BYU went on the road and beat Michigan State, and did so handily. The Spartans are down, but that was the most satisfying win since the blowout win in Austin.
Now the Cougars are back home to host an SEC opponent. Let's take a look at odds and predictions ahead of the matchup with Mississippi State.
(This is, of course, for entertainment purposes only. While we don't encourage gambling, referencing predictions from the people who make money on them can be fun!)
LINES AND ODDS
BYU is favored by 7.5 points at most Vegas sportsbooks after opening as a 4-point favorite. The over/under sits at 58 after opening at 52.5. The Bulldogs have struggled, but it’s still surprising to see BYU’s best odds in Vegas to date coming against an SEC team.
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 33-25.
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.
BYU rocketed up the list as F/+ ranks the Cougars at #23 (30 last week). Mississippi State fell 22 spots to #54 after being bludgeoned by Auburn.
Bill’s predictions at Football Study Hall are similar to many you’ll see below.
His S&P+ gives BYU a 7-point edge with a 65% chance to win — but he picks Mississippi State to cover the spread. In his F/+ prediction, the numbers have BYU by 10 and he ultimately picks BYU to win.
BYU is ranked #39 (up 6) with a rating of 77.59
Mississippi State is ranked #53 with a rating of 73.10
Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.45 points.
So subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding the home field advantage, Sagarin has BYU by 7 (6.94).
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 #39 (up 9) with a rating of 95.900
Mississippi State is ranked #65 with a rating of 87.306
Billingsley doesn’t account for home field advantage, so adding a typical 3 points, he has has BYU by 11.5 (11.594).
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Donchess predicts a BYU win 30-25 and gives BYU a win probability of 67%.
Okay, so Sports-Reference doesn’t have a predictive component. But the previous one I had in this spot was never up to date, and S-R is a fantastic library of data and I want to give them some love.
Sports-Reference uses something it calls a Simple Ratings System (SRS). It describes SRS as “a rating that takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule.” The rating is expressed in points above/below average, with zero being average.
Right now, BYU currently ranks #36 (up 4) with an SRS of 25.17. Mississippi State ranks #76 with an SRS of 16.70.
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 what is currently 104 computer ratings across the internet.
In that composite, BYU ranks #41 (up 12) and Mississippi State ranks #64.
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For the first time this season, BYU is decidedly favored across the board — by as little as 5, by as much as 11.5.
Could a home game against an SEC team be a trap game?