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Stanford vs. USC: Odds, betting lines, and computer predictions

A look at the data from Las Vegas and several computer predictors to preview Saturday’s contest between the Cardinal and the Trojans.

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Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State v USC
Hey song girl, what is Stanford’s win streak over USC?
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Stanford welcomes the “Men of Troy” to Palo Alto on Saturday. This is one of the marquee match ups in the Pac-12. Lets take a look at what the oddsmakers and computer formulas predict.


The sports books opened USC at Stanford with the Cardinal favored by 6.5 points and has since moved to Stanford by 8.5. The change in the line reflects that early betters have laid their money down on Stanford 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 31-22.


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.


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 3.

The F/+ ratings list Stanford #7 and USC # 17.

Football Outsiders site only lists the ratings in order, but Connelly posts predictions on his SB Nation site Football Study Hall.

Bill's S&P+ picks predicts Stanford by 2.5 points (winning 32.6-30.1) and gives Stanford a win probablity of 55.7%. Connelly picks USC at +8.5 to cover the Vegas spread.


Stanford is ranked #5 with a rating of 89.65.

USC is ranked #21 with a rating of 83.71.

Sagarin’s formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.61 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 2.61 in favor of the home team, Stanford, Sagarin has Stanford favored by 8.5 points (8.55).


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 #10 with a rating of 102.865.

USC is ranked #34 with a rating of 96.286.

The difference is 6.5 (rounded down from 6.579) points. 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 boils down the ratings directly into digestible scores and probabilities, no math required.

Donchess predicts a Stanford win 31-24 and gives Stanford a win probability of 74.8%.


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 and over/under value for each team, which are added together for the game’s over/under.

Stanford is ranked #5 with a point spread value of 68 and over/under value of 26.

USC is ranked #24 with a point spread value of 61 and over/under value of 30.

On a neutral field, Stanford is favored by 7. Adding 3 points for home field advantage, Stanford is favored by 10 with an expected score of Stanford 33 USC 23.


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 #5 and USC ranks #26.