BYU got a week off after a frustrating road loss at Boise State. Now, the Cougars travel to return a trip to Cincinnati after needing a fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Bearcats last season.
Let’s take a look at what oddsmakers and computer predictions have to say about the matchup. We’re to the point in a season when advanced ratings paint a fairly good picture of how good a team is.
(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 10-point favorite. The over/under sits at 55 after opening at 50. Both teams are 4-4, but BYU has played a decidedly tougher schedule so far.
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 31-24.
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 #29 in the F/+ ratings. Cincinnati is ranked #86.
Bill’s predictions at Football Study Hall are similar to many you’ll see below.
His S&P+ gives BYU an 8-point edge with a 68% chance to win, and he picks the Cougars to cover that spread. In his F/+ prediction, the numbers have BYU by 11 and he ultimately picks BYU to win.
BYU is ranked #39 with a rating of 77.31
Cincinnati is ranked #91 with a rating of 63.65
Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.44 points.
So subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding the home field advantage, Sagarin has BYU by 11 (11.22).
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 with a rating of 97.279
Cincinnati is ranked #93 with a rating of 81.217
Billingsley doesn’t account for home field advantage, so adding a typical 3 points, he has has BYU by 13 (13.062).
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Donchess predicts a BYU win 35-24 and gives BYU a win probability of 78.5%.
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 #41 with an SRS of 24.15. Cincinnati ranks #101 with an SRS of 12.70.
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 118 computer ratings across the internet.
In that composite, BYU ranks #42 and Cincinnati ranks #87.
* * *
BYU has only been this decidedly a favorite once this season -- a home game against Mississippi State. But if Michigan State (a team rated/ranked similarly to Cincinnati) was a two-score road win for BYU, can Cincinnati also be?