On Saturday in Palo Alto, Stanford look to add a huge victory over Notre Dame to bring home the Legends Trophy. Notre Dame leads the all-time series with a record of 19-10 over the Cardinal. Stanford is 7-6 vs. Notre Dame at Stanford Stadium. This is the fifth consecutive matchup between the universities in which both teams enter the game ranked with Stanford at #9, while Notre Dame is #6.
Last season, #9 Notre Dame defeated #14 Stanford 17-14.
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 Notre Dame at Stanford with the Irish favored by 2 points and has sense moved to Stanford by 4. 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 30-26.
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.
The F/+ ratings list Stanford #9 and Notre Dame #4.
Bill's S&P+ picks have yielded a tie (32.4-32.4). However the computers give Stanford a win probablity of 50.1%. Connelly picks Notre Dame to cover the Vegas spread.
Stanford is ranked #7 (+2) with a rating of 87.91.
Notre Dame is ranked #6 with a rating of 88.14.
Sagarin’s formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.68 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 2.68 in favor of Stanford, Sagarin has Stanford favored by 2.5 points (2.45).
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 #8 (-1) with a rating of 113.509.
Notre Dame is ranked #14 with a rating of 110.875.
The difference is 2.5 (rounded down from 2.634) 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 5.5 points.
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Donchess predicts a Stanford win 27-24 and gives Stanford a win probability of 58%.
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 #7 (+1) with a point spread value of 69 and over/under value of 27.
Notre Dame ranked #4 with a point spread value of 67 and over/under value of 28.
On a neutral field, Stanford is favored by 2. Adding 3 points for home field advantage, Stanford is favored by 5 with an expected score of Stanford 30 Notre Dame 25.
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 #9 (+3) and Notre Dame ranks #5.
A huge clash with major post-season implications. Can the Cardinal spoil rival Notre Dame's quest for the College Football Playoff? Las Vegas and NCAA Football mathematic calculations seem to think that Stanford will. But only by the slightest of margins.