Pick – Analysis
This Game features a matchup of two surprise teams that already have a couple upsets to their name in the young season. Virginia finished with just two wins last year, yet improbably fought with UCLA in the opener and just took down ranked Louisville last weekend. BYU has a monster road win at Texas and according to ESPN’s FPI rankings, have the best chance of anyone at finishing the season undefeated. The Cougars opened as -16 point favorites and that has shot down to -14 in midweek at 5 Dimes sportsbook.
It can’t be forgotten that while the Cavaliers only had two wins last year, one of them was against this BYU team. It was an ugly Game for both offenses, as Taysom Hill completed just 32.5% of his passes and they couldn’t get much going on the ground either. Virginia wasn’t any better, but still got the win.
Looking at Virginia’s Games so far this year, they still like to play grind it out football that produces close Games. They lost to UCLA 28-20 and beat Louisville 23-21. BYU only beat Houston 33-25 last Saturday, but that big road win at Texas shows potential.
Even with an undefeated record against the spread thus far for the Cavs, they are still two-touchdown underdogs here.
The name of the Game will be stopping Taysom Hill, which no one has done yet. Hill is averaging more than 100 yards per Game on the ground with six rushing TDs, while also putting up decent passing numbers. He’s not an elite passer by any means, as seen in his 4 TDs and 3 INTs, but he is completing 68% of his passes. Running back Jamaal Williams has also been solid with 228 yards on the season.
Virginia stopped this offense a year ago, but with the way the Cougars are playing now, can they do it again? The defense of the Cavs deserves some credit with what they’ve done so far, that’s for sure. If they can limit Hill in the rushing Game again, that will change things immediately for the BYU offense.
On the other end, BYU’s defense definitely has an edge, as Virginia isn’t a huge threat offensively. Still, this team has moved the ball well against solid defenses. Greyson LAmbert (2 TDs, 3 INTs) is the starter, but Matt Johns has played decently when given time (3 TDs, 2 INTs). LAmbert’s goal for the first half will be to not turn it over. If he doesn’t lose the ball, Virginia can stay in the Game. Their run Game is mediocre as well with Kevin Parks. Even with the questions on offense, the Cavs seem to fight in every Game.
This is going to be a rough Game, and the team that covers will probably have the least amount of turnovers. Virginia has stopped Taysom Hill before, which is a main reason the spread has shot down, as well as their stout defensive play this season.
The Cavaliers have covered five straight Games, but are only 1-7 ATS in their last eight following a straight up win. That one win was last weekend. The Cougars are only 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight overall and 2-5 ATS in their last seven vs. the ACC. Most of the trends for both teams point to the under here, especially for BYU.
The Cavs won a simple home Game against a decent opponent last week. Yet, the crowd stormed the field as if Virginia just won the National Championship. This was a 2-10 team a year ago. What you have to be leery of here is a big time letdown. It’s a textbook spot for that to happen. The cross country trip doesn’t help any.
So we’ll make two recommendations here. BYU -14 or better and UNDER 50