look at how BYU is expected to fair in a Friday visit to San Jose State.
(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
BYU is favored by 13 points at most Vegas sportsbooks, moving up a tick from where the line opened at 12. The over/under sits at 57 (it opened at 56.5).
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 BYU winning 35-22.
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.
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 predictions on his SB Nation site Football Study Hall.
The F/+ ratings list BYU #37 (-7 pre-Wagner) and San Jose State is at #103 (aside from Wagner, because FCS isn't included in F/+, this is BYU's lowest-ranked game to date. UConn is currently 79).
Bill's S&P+ picks mirror Vegas decently close. His numbers have BYU winning by 13 (by the score 36-23) with a win probability of 78%. He ultimately does not pick BYU to cover the spread.
BYU is ranked #35 (+1) with a rating of 77.85
San Jose State is ranked #103 with a rating of 60.66
Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.78 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 2.76 in favor of SJSU, Sagarin has BYU favored by 14.5 (14.41).
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 #34 (+2) with a rating of 105.248
SJSU is ranked #99 with a rating of 85.920
The difference is ~19.5 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 16.5.
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Donchess predicts a BYU win 40-20 and gives BYU a win probability of 89%.
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.
It was not updated after last week, but using the previous week's numbers:
BYU is ranked #29 with a point spread value of 59 and over/under value of 30.
SJSU is ranked #98 with a point spread value of 39 and over/under value of 28.
On a neutral field, BYU is favored by 20. Adding 3 points for home field advantage, BYU is favored by 17 with an expected score of 37-20.
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 112 computer ratings across the internet.
In that composite, BYU ranks #30 (-1) and San Jose State ranks #93.
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My gut reaction to the Vegas line is that it's too low, but, it's certainly possible SJSU scores late to bring it near 13 points. Otherwise, I'm feeling the 16-17 point spreads are going to be more accurate.