LINES AND ODDS
The sports books opened Stanford vs. Washington State with the Cardinal favored by 3 1⁄2 points and has since moved to Stanford by 2. The change in the line reflects that early betters have laid more of their money down on Colorado to cover the spread.
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 26-24.
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.
F/+ does not predict a final score, but does give an expected margin. F/+ likes Colorado by 3 points.
The F/+ ratings list Stanford # 51 (-32) and Colorado # 21.
Bill's S&P+ picks predicts Colorado by 7 points (winning 30.5-23.5) and gives Colorado a win probability of 65.7%. Connelly picks Colorado at +2 to cover the Vegas spread.
Stanford is ranked #17 with a rating of 84.00.
Colorado is ranked #25 with a rating of 82.69.
Sagarin’s formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.42 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 2.42 in favor of the home team, Stanford, Sagarin has Stanford favored by 4 points (3.73).
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 #23 with a rating of 101.210.
Colorado is ranked #30 with a rating of 98.314.
The difference is 3 (rounded up from 2.896) points. Billingsley does not provide a home-field advantage factor, but lets apply the standard 3 points to the Cardinal and say Billingsley has Stanford by 6 points.
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Donchess predicts a Stanford win 30-23 and gives Stanford a win probability of 69.6%.
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 #26 and Colorado ranks #20.
This is one of those goofy games that have prognosticators baffled. The variance in computer predictions is huge here. There is a 15 point swing depending on your favorite formula. Bill Connelly likes Colorado by 7. Donchess thinks Stanford by 7.
Colorado has finally found their feet in the Pac-12 Conference. The Buffaloes are looking to continue their upward climb. Meanwhile, Stanford has lost its place at the top of the mountain. Can the Cardinal begin to hold their ground on Saturday?
The computer formula and their creators aren’t close to being in agreement when it comes to this weekend’s clash in Palo Alto.
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