College Football Pick
The Arizona Wildcats and BYU Cougars will kick of their 2016 college football season on Saturday September 3rd in a Game that will be played at a neutral site, University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, AZ. The Game kicks off at 10:30pm est. and can be seen on FOX Sports-1. The Wildcats are currently a -1 point favorite at 5 dimes sportsbook with a total of 62.5.
One interesting tidbit for this Game is that the Game takes place just 130 miles from the University of Arizona Campus, yet BYU has sold more tickets! So much for any perceived home field advantage for the Wildcats!
Plenty of question marks for both teams coming into the 2016 season. For Arizona, this was a 7-6 team a year ago that needed a win over New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl to secure a winning season. Per usual, the Wildcats had no trouble moving the ball and putting points on the board in 2016. They were held to 3 points by Washington and held to 17 by Stanford. In every other Game last year, they pretty much lit up the scoreboard.
Of course, the problem with the Wildcats was on the defensive side of the ball, where THEY were lit up pretty much on a weekly basis. They brought in coordinator Marcel Yates from Boise State and it’s safe to say Yates has his work cut out for him. 4 of their 6 losses were by 15 points or more, so just a slight improvement won’t cut it. You can read Our Arizona Wildcats season preview here.
BYU’s season was a bit more successful than their opponents, going 9-4 and exhibiting much more consistency on both sides of the ball than Arizona, albeit against a slightly less difficult Schedule. While BYU returns a very healthy number of starters on both sides of the ball, including two very good QB’s, they aren’t without some big question marks heading into this season. Specifically, long time coach Bronco Mendenhall, who had the 2nd most wins in BYU history and never had a losing season, is gone and now at the University of Virginia. Kalani Sitake takes over as head coach, his first crack at running the whole show.
Not only is there a new head coach for BYU, but also new offensive and defensive coordinators. For the offense, it’s former Heisman winner Ty Detmer who will run the offense and also coach the QB’s. Detmers coaching experience? Head coach at St. Andrew’s Episcopal High SChool. The defensive coordinator is Ilaisa Tuiaki, who has been on the coaching staff at a couple of well known programs, but never as defensive coordinator. He will also be changing the defensive scheme to a 4-3. You can read Our BYU season preview here.
From a predictive standpoint, this Game becomes a crapshoot as a result of the coaching changes and additions for both teams, but particularly for BYU. For the Cougars, you’ve got a head coach, an offensive coordinator and a defensive coordinator with no experience in those roles. They have a tall task on their hands on a HUGE stage.
If all of the pieces to these two teams were intact and moving forward this season, we would definitely lean towards BYU in this spot mostly due to their having the better defense. In fact, Our model agrees and has BYU on top by 5 to 9 points. again, this is using last years data and assuming all things would remain the same. We know that’s not the case.
As a result, we’re going to side with Arizona here with the feeling being that this Game will be won from the sidelines with Rich Rodriguez and his staff likely outcoaching the newcomers at BYU. Arizona -1