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BYU vs. Navy: Odds, betting lines and computer predictions for 2020 opener

Using data from Las Vegas and available computer predictors that might give us an accurate look for BYU’s 2020 season opener at Navy.

Matt Bellini
This Sept. 16, 1989, photo shows BYU’s Matt Bellini (8) run the ball against Navy in a game in Annapolis, Maryland. Bellini scored four touchdowns in a 31-10 win, the last time the two schools played before the 2020 season opener.
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There were plenty of times it didn’t look like this day would come, but we’re nearly there. A 2020 football season for the BYU Cougars.

BYU kicks off at 6 p.m. MDT Monday, Sept. 7, for a primetime Labor Day matchup at Navy on ESPN.

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 now favored by 1 point in most books after Navy opened as a 2.5-point favorite. The over-under dropped to 49.5 after opening at 55.5.

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.

Combining the line and the over/under, the betting combo has BYU winning about 25-24.

PREDICTIVE RANKINGS

Some computer rankings are designed to provide a built-in predictive element by comparing the ratings of two teams.

The most famous of computer ratings 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.

SAGARIN

Despite the lack of games or schedules in some parts of the country, Sagarin has a 2020 preseason ranking up.

BYU is ranked #58 with a rating of 71.56.

Navy is ranked #53 with a rating of 73.33.

Sagarin’s formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.32 points. Subtracting the difference between the ratings and adding home-field points, Sagarin has Navy by 4.

BILLINGSLEY

Billingsley’s ranking was also previously used by the BCS. Billingsley has created a version of his formula that accounts for MOV.

BYU is ranked #41. Navy is ranked #13.

Billingsley has eliminated his direct projections due to the uncertainty of the 2020 season, but using the values associated with his ranking formula, Billingsley has Navy by 10.

DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING

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

This rating has Navy winning 29-26 at a probability of 58%.

RANKING BY POSITION

SPORTS-REFERENCE

S-R is a fantastic library of data so make sure you support them by clicking through to the site and perusing.

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.

With Week 1 yet to be played, there is no SRS for the 2020 season. This rating will probably be pretty wonky this season due to who is playing and who isn’t.

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 28 computer ratings across the internet.

BYU is ranked #42 and Navy is ranked #25.