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BYU vs. LSU: Odds, betting lines and computer predictions for New Orleans showdown

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Let’s look at data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors to get a hopefully accurate preview for BYU’s Big Easy showdown against Louisiana State.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State Spring Game
LSU Tigers quarterback Justin McMillan (12) calls a play at the line during the second quarter of the annual LSU Tigers purple-gold spring game at Tiger Stadium in April 2017. LSU opens their season against BYU.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

BYU has a sleepy win in the books to start the 2017 season. LSU is looking to open its season with a win in New Orleans.

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

LSU is favored by 15 points at most Vegas sportsbooks after opening as an 8-point favorite. The over/under sits at 47 after opening at 48.5.

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 LSU winning 31-16.

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 his SB Nation site Football Study Hall.

F/+ ratings for 2017 are still not posted, though the site says updates would begin Aug. 29. BYU ended 2016 at #31, LSU ended at #6.

Bill’s prediction using his S&P+ as posted on SB Nation is LSU by 19 at 86.4%.

SAGARIN

BYU is ranked #49 with a rating of 75.55

LSU is ranked #7 with a rating of 90.06 (a rating almost exactly double that of Portland State, btw)

Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.41 points — which technically doesn’t factor in here.

So subtracting the difference between the ratings, Sagarin has LSU by 15 (14.51).

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 #48 (-6) with a rating of 95.965.

LSU is ranked #11 with a rating of 100.550.

Billingsley’s numbers curiously have LSU by 5 (4.59) — which might be a result of only a few teams having played games?

DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING

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

It has LSU winning 31-21 at 79.5% probability.

SPORTS-REFERENCE

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 is only partially populated with only some teams having played games, so check back next week.

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 47 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, LSU rankes #8 BYU ranks #37.

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Not surprisingly, LSU is an overwhelming favorite. What do you think, can BYU beat the spread? Or better yet, steal a win?