It’s game week!
It’s hard to believe we’ve reached that time again, but thanks to BYU’s “Week 0” game hosting the Big Sky’s Portland State Vikings, we’re treated to an early morsel of Cougar football.
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
As often happens in FBS vs. FCS games expected to be very lopsided, most sportsbooks don’t have lines available for this game — though I did find one source saying BYU is favored by 33 points.
With no over-under from sportsbooks, I also poked around and saw that OddsShark has a predicted score of BYU winning 31-9.
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.
F/+ ratings for 2017 will not be posted until after Week 0 games. BYU ended 2016 ranked #31 (and the data does not include FCS teams).
Bill doesn’t make a prediction at Football Study Hall but his S&P+ formula says BYU by 36.4.
BYU is ranked #49 with a rating of 74.63
Portland State is ranked #173 with a rating of 45.30
Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.41 points.
So subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding the home field advantage, Sagarin has BYU by 32 (31.74).
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 #42 with a rating of 96.715 to start the season. (Finished #41 last year.)
Portland State is not rated as an FCS team. Substituting the worst FBS team, Billingsley’s rating for Texas State is 71.289.
Billingsley doesn’t account for home field advantage, so adding a typical 3 points with our substitution of Texas State, he has BYU by at least 28 (28.43).
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Unfortunately, Donchess doesn’t predict FBS vs. FCS matchups. Darn. Check back next week.
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.
The SRS data doesn’t populate until games are played, so check back next week! (Sorry, I can’t control these things!)
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 36 computer ratings across the internet.
In that composite, BYU ranks #37.
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This game should be what you’d expect — a nice tune-up for starters and some good second-half run for everyone else.