Brigham Young had a fantastic 10-2 season, and they picked up wins over two solid Pac-12 opponents in Utah and Arizona State. The offense has been stellar under QB Jalen Hall (and Baylor Romney for two games), as they rank 12th in my adjusted success rate.
However, BYU is not unbeatable, as some might think due to their record or other reasons. We’ll get into that in a second.
Brigham Young seems respectable on defense based on my adjusted yards per play, as they rank 65th for the season. However, they are much worse by adjusted success rate (102nd).
To explain this discrepancy, Brigham Young has been able to limit explosive plays but have had a difficult time stopping opposing offenses. However, research into college football shows there is a huge random component to explosive plays, both on offense and defense. Success rate is significantly more predictive, which means BYU’s defense is most likely closer to 102nd than FBS average.
In addition, Brigham Young held Utah to an impressive 35.7% passing success rate (39.8% college football average). However, this was against QB Charlie Brewer, who got benched for Cameron Rising. Utah would eventually rise to 11th in my pass offense rankings by adjusted success rate.
BYU is getting credit for playing against the weaker Utah QB. They would rank worse than 102nd if the calculation broke down offenses by quarterback.
UAB had a stellar defense that ranked 26th in my adjusted success rate. The offense is not as strong (55th). Dylan Hopkins took over as the starting QB from Tyler Johnston in the third game.
My model likes Brigham Young by 4.3 points, which suggests value on UAB +7. As of Thursday morning (December 16), Circa and FanDuel are leaning towards UAB with Brigham Young -6.5.
However, that’s not the only situation with value.
Suppose you’re in a small bowl pool of 30 or less. You should pick BYU to win this game, as they are the favorite by my numbers and the markets.
However, if you’re in a medium sized pool larger than 30 entrants, you need to think contrarian. This means finding a game in which the vast majority of people pick the favorite. Pick the underdog and assign a high number of confidence points. If the dog wins, you get points that only 4% of entrants will get.
On ESPN, an insane 96% of entrants picked Brigham Young to beat UAB. However, UAB has a 38% chance to pull the upset.
Brigham Young should win this game as the favorite. Their pass offense should be able to throw on this Conference USA defense.
But if a few plays tip this game towards UAB, you gain a substantial edge in your bowl pool.
Football betting with a PhD edge
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