Date/Time: September 20, 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: BYU -15
The BYU Cougars will be looking to exact revenge on the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon in Provo. The Cougars lost 19-16 in Charlottesville last year in a rainy, sloppy mess of a game. The Cavaliers gained only 223 yards, yet pulled out the late victory. The Cougars look like a team on a mission this season and a change to avenge one of last season’s worst losses has to be something they are eager to do. BYU has looked very impressive and Virginia picked up a huge win for the program over Louisville this past Saturday. The Cougars are more than a two-touchdown favorite in this game.
It appeared that Mike London was lucky to keep his job after a 2-10 season in which the Cavaliers failed to win an ACC game. After a gutsy performance against UCLA and an upset win over Louisville, the Cavaliers ride into Utah with a bit of momentum. The Cavaliers have done just enough offensively to take some pressure off of their defense and that has made all the difference. Through three games, Greyson Lambert has completed nearly 68 percent of his passes. The running game, which was supposed to be the strong suit of the Virginia offense, has been poor, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.
Virginia outgained UCLA in the season opener, though UCLA had three defensive touchdowns in the second quarter. UCLA only ran for three yards per carry in that game and the Cavaliers did a great job containing Brett Hundley. They’ll have to do the same with Heisman hopeful Taysom Hill. Louisville only managed 292 yards against the Cavaliers in this past weekend’s upset. The Cavaliers defense has racked up 12 sacks and more than 20 tackles for loss already this season.
Taysom Hill has been everything the Cougars could have hoped for so far this season. Hill has accounted for 10 total touchdowns and over 1,000 total yards of offense. In just two games, Jamaal Williams has rushed for 228 yards and 13 different players have had at least one reception. BYU has scored 109 points against UConn, Texas, and Houston. As a team, the Cougars are averaging nearly five yards per carry and they have worn opponents down in the second half, outscoring them by a 52-20 margin.
Through three games, the BYU defense has given up just 938 yards and 14 points per game. Opponents are 17-of-48 on third down and have averaged 2.06 yards per carry. This is a very experienced secondary with four seniors and plenty of upperclassmen in the front seven as well. They’ve been dominant at stopping the run and Virginia certainly doesn’t possess a dynamic offense. This game certainly has the potential to get away from Virginia in a hurry if they’re forced to play catch-up from the start.
Mike London is 3-0 ATS and 2-1 SU so far this season. That improves his overall record to 20-27-26 ATS and 20-32 straight up. The Cavaliers are on the road for the first time this season. Last season, they were 2-2 ATS on the road and 4-4-1 as an underdog. Bronco Mendenhall is 2-1 ATS so far this season and 3-0 SU. Mendenhall is 65-50-1 ATS with BYU and 27-20 ATS as a home favorite.
Free College Football Pick: BYU Cougars
BYU has revenge on their minds in this game and a win over Virginia looks a tad better than it did prior to the Louisville game. The Cougars were a little lackadaisical against Houston at times and Mendenhall won’t stand for that kind of performance again. The Cougars should have another suffocating defensive performance against the Virginia offense and may not need to hang a big number to cover this spread.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.