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Stanford vs. UCLA: 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 Bruins.

UCLA v BYU Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

Stanford’s first road trip of the season will be played in the Rose Bowl. The last visit to the Rose Bowl, Stanford thrashed Iowa 45-16 on the 1st day of 2016. Stanford has won 6 of this last 7 games in the Rose Bowl. The only loss coming to Michigan State. UCLA has fallen to the Cardinal in 8 straight contests. The longest Stanford win streak over the Bruins in the 87-game history between the two programs.

Josh Rosen leads the Bruins in their efforts to break the Stanford winning streak. Lets see what Vegas and computer formulas think will happen in game 88.

LINES AND ODDS

The sports books opened Stanford at UCLA with the Bruins favored by 1 point and has since moved to Stanford by 3. 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 25-22.

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.

F/+ does not predict a final score, but does give an expected margin. F/+ likes UCLA by a razor thin 0.3 points.

The F/+ ratings list Stanford # 5 (+2) and UCLA # 16.

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 UCLA by 1 point (winning 34.4-33.5) and gives Stanford a win probablity of 52.1%. Connelly picks UCLA at +3 to cover the Vegas spread.

SAGARIN

Stanford is ranked #3 (+2) with a rating of 92.27.

UCLA is ranked #14 with a rating of 84.89.

Sagarin’s formula currently values home field advantage as worth 2.70 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 2.70 in favor of the home team, UCLA, Sagarin has Stanford favored by 4.5 points (4.68).

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 (+3) with a rating of 103.827.

UCLA is ranked #33 with a rating of 96.592.

The difference is 7 (rounded down from 7.235) points. Billingsley does not provide a home-field advantage factor, but lets apply the standard 3 points and say Billingsley has Stanford by 4 points.

DONCHESS INFERENCE RATING

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

Donchess predicts a Stanford win 29-25 and gives Stanford a win probability of 65.6%.

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

Stanford is ranked #3 (+1) with a point spread value of 71 and over/under value of 25.

UCLA is ranked #20 with a point spread value of 61 and over/under value of 25.

On a neutral field, Stanford is favored by 10. Adding 3 points for home field advantage, Stanford is favored by 7 with an expected score of Stanford 29 UCLA 22.

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 #3 (+2) and UCLA ranks #29.

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For the first time this season, a computer hasn’t picked Stanford. Bill Connelly’s S&P+ likes UCLA. However, the confidence S&P+ gave in this prediction is very narrow. This would be a tough game regardless, but add in Stanford’s Top 10 ranking, their 8-game winning streak and you can be sure that the Cardinal will get the Bruins best shot.