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BYU vs. Utah State: Odds, betting lines and computer predictions for the Old Wagon Wheel

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

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NCAA Football: Utah State at San Jose State Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a rough start. Can a bye week cure all ills ahead of another in-state game against Utah State?

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!)


BYU is favored by 2 points at most Vegas sportsbooks after BYU opened as a 6.5-point favorite. The over/under sits at 46, which is about where it opened.

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 24-22.


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.


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 Utah State ranked #82 and BYU at #83.

Bill’s prediction using his S&P+ as posted on SB Nation has Utah State by 7 at 65.7% probability. His F/+ formula has Utah State by 2.9 at 56.7%.


BYU is ranked #77 with a rating of 66.58

Utah State is ranked #92 with a rating of 63.32

Sagarin's formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.41 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding home-field points, Sagarin has BYU by 1 (0.85).


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 #52 with a rating of 96.160.

Utah State is ranked #103 with a rating of 82.682.

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 (10.478).


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

It has BYU winning 28-23 at 69.5% probability.


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.

Utah State is currently ranked #73 with a rating of 2.81

BYU is currently ranked #102 with a rating of -5.26 — below average :-(


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 68 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, Utah State ranks #86 and BYU ranks #87.

* * *

So in the F/+ ratings and the composite rating, Utah State and BYU are basically the same team. Vegas and Billingsley, especially, like BYU, while Sagarin nearly has it as a toss-up and S-R’s SRS thinks Utah State is a much better team.

What do you think is the most in-tune rating or odds system this week?