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

Data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors might give us an accurate preview for BYU’s road trip to Wisconsin.

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NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Brigham Young Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While Week 1 had us believing, Week 2 has us wondering if BYU’s offense is the same as it was last season.

The Cougars (1-1) now face a tough road trip to Wisconsin (2-0).

The game kicks at 1:30 p.m. MT Saturday, Sept. 15, on ABC.

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!)


Wisconsin is favored by 21 points at most Vegas sportsbooks after opening as a 21.5-point favorite. The over/under is at 46 after opening at 44.

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 Vegas combo has Wisconsin winning about 34-12.


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.


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 #78 (-29) and Wisconsin at #7.

Bill’s prediction using his S&P+ as posted on SB Nation has Wisconsin easily covering the spread and winning 44-11.


BYU is ranked #78 (-3) with a rating of 67.10

Wisconsin is ranked #8 with a rating of 89.31

Sagarin’s formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.36 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding home-field points, Sagarin has Wisconsin by 24.5 (24.57).


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 #64 (-2) with a rating of 89.558

Wisconsin is ranked #8 with a rating of 100.809

Billingsley’s numbers don’t typically factor in home-field advantage, so accounting for a standard three points at home, he has Wisconsin by 14 (14.251).


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

It has Wisconsin winning 41-14 at 98% probability.


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.

SRS has BYU ranked #125 (-6.70 rating, down 57 spots) and Wisconsin ranked #19 (32.50 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 56 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, BYU ranks #77 (-9) Wisconsin is #7.

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BYU took a plunge in S-R’s Simple Ratings System and otherwise doesn’t fare well according to #moneymakers and #computermath.

How are you feeling about the data, Cougar fans?