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Big Game 2015 Stanford vs. California Odds, betting lines, and computer predictions

A look at the data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors to preview Saturday's Big Game between Stanford and Cal.

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Stanford can clinch the Pac-12 North Division with a victory of Cal today. Stanford vs. California, of course, is THE Big Game. Last year, Stanford played Cal at Memorial Stadium and won by a score of 38-17. Stanford leads the all-time series with California with 60 victories, 46 losses and a whopping 11 ties.

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 California at Stanford with the Cardinal favored by 12.5 points and has sense moved to Stanford by 11. The change in the line reflects that early betters have laid their money down on Cal. A look at the computer predictions my indicate why betters were on the Bears.

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 38-27.

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. 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 #8 (+1) and California #40.

Bill's S&P+ picks have Stanford by a 10 points (winning 37-27) and give Stanford a win probablity of 71.9%. Connelly picks California to cover the -11 Vegas spread.

During the 2015 College Football season Bill's S&P+ picks are 121-24 (83.4%) when yielding a win probability in the range of 70-79%.

SAGARIN

Stanford is ranked #9 (-1) with a rating of 87.52.

California is ranked #31 with a rating of 78.81.

Sagarin’s formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.71 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 2.71 in favor of Stanford, Sagarin has Stanford favored by 11 points (11.42).

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 margin of victory.

Stanford is ranked #7 (-2) with a rating of 112.767.

California is ranked #36 with a rating of 104.786.

The difference is 8 (rounded up from 7.981) 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 11 points.

DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING

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

Donchess predicts a Stanford win 35-25 and gives Stanford a win probability of 78.8%.

ASHBY'S ACCURATING

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 #8 (-3) with a point spread value of 68 and over/under value of 27.

California is ranked #37 with a point spread value of 60 and over/under value of 36.

On a neutral field, Stanford is favored by 8. Adding 3 points for home field advantage, Stanford is favored by 11 with an expected score of Stanford 37 California 26.

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 106 computer ratings across the internet.

In that composite, Stanford ranks #12 (-6) and California ranks #39.

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The predictions are unbelievably uniform. All except one of the metrics like the Cardinal by 11 points. The one that didn't have Stanford by 11 has Stanford by 10.