Behind QB Zach Wilson and an explosive offense, Brigham Young was a team on a mission. The goals: An undefeated regular season and a New Year’s Six bowl.
When a team’s lofty postseason hopes are crushed, what happens next? The Cougars came up 1 yard short in a dramatic 22-17 loss at Coastal Carolina last week, making Saturday night’s home date with San Diego State an obvious letdown spot. Handicappers can play the role of Dr. Phil when attempting to project the psychology of the BYU (9-1) side.
The Aztecs and Cougars arranged this game several weeks ago when both teams were seeking to fill holes in the schedule. San Diego State coach Brady Hoke has played three quarterbacks this season while getting poor results across the board. As usual, the Aztecs (4-3) are surviving on defense and special teams play while riding a workhorse running back, and their largest margin of defeat was 11 points against San Jose State.
When comparing the offenses, the talent gap is wide in favor of BYU. Wilson has passed for 27 touchdowns, but had only one last week. The Cougars had scored 41 points or more in eight of their previous nine games. Sharp money is on the home favorite, pushing the line to 17.5 after it opened 14, so look Over the total instead. Bet on Wilson and the BYU offense to bounce back.
The Pick: Over 47.5
TROY ( 13.5) over Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers (10-0) are in a sandwich spot in their schedule after upsetting BYU and with the Sun Belt championship game on deck. Troy is a dangerous two-touchdown home ‘dog. Gunnar Watson passed for 297 yards and three touchdowns last week in the Trojans’ 29-0 win at South Alabama.
UCLA ( 3.5) over Southern California: Chip Kelly appeared hopeless when the Bruins opened the season with an embarrassing loss at Colorado. But late in his third season, Kelly is above .500 for the first time as coach at UCLA, which improved to 3-2 with a win at Arizona State last week. Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who missed two games because of COVID-19 contact tracing, has returned to trigger Kelly’s offense along with the emergence of running backs Demetric Felton and Brittain Brown.
USC (4-0) can earn a spot in the Pac-12 title game with a win, and while coach Clay Helton is nearly off the hot seat, a loss to UCLA is the last thing he needs in terms of job security. Helton never makes it easy on himself. Kelly and the Bruins, who beat the Trojans 34-27 as 3-point underdogs in 2018, seem ready to rise up in this rivalry game at the Rose Bowl.
Unlv-HAWAII (Over 58): The past five meetings between these teams in Honolulu resulted in high scores -- 35-28, 41-38, 37-35, 48-10 and 59-21 – and I expect this game to follow that trend. Warriors quarterback Chevan Cordeiro will run and pass all over a rotten Rebels defense. UNLV has allowed 45, 34, 40, 37 and 34 points in its five losses. Hawaii should score more than 40 in a lopsided win.
Last week: 2-2