LAS VEGAS LINES AND ODDS
The sports books opened Stanford vs. Utah with the Cardinal favored by 3 points and the spread has moved to Stanford by 5 1⁄2. The slight change in the line reflects that early bettors have laid more money down on Stanford than Utah 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 28-22.
2017 Stanford Vegas record against the spread: 2-3
2017 Vegas record predicting Stanford football outcomes: 4-1
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 8 1⁄2 points with a 68.9% Win Probability.
The F/+ ratings list Stanford # 17 (-4) and Utah # 42.
Football Outsiders site only lists the ratings in order, but Bill Connelly posts predictions on SB Nation.
Bill's S&P+ picks predict The Cardinal by 4 points (winning 31.4-27.4) and give Stanford a win probability of 59.2%. Connelly picks Utah at +5 1⁄2 to cover the Vegas spread.
Bill Connelly’s 2017 record predicting Stanford against the Vegas spread: 2-3
Bill Connelly’s 2017 record predicting Stanford football outcomes: 4-1
Stanford is ranked #18 with a rating of 83.97.
Utah is ranked #31 with a rating of 78.92.
Sagarin’s formula currently values home field advantage as worth 1.94 points. So subtracting the difference between the ratings and then adding 1.94 in favor of the home team, Utah, Sagarin has Stanford favored by 3 points (3.11).
Sagarin’s 2017 record predicting Stanford football outcomes: 4-1
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 #19 with a rating of 103.310.
Utah is ranked #27 with a rating of 101.135.
The difference is 2 (rounded down from 2.175) points. Billingsley does not provide a home-field advantage factor, but let's apply the standard 3 points to the Utes and say Billingsley has Utah by 1 point.
Billingsley’s 2017 record predicting Stanford football outcomes: 4-1
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 57.3%.
Donchess’ 2017 record predicting Stanford football outcomes: 4-1
FPI has Stanford ranked at #14. This week’s opponent, Utah, is #51.
FPI doesn’t provide a prediction as far as a score but does give a win probability. FPI suggests that Stanford has an 76.1% win probability over Utah.
FPI’s 2017 record predicting Stanford football outcomes: 3-2
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 #22 and Utah ranks #31.