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Utah hosts BYU Saturday night in a game that can be seen on ESPN2 at 10 pm est. BYU is currently favored by 4 at 5 Dimes with a total of 54.5. The betting trends at sportsbook.ag show us that 78% of the bets taken thus far on this game have come in on the side of BYU.
This game took a sudden turn of events in the past week. It was set to be a big in-state showdown between the two teams until Utah State took down Utah in overtime 27-20. In addition to the loss, Utah's Senior QB, Jordan Wynn, injured his shoulder for the fourth time and is calling it quits in the sport.
Jon Hays is a possibility to take over, but as seen against Utah State, he's not the same player. Wynn has a career completion percentage of just over 60% while Hays is five points below that at 55%. That's why Freshman Travis Wilson also has a chance at starting for Utah on Saturday. He's more raw, yet he would add another dimension to the offense with his legs.
In last year's meeting, Utah destroyed BYU in Provo, 54-10. These teams are playing a lot different than a year ago. Not only is Wynn gone, but their offensive line is struggling with injuries and has noticeably underperformed this year, which explains the Wynn shoulder injury.
The Utes won convincingly in their first game, but that was against Northern Colorado. Their loss to Utah State was the first in their past 12 meetings with the Aggies. Utah will lean heavily on their running game due to the quarterback situation. Running back John White is the player you need to know about. Utah force feeds him as he already has 51 carries for 215 yards this season. In last year's meeting with BYU, he was a beast going for 174 yards and three TDs.
The BYU run defense has been solid this year, but that is mostly due to weak opponents. Washington State didn't even try to run on the ball on them, while Weber State was somewhat able to move the ball on the ground. Their team average was 2.7 YPC, but Weber State actually finished with two ball carriers that gained a total of 144 yards on just 22 totes. John White will need to have a big game for Utah to keep up with BYU.
Riley Nelson will lead BYU into battle. Through two games, he has thrown for 529 yards at a 66.2% completion rate with three TDs. Those are respectable numbers, but not outstanding. Expect him to find his WR/TE duo of Cody Hoffman and Kaneakua Friel with frequency. Combined, they have totaled 20 grabs for 292 yards and four touchdowns. In the backfield, Michael Alisa will get most of the work. Still, he has just 24 carries for 107 yards this season.
While 2011's meeting was a blowout, this rivalry tends to be rather close. Including last year, five of the past seven games between these two teams have been decided by seven points. Utah has won the last two home games, although they were also sizable favorites in those games.
Going back to last year in all games BYU 8-1 against the spread while Utah is just 4-5 in that same time period. The under has hit six times in the last seven meetings between the two and this could be another low-scoring game. Utah will come in fired up after last week's loss and while their offense may not be lighting it up, their defense has shown in recent history that they can stop BYU.
BYU has had this game circled since last year's debacle. It sets up nicely for them as well, due to Utah's QB troubles. It may not be 54-10, but BYU should get their revenge here and should also cover this number in the process. BYU -4
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