Poinsettia Bowl Pick
Unlike a lot of bowl Games, this one actually features former Conference foes with Wyoming and BYU meeting 77 times prior to this one. The Cougars lead the series 44-30-3 and opened as large -8.5 point favorites at 5 Dimes Sportsbook for the Poinsettia Bowl.
BYU is the favorite mainly because its Schedule was harder. The Cougars finished with just Four losses and those came by a combined eight points. But they don’t exactly have a nice win on the Schedule with Michigan State, Mississippi State and Arizona having down years and a 55-53 win over Toledo may be the only other relevant one.
But how relevant is Wyoming? The Cowboys weren’t good in non-Conference play, getting blown out by Nebraska and losing at Eastern Michigan. Sure, they figured things out in MWC play, but then faltered in three of their last Four Games. Maybe the most troubling thing is that they gave up 69 points to a Four-win UNLV team in three overtimes (17 points in overtime).
In like opponents, Wyoming beat Boise State 30-28 and Utah State 52-28, both at home. BYU lost at Boise State 28-27 and beat Utah State 28-10 at home. From those results, there’s not a whole lot to separate the two teams.
The biggest question for the Cougars is how they’ll look with backup quarterback Tanner Mangum after Taysom Hill went down in the regular season finale. Mangum has experience, so that’s a bonus, but will sitting on the sideline all season hurt his value? He threw for 23 TDs and 10 INTs while completing just under 60% of his passes back in 2015. Those numbers are actually better across the board than what Hill did this year. Still, it’s something to think about.
At the least, BYU has running back Jamaal Williams who’s averaging 5.6 yards per carry in his senior season and has 11 touchdowns. The difference between Hill and Mangum is that Hill has the mobility advantage.
That said, this Wyoming defense really struggled throughout the season and allowed 34.8 points per Game. BYU’s offense isn’t great, but neither were a lot of teams that Wyoming gave up a ton of points to. It’ll be up to the Wyoming offense to at least cover for the Cowboys.
It’s been a nice turnaround for Wyoming, especially after almost having a shot at the MWC championship. A lot of that has to do with what sophomore quarterback Josh Allen has been able to do. He’s set to reach 3,000 passing yards to go with 26 TDs and 13 INTs. Those aren’t amazing numbers, but it’s been enough for a team that hasn’t been to a bowl Game since 2011.
Of course, Allen has plenty of help. Running back Brian Hill is having another great season with 1,767 yards and 21 touchdowns. In the receiving Game, Tanner Gentry stepped up for 1,213 yards and 12 touchdowns.
But how effective will this group be against a BYU defense that hasn’t allowed more than 10 points in their last Four Games? OUtside of a couple slip-ups earlier in the year, this defense has been great in the final couple months. Holding Michigan State to 14 points and Miss. State to 21 is also pretty impressive.
Wyoming has scored on every defense except Nebraska and that will be their hope to win or cover here.
Both teams have been solid against the spread this season with BYU at 9-3, mostly because none of their losses were by more than three points. Wyoming had a rough start to the year, but is 7-2 ATS in its last nine.
Our Pick – BYU -8.5