By Greg Dempson
It was 34 years ago to the day, back in the 1984… when Qualcomm Stadium was known as Jack Murphy Stadium, the BYU Cougars defeated the Michigan Wolverines in the Holiday Bowl on December 21, (24–17.) That victory resulted in BYU being crowned the national champions by the Associated Press and the Coaches Poll. With that win vs. the Wolverines BYU finished the season at 13–0 with one of those 13 wins in that ’84 season being against the Cowboys when both teams played in the Mountain West Conference. I remember it well because I won that wager.
Okay, that was then, this is now, so I will delve into the numbers for tonight’s contest. The Cougars are 10.5 point favorites at –120 with the total pegged at 57 as of this report.
BYU will be without their starting quarterback, as Taysom Hill went down in their last game with a season ending injury. That is the fourth time he’s been injured in the past five years. The Cougars have an ample back-up with sophomore Tanner Mangum who completed just under 60% of his passes for 3,377 yards with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a freshman last season. He’s also seen action this year and in the last three games he completed 14 out of 18 pass for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hill is the better running quarterback of the two. Magngum was their QB in last years’ Bowl game vs. the Utah Utes and they trailed 35–0 in the first quarter!!
In the Trenches
· BYU’s strength of schedule was #67 vs. an SOS of #74 for Wyoming. BYU only defeated one team with a winning FBS record, the 9–3 Toledo Rockets. They were very competitive in their four loses, (Utah, UCLA, W. Virginia and Boise State,) as they lost by a combined 8 points in those four contests.
· As for the Cowboys, they did defeat Bowl winner San Diego State at home and covered in the championship game, vs. the Aztecs, also a home game. The also upset Boise State as 14 point dogs. Wyoming was taken out to the woodshed by Nebraska and they won an out of conference game vs. Northern Illinois.
Keys to the Game
· The Cougars are stout vs. the run so it is my belief that Wyoming will have to go to the air to aid their ground game. Cowboys quarterback sophomore Josh Allen threw for 2,996 yards including 26 touchdown passes. He is capable of exploiting the Cougars’ pass defense, as long as he doesn’t throw untimely interceptions, (he tossed 13 this season.)
· BYU gets the nod in the special teams department.
· Wyoming was 2–0 straight up and ATS vs. the two common opponents outscoring them by an average of 41 to 28.
· BYU went 1–1 straight up and 2–0 ATS vs. the same two foes and won by an average score of 27.5 to 19.0.
My First Bowl Selection
· I had UL–Lafayette at +7 and minus the extra juice and that was a smart move as I pushed with my first Bowl selection.
This Week’s Every Edge Selection
If this line was +13, I would back Wyoming as a medium sized wager but, it’s nowhere close to that number. My Every Edge selection for the Poinsettia Bowl is on the underdog Wyoming Cowboys at +10.5 points –120!