It seems like all the pieces are there for BYU football, but they just haven’t quite come together yet. At 1-3, the Cougars get a desperately needed home game against a Group of 5 opponent.
But, Toledo is no cupcake. The Rockets boast a perennially good offense and are one of the top programs in the MAC.
Let's take a look at odds and predictions ahead of BYU’s second home game.
(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 fun!)
LINES AND ODDS
BYU is favored by 3.5 points at most Vegas sportsbooks after opening as a 4.5-point favorite. The over/under sits at 52 (where it opened). That over/under feel a bit low to anyone else?
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 28-24.
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.
Despite being 1-3, F/+ ranks BYU at #31. At 3-0, Toledo is at #39.
Bill’s predictions at Football Study Hall are mixed. His S&P+ gives Toledo a slight edge (Toledo by 0.6 with 51.4% chance to win) but his F/+ picks say BYU by 4.6 and ultimately picks BYU to win.
BYU is ranked #47 with a rating of 75.46
Toledo is ranked #38 with a rating of 77.62
Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.40 points.
So subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding the home field advantage, Sagarin has a pick ‘em (with BYU technically favored by 0.23 points).
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 #51 with a rating of 90.738
Toledo is ranked #35 with a rating of 96.270
Billingsley doesn’t account for home field advantage, so adding a typical 3 points, he has has Toledo by 2.5 (2.532).
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Donchess predicts a BYU win 31-26 and gives the Cougars a win probability of 67%.
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.
Ashby’s rating is almost never updated at a timely manner, so maybe I should stop including it in this roundup of odds and predictions...
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 82 computer ratings across the internet.
In that composite, BYU ranks #56 and Toledo ranks #31.
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In composite ratings and some predictors, Toledo’s 3-0 mark makes it superior to the 1-3 Cougars. But Vegas and other formulas give BYU the nod.
Which feels right: BYU as the favored team, or Toledo flexing its muscles?