Stanford can clinch the Pac-12 North Division with a victory of Oregon this Saturday. Stanford vs. Oregon has been the showcase matchup of the Pac-12 Conference for the past several years. The last time Stanford played Oregon was in 2014 when the Cardinal traveled to Autzen Stadium and lost by the score of 45-16. Stanford leads the all-time series with Oregon with 46 victories, 31 losses and a tie. (Plus, one governor banning of the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band! For what? Suggesting that Oregonian loggers grow marijuana since they couldn't cut down trees in order to save the Spotted Owl. They were booed mercilessly in Eugene. A lot has changed since 1990.)
What will happen this time around? Well, lets take a look at what the bookies and computers think.
LINES AND ODDS
The sports books opened Oregon at Stanford with the Cardinal favored by 8.5 points and has sense moved to Stanford by 10. The change in the line reflects that early betters have laid their money down on Stanford.
Vegas lines and odds aren't meant to be predictive. They are made to entice betting in equal portions on each side of the spread. However, combining the line and the over/under usually ends up close to some computer models. After all, Vegas is very good at this and it is a lot of fun.
Combining the line and the over/under, the Vegas combo has Stanford winning 40-30.
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. I've included 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.
The F/+ ratings list Stanford #9 (+3) and Oregon #48.
Bill's S&P+ picks predicted Stanford by 19 over Colorado. This week, S&P+ picks have Stanford by a healthy 13 points (winning 40-27) and give Stanford a win probablity of 77.5%. Connelly picks Stanford to cover the -10 Vegas spread.
During the 2015 College Football season Bill's S&P+ picks are 109-20 (84.5%) when yielding a win probability in the range of 70-79%.
Stanford is ranked #8 (+2) with a rating of 89.29.
Oregon is ranked #28 with a rating of 80.18.
Sagarin’s formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.76 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 2.78 in favor of Stanford, Sagarin has Stanford favored by 12 points (11.89).
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 margin of victory.
Stanford is ranked #5 (+3) with a rating of 114.428.
Oregon is ranked #25 with a rating of 107.86.
The difference is 6.5 (rounded down from 6.568) points on a neutral field. Billingsley does not provide a home-field advantage factor, but lets apply the standard 3 points and say Billingsley has Stanford by 9.5 points.
DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Donchess predicts a Stanford win 33-25 and gives Stanford a win probability of 74.5%.
Ashby's Accurating provides a point spread value for each team, which is subtracted from each other after adding 3 points to the home team. Accurating also provides an over/under value for each team, which are added together for the game's over/under.
Stanford is ranked #5 (+4) with a point spread value of 69 and over/under value of 27.
Oregon is ranked #80 with a point spread value of 63 and over/under value of 39.
On a neutral field, Stanford is favored by 6. Adding 3 points for home field advantage, Stanford is favored by 9 with an expected score of Stanford 38 Oregon 29.
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 106 computer ratings across the internet.
In that composite, Stanford ranks #6 (+5) and Oregon ranks #30.
The key for Stanford against Oregon is always the same every year. Dominate time of possession. Keep Oregon's offense in check by simple shortening the game for them. David Shaw's team has executed that gameplay style with expert brutality during the 2015 season. While Oregon's offense has come along with the development of Vernon Adams, their defense is still pedestrian -- ranking 75th in rush defense and 126th in pass defense. The Oregon defense is prone to allow Stanford to let that clock run and run as they collect first downs. Leaving Stanford fans smiling every time Hogan snaps with :02 left on the play clock. All this is perhaps why Vegas and computer predictors like Stanford on Saturday.