LINES AND ODDS
The sports books opened Stanford vs. Oregon State with the Cardinal favored by 16 1⁄2 points and has since moved to Stanford by 14 1⁄2. The change in the line reflects that early betters have laid more of their money down on Oregon State 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 29-14.
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 Stanford by 12 points.
The F/+ ratings list Stanford # 49 and Oregon State # 85.
Bill's S&P+ picks predicts Stanford by 13 points (winning 31.6-18.7) and gives Stanford a win probability of 77.2%. Connelly picks Colorado at +2 to cover the Vegas spread.
Stanford is ranked #19 with a rating of 83.80.
Oregon State is ranked #80 with a rating of 66.66.
Sagarin’s formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.44 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 2.44 in favor of the home team, Stanford, Sagarin has Stanford favored by 19 1⁄2 points (19.58).
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 #25 with a rating of 100.702.
Oregon State is ranked #77 with a rating of 85.670.
The difference is 15 (rounded down from 15.032) 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 18 points.
Donchess boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.
Donchess predicts a Stanford win 42-16 and gives Stanford a win probability of 97.7%.
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 #27 and Oregon State ranks #81.
This week everyone likes Stanford to win.
However, 14 1⁄2 points seems like a lot to lay down especially when you factor in the shakiness of the Stanford offense.
If you like Stanford against the spread, you must feel confident that the Beavers 107th ranked run defense is going to get eaten alive by Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love. There is good reason to think so. OSU surrenders 219.3 rush yards per game.
Still, a 3 score victory is a lot to ask of the Keller Chryst led Cardinal offense. And Oregon State is an average pass defense team. They will certainly be forcing Stanford to prove that they can beat them deep through the air before they stop loading up on run defense.
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