Point Spread--Smointspread!

Boise State and Louisville are about to meet in the prestigious Liberty Bowl in one of the most anticipated matchups of the college football bowl season. Both teams are ranked in the top ten in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls as well as in the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings released earlier this month. Daily, the game is hyped on ESPN, USA Today, ABC as well as other local and national media publications. I'm amazed at both the number of point-spread predictions as well as the fact that these predictions are all over the place.

Ø      Jeff Sagarin, creator of the Sagarin Ratings that have been published in USA Today for over 15 years and one of 6 computer ratings used by the BCS to help determine its standings, favors Boise State by 1 point. It should be noted that "Predictor" model for forecasting college football games has proven to be the most reliable of any prognosticator on the market. 

Ø      Another reliable predictor is EA Sports' NCAA Football. I simulated 20 games between Boise State and Louisville (10 at the home of each school) and Boise State was the winner in 11 of those games. The average score was Boise State 35, Louisville 32. It should be noted that the software does not allow for games at neutral sites so this is the best approximation for a bowl game. 

Ø      The odds set by Las Vegas originally had Louisville favored by 14; they have since moved to a 13-point spread. 

Ø      Trev Alberts of ESPN says that Louisville will win "big", by at least 20 points according to Alberts. 

Ø      CBS Sports goes even further, saying that Louisville will win by a score of 58-30, and another commentator for ESPN predicts a score of 80-20 in favor of Louisville.

 With this wide disparity in predictions, someone here is way off. After this game, sports fans will be able to look at the result and say "That guy is credible; his information must have been good to be able to predict the game so closely" and "This guy over here cannot be trusted—something is terribly wrong with his prediction model." All of these bowl predictions are apparently fun to make because everyone likes to participate in them. However, the only score that will matter is the one about 6:30 CST at the home of the Liberty Bowl that will show which of these excellent teams has prevailed on the field! Then, we can all criticize, insult and second-guess the prognosticator above that missed the score by a mile.


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