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

Looking at data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors to get a hopefully accurate preview for BYU’s game against San Jose State.

Carlos Meeks #26
BYU battled San Jose State to a 46-43 win on Oct. 24, 1998, in Provo.

For the second week in a row, BYU plays for its first FBS win of the season against an equally poor opponent.

The Cougars (1-7) host San Jose State (1-7) at 1 p.m. Saturday on BYUtv.

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 13 points at most Vegas sportsbooks after opening as a 14-point favorite. The over/under sits at 50 after opening at 46.5.

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 31-18.

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 SB Nation.

F/+ ratings have BYU at #120 (-3) and San Jose State at #128, where East Carolina was rated last week (there are 130 FBS teams, bee-tee-dubs).

Bill’s prediction using his S&P+ as posted on SB Nation has BYU winning 26-21 (his full breakdown was not available at the time of this posting).

SAGARIN

BYU is ranked #121 (-23) with a rating of 56.55.

San Jose State is ranked #174 with a rating of 44.33 (Sagarin rates FBS and FCS teams together).

Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.18 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding home-field points, Sagarin has BYU by 14.5.

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 #106 (-23) with a rating of 83.803

San Jose State is ranked #126 with a rating of 74.782

Billingsley’s numbers don’t typically factor in home-field advantage, so accounting for a standard three points at home, he has BYU by 12.

DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING

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

It has BYU winning 37-20 at 88% probability.

SPORTS-REFERENCE

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 #114 (-4) with a rating of -11.62.

San Jose State is #124 with a rating of -16.31.

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 101 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, BYU ranks #116 and SJSU is #127.

* * *

Doing this week after week, I’m growing more skeptical of computers’ abilities to evaluate BYU’s quality of play. We’ve got predictions here of BYU scoring in the 30s and winning by multiple touchdowns, when the Cougars have only scored 20 or more twice in eight games — one of which was 20, exactly, against a still winless, only kind-of-competitive FCS team.

All signs point to BYU’s first FBS win of the season ... just like last week. Maybe the friendly confines of LaVell Edwards Stadium can be the difference.