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BYU vs. Michigan State: Odds, betting lines and computer predictions

A game at Sparty? Indeed. Using data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors to get a hopefully accurate preview for BYU’s game against Michigan State.

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Michigan State v Indiana Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

BYU got a much-needed win in a shootout over Toledo, but questions remain over injuries to Butch Pau’u and Troy Warner. Will the defensive duo play? The Cougars need ‘em.

As the Cougars travel to play Michigan State, let's take a look at odds and predictions ahead of BYU’s biggest road game.

(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!)


Michigan State is favored by 6 points at most Vegas sportsbooks after opening as a 4-point favorite. The over/under sits at 49.5 after opening at 50. Unlike last week, the over/under feels more accurate here. (K maybe it’s not for entertainment, I hope you put money on the over last week with the O/U at 52.)

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 Michigan State winning 28-22.


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.


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 is holding steady as F/+ ranks the Cougars at #30 (31 last week). At 2-2, Michigan State is at #44.

Bill’s predictions at Football Study Hall are close, but give the nod to BYU. His S&P+ gives BYU a 2-point edge with a 54.6% chance to win. His F/+ picks say a virtual pick ‘em — BYU by 0.1 and ultimately picks BYU to win.


BYU is ranked #45 (up 2) with a rating of 75.51

Michigan State is ranked #51 with a rating of 73.92

Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.59 points.

So subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding the home field advantage, Sagarin has Michigan State by 1.


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 #48 (up 3) with a rating of 91.700

Michigan State is ranked #34 with a rating of 96.261

Billingsley doesn’t account for home field advantage, so adding a typical 3 points, he has has Michigan State by 7.5 (7.561).


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

Donchess predicts a BYU loss 31-24 and gives Michigan State a win probability of 70%.


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 #40 with an SRS of 24.05. Michigan State ranks #85 with an SRS of 15.94.


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 105 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, BYU ranks #53 (up 3) and Michigan State ranks #58.

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Once again, we have a mixed bag. While general consensus is for a Michigan State win, F/+ is more favorable to BYU while others have Sparty by a full touchdown.

What do you think?