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BYU vs. UMass: Odds, betting lines and computer predictions

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Data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors might give us an accurate preview for BYU’s game against Massachusetts.

NCAA Football: Massachusetts at Brigham Young
Massachusetts defensive lineman Ali Ali-Musa (90) keeps his eyes on BYU running back KJ Hall (24) on Nov. 18, 2017, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

BYU dropped a winnable game in Boise and now turns to avenging the worst loss from the miserable 2017 season as it travels across the country to play Massachusetts.

The Cougars (4-5) host UMass (4-6) in a game that kicks off at 10 a.m. MT Saturday, Nov. 10, on BYUtv. The Cougars are basically in must-win mode the next two weeks against UMass and New Mexico State to lock up bowl eligibility before playing Utah.

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 14 points and the over/under is 60.

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.

Combining the line and the over/under, the betting combo has BYU winning about 37-23.

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.

CONNELLY’S S&P+

Bill Connelly’s S&P+ is 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.

Connelly’s S&P+ has BYU ranked #70 (-9 in two weeks). UMass is #101.

Bill’s prediction using his S&P+ as posted on SB Nation has BYU winning 33-26 (winning the game but not covering the spread).

SAGARIN

BYU is ranked #73 (-2 in two weeks) with a rating of 68.46

UMass is ranked #139 with a rating of 52.01

Sagarin’s formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.44 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding home-field points, Sagarin has BYU by 14.

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 #61 (+1) with a rating of 95.161

UMass is ranked #115 with a rating of 82.406

Using the ratings and a standard three points for home field advantage, Billingsley has BYU by 10.

DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING

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

This rating has BYU winning 33-23 at a 78% 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 ranked #71 (-4) with a rating of 0.60. UMass is #112 with a rating of -10.44.

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 105 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, BYU ranks #73 (-7). UMass ranks #107.