After an exciting season-opener that saw BYU claim a wild win over Nebraska, the Cougars open the home schedule this week with Boise State. It's fall, it's Saturday night, and it's a game in LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Let's look at how BYU is expected to fair with the Broncos.
(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, Boise State was favored by 1.5. The line has moved slightly and Boise State is favored by 2.5. The over/under opened at 56.5 and is now down to 55.
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 Boise State winning 29-27.
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 F/+ predictions on his SB Nation site Football Study Hall.
The F/+ ratings list Boise State at #17 and BYU #34.
Bill's F/+ picks give Boise a bigger nod that Vegas odds. F/+ has Boise State winning 25-21 (4.6 point favorites) with a Boise win probability of 60.6%.
BYU is ranked #38 (+11) with a rating of 77.63
Boise State is ranked #30 with a rating of 79.76
Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as being worth 2.65 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 2.65 in favor of BYU, Sagarin favors BYU by 0.5 points (0.52) -- a virtual pick 'em.
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 #35 (+14) with a rating of 100.947
Boise State is ranked #15 with a rating of 104.428
The difference is 3.481 on a neutral field. Billingsley does not provide a home-field advantage factor, but I'll apply the standard 3 points and say Billingsley favors Boise State by 0.5 points (0.481) -- another virtual pick 'em.
DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Donchess predicts a Boise State win 30-27 and gives Boise a win probability of 57%. A slim margin that favors Boise.
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.
We'll check in on Ashby's Accurating later. Sometimes I'm not sure why I use this rating, it is never updated in a timely enough manner to be useful. We'll see :-)
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 51 computer ratings across the internet. That number of rankings compiled into this composite can balloon over 100 as the season progresses.
In that composite, BYU ranks #35 (+8) and Boise ranks #20.
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Last week, Nebraska was favored across the board by about a touchdown. BYU had already beat the predictions in the game, then won it outright on the final play.
This week, Vegas and bettors expect the close game that BYU-Nebraska delivered. The most decisive rankings/odds/predictions all favor Boise, but a few are nearly a pick 'em. Here's to BYU defending home turf for the second time in a row against the Broncos.