Man, it’s depressing that talking about BYU football can even come close to including references like that. But here we are.
The Cougars (1-6) try to begin a long road to bowl eligibility this week — first, by just winning a daggum game against “an FBS” team, who is East Carolina (1-6). It kicks off at 5 p.m. MDT and airs on CBS Sports Network.
Let’s take a look at what oddsmakers and computer predictions have to say about the matchup.
(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 5.5 points at most Vegas sportsbooks after opening as a 7.5-point favorite. The over/under sits at 58 after opening at 54.5.
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 32-26.
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 SB Nation.
F/+ ratings have BYU at #117 and East Carolina at #128 (there are 130 FBS teams, bee-tee-dubs).
Bill’s prediction using his S&P+ as posted on SB Nation has BYU by 5 at 62% probability. His F/+ formula has BYU by only 1 at 53% probability.
BYU is ranked #98 with a rating of 61.82.
East Carolina is ranked #141 with a rating of 52.33 (Sagarin rates FBS and FCS teams together).
Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.07 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding home-field points, Sagarin has BYU by 7.5.
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 #83 with a rating of 91.592
East Carolina is ranked #120 with a rating of 78.083
Billingsley’s numbers don’t typically factor in home-field advantage, so accounting for a standard three points at home, he has BYU by 10.5.
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
It has BYU winning 32-24 at 76% probability.
So Sports-Reference doesn’t have a predictive component. But 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 is currently ranked #110 with a rating of -9.22. Seems bad, but East Carolina is #125 with a rating of -17.75, nearly twice as much below average as BYU.
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 102 computer ratings across the internet.
In that composite, BYU ranks #111 and ECU is #120.
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All signs point to BYU’s first FBS win of the season, but it’s a long flight and a road game. Let’s hope the Cougars can put one together.