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BYU vs. UMass football: Odds, betting lines and computer predictions

Using data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors to get a hopefully accurate preview for BYU’s game against Massachusetts.

Southern Utah v BYU

BYU sprinted to a big halftime lead, then pitter-pattered through the second half in a 37-7 win over Southern Utah.

The Cougars continue their three-game homestand with Massachusetts. Let’s take a look at what oddsmakers and computer predictions have to say about BYU and UMass.

(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

At most Vegas sportsbooks, BYU is favored by 29 points after opening at 30. The over/under sits at 56.5 after opening at 56.

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 43-14.

PREDICTIVE RANKINGS

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 is ranked #27 (no change) in the F/+ ratings. UMass is #111.

In Bill’s predictions at Football Study Hall, both S&P+ and F/+ give BYU a 23-point edge. S&P+ gives BYU a 91% chance to win, while F/+ gives only 81%. In both formulas, he picks UMass to cover the spread.

SAGARIN

Sagarin does rate FBS and FCS teams together (for example, he has North Dakota State at #55 — there are 128 FBS teams.)

BYU is ranked #34 (up 1) with a rating of 78.32.

UMass is ranked #140 (only 10 better than SUU last week) with a rating of 53.20.

Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.29 points.

So subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding the home field advantage, Sagarin has BYU by 27 (27.41).

BILLINGSLEY

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 #43 (down 7) with a rating of 97.443.

UMass is ranked #122 with a rating of 72.456.

Using those values, and including that Billingsley doesn’t account for home field advantage, so adding a typical 3 points, he would have BYU by 28 (27.987).

DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING

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

Donchess predicts a BYU win 44-17 with a 98% probability.

SPORTS-REFERENCE

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.

BYU currently ranks #39 (no change) with an SRS of 24.97. UMass ranks #118 with an SRS of -10.92.

COMPOSITE RATING

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 122 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, BYU ranks #38 (up 1). UMass ranks #120.

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Hopefully, what we’re watching this game for is to see who runs the rock for BYU and if the offense looks better overall, and especially with Tanner Mangum behind center.