San Jose State
College Football Pick
No one saw this game having much importance coming into the season, but San Jose State has become relevant with an 8-2 record. Their biggest win came at San Diego State two months ago and that wasn't the first sign the Spartans could be a troublesome team for opponents. In their first game of the year, SJSU went to Stanford and lost by just three points.. As for BYU, they've been mostly disappointing. The Cougars only win of significance came in a 6-3 win at home over Utah State. Yeah, there was just nine points in that game. For most of the season, their offense hasn't really been able to come through in big games.
When these team's faced off last year in Utah, the Cougars managed a 29-16 win, but SJSU was able to cover as 14.5-point underdogs. This time around, BYU is still slight 3-point favorites but will have a tougher task on the road in San Jose.
If the Spartans want to win, they'll have to figure out how to put points on the board against the seventh best scoring defense in the nation. So far, they haven't really had trouble scoring, even against solid defenses like Stanford, San Diego State and Utah State (27 point average in those games). First year starting QB David Fales has been the reason for that. In the big games, he's stepped up to the plate and done what was needed. They may have lost big to Utah State, but they still scored 27 points, the most the Aggies have allowed all season. In that game, Fales threw for 467 yards and three TDs. Fales has 25 TDS and seven INTs on the year to go with 3,126 yards. He has two WRs that he looks for often in Noel Grigsby and Chandler Jones who have combined for 100 receptions and 16 TDs. Their ground game isn't great which may be their biggest problem against BYU. De'Leon Eskridge has a couple 100-yard games, but in their losses, he hasn't done much (29 yards at Stanford, 58 yards vs. Utah State).
BYU has a good defense, but they also have hiccups as seen when they allowed 42 points to Oregon State at home. This game may fall on the shoulders of Cougars QB Riley Nelson who hasn't done well in big games this year.
Nelson managed three TDs in last year's tilt, but he also threw two interceptions. In BYU's four losses, Nelson has six TDs and nine INTs. Limiting turnovers will be very important in this game as they'll want to keep Fales off the field. Nelson will look to his top WR Cody Hoffman often in the passing game. Hoffman is averaging 95 yards and eight receptions in his last five games and had three TDs last week against Idaho. The Cougars like to run the ball to limit Nelson's mistakes, but aren't all that successful at it. They average just 4.2 yards per carry as a team. The positive is that starter Jamaal Williams averages 5.3 yards per carry and has 10 TDs. The freshman took over as the starting running back in Week 5 and has given some hope to the Cougars rushing game.
BYU stands at 7-1 ATS in their last eight road games and 8-2 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The Spartans are just as good, going 6-1 ATS vs. a team with a record and 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games overall. The over has hit five times in the Cougars last seven road games and is 4-1 in SJSU's last five home games.
On paper this one may look a little closer than it actually is. San Jose has a nice record and has had a nice season. They have also had one of the weakest schedules in college football. Yes, they played Stanford to within a field goal. But that was in August, the first game of the year where a team like San Jose who throws the ball frequently may have an edge over opposing defenses. They also beat a pretty good San Diego State team, so we have to give them some credit. San Jose is a capable football team.
But since beating San Diego State back in September, they have played one legitimate opponent, Utah State, and they were blown out by 20 points. BYU on the other hand, has had no such vacations other than playing Idaho last week. While San Jose has been playing teams like Texas San Antonio and New Mexico St, BYU has been playing Notre Dame, Oregon St, Utah St and Georgia Tech. When BYU takes the field this week, they'll find some of the things they couldn't do against those stronger teams, will suddenly work. On the flip side, San Jose should find things much more difficult this week against a legitimate BYU defense.
Our model likes BYU by a touchdown when using season to date stats and by 18 points when using only the last 5 games (that's a direct result of the cupcake schedule). BYU has 6 wins and is bowl qualified, but a win this week, and a guaranteed win next week against New Mexico St will give them 8 wins which is plenty of motivation. The better team gets it done here. BYU -3