No. 22 BYU Cougars (2-1 SU, 3-0 ATS) vs. Michigan Wolverines (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date/Time: Saturday, September 26th, 2015, 12:00 pm EST
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BYU +5.5/MICH -5.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
The BYU Cougars continue to run the gauntlet of a tough season-opening schedule with yet another game against a big-name opponent, but this time when the Cougars travel to the Big House of Michigan Stadium to take on Michigan Wolverines they will be the team ranked at No. 22 by the Associated Press.
Last week was the first time this season the Cougars failed to find their late-game magic that has sparked their early-season surge up the rankings, instead watching UCLA run in a late fourth-quarter score to hand BYU their first loss of the season, 24-23. But with Hail Mary upsets over Nebraska and Boise State already on their resume, BYU certainly qualifies as one of college footballs biggest surprises of 2015.
A lot of hype surrounded the return of coach Jim Harbaugh to his alma matter before the season has started, and he certainly has the Wolverines heading in the correct direction, but a less than inspiring, 28-7, win over UNLV last weekend in a game that closed with the Wolverines as 34-point favorites, has Michigan fans a little worried with the upset-minded Cougars coming to town.
Despite the early results on the field, BYU has yet to change the perceptions of oddsmakers and bettors in Las Vegas. The Cougars stronger resume of wins means little in Vegas, where the opening line for the non-conference battle in the Big House went up on the board with Michigan as 5-point favorites. The early steam has already moved it up the hook to minus -5.5 too at most sportsbooks. As of press time the total has yet to be released.
Even though they playing freshman Tanner Mangum at QB after yet another season-ending injury to Taysom Hill, the Cougars continue to plod along with solid results. Mangum has been solid (63%, 4 TD, 3 INT) since being pressed into duty, but UCLA may have provided everyone with the blueprint on how to beat Mangum and BYU keep him inside the pocket. The Cougars will also have to keep trying to reduce the pressure on him by using running back Adam Hine more, since the senior has a strong 6.1 yards per carry average that the Wolverines will be hard-pressed to contain.
Michigan QB Jake Rudock has played better in the last two games for the Wolverines than he did in the opener, but hes still thrown at least one interception in all three games and his limitations at the position are starting to limit the Wolverines ability on offense. The good news for Michigan is that Rudock shouldnt be needed much on Saturday, especially since the BYU defense is allowing 7.8 yards per carry on the ground this year and are coming off a game where UCLA pounded them on the ground for 296 yards rushing.
Forget that the Cougars are a perfect 3-0 ATS so far in 2015, but BYU is also 5-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games and 4-1 ATS in their last five on the road. Meanwhile, Michigan has had issues covering the number not only in non-conference games (1-4 ATS in L5) but also in September where they are a meager 1-8 ATS over the past few seasons.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I have to say, Im so surprised by the what I consider a big point spread that I wondering if this is a trap line. BYU is 2-1 and has played three ranked opponents thus far in 2015. Michigan is 2-1 also, but wins over winless UNLV and a way-down Oregon State team both in the Big House makes them almost a touchdown better than BYU? I dont get it. The talent difference between Michigan and BYU used to be that large, but the Wolverines havent had recruiting classes for a few years and the gap just isnt there by as much of a margin anymore. This may be a trap, but regardless, Im taking BYU and the +5.5-points in this one.
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