BYU Cougars (6-2 SU, 6-2 ATS) vs. San Jose State Spartans (4-4 SU, 5-3 ATS)
College Football Week 10
Date/Time: Friday, November 6, 2015 at 11:30PM EST
Where: Spartan Stadium, San Jose, California
TV: CBS Sports
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BYU -12/SJSU +12
Over/Under Total: Off
In Friday action, the 6-2 BYU Cougars look to make it five in a row when they make the trip to NoCal to take on the San Jose State Spartans. BYU emerged from a frenzied first month of the season and have steadied the ship with 4 straight wins. They carry some good momentum into this game. San Jose State, meanwhile, has alternated wins and losses each game since week 2. Both teams last played on the 24th, entering this game with a little extra rest. In their last game, BYU battered outmanned Wagner, 70-6, while San Jose State beat New Mexico by 10.
It was interesting to see how BYU would spin out of an ultra-difficult beginning to the season. It started with a Hail Mary win on the road against Nebraska, as the Cougars became the first team to beat Nebraska at home in their opener in 29 years. They followed that with a win over a then-ranked Boise state team. Then, they marched into the Rose Bowl, falling a single point short of beating another team that was highly-ranked in UCLA. A weary Cougars squad then marched into Ann Arbor, getting shut out by the Wolverines. At that point, it looked like the Cougars were a weary bunch, also battered by personnel issues, as their starting quarterback and running back both went down for the season with injuries.
The way BYU rose up from that early-season hardship was impressive. After a tough road stretch, they got 4 straight games at home. They dug in their heels, got fed some easier opposition, and took care of business in winning all those games. They now take to the road again, but after such stern tests to open the season, playing at San Jose State, while difficult, should be easier for the Cougars. They are a road-tested and battle-tempered team entering the late stages of the season.
Brigham Youngs depth has paid off handsomely. QB Tanner Mangum has stepped in and produced admirably, with Taysom Hill going down early this season. After losing Jamaal Williams and Adam Hine to injuries, they are down to their third back, as Algernon Brown has managed to be productive with 7 touchdown runs. BYU benefits from a deep receiving crew, where big-body receivers create major matchup issues to teams like San Jose State. Mitch Mathews is having a big year, as are Nick Kurtz, Mitchell Juergens, and Devon Blackmon. Above all, this offense has shown a lot of character and grit by fighting through a ton of costly injuries.
The BYU defense has been leaky on occasion, but thats also a byproduct of the teams theyve played, where theyre facing dangerous offenses seemingly every week. Within that context, the defense really hasnt been all that bad. This is a battle-tested group and more often than not, they tend to be pretty good when the game is on the line or when they need a big stop. Theyve taken some setbacks this year, but at the end of the day, theyve done their job. Its a group that can come up with big plays in a pinch and play well late in the game, having been whipped into shape by the rigors of the season. Again, when reviewing this BYU team, there are things that dont show up in the statsnamely their grit, determination, unity, and character.
San Jose State is sitting at 4-4, needing to do some work if they hope to become bowl-eligible. You could say that theyre playing somewhat according to form this season, winning games theyre supposed to, while falling to teams that were favored to beat them. Their losses have been forgivable ones for what is basically a middling Mountain West entitydropping games to Air Force, Oregon State, San Diego State, and then Auburn on the road.
When tuning in on Friday, youll see a San Jose State team that can actually be pretty tough at home. They have the best pass-defense in the country statistically, giving up a meager 122 yards per game, though they have played a lot of teams that prefer to run the ball. And in that area, the defense labors, giving up an average of 225 yards per game. Look for BYU to make the Spartans pass-defense look a little less formidable than what the numbers would suggest. Defensively, theyre not that strong, frankly, giving up 28 points per game.
The San Jose St. offense can be pretty peppy. They have a terrific back in Tyler Erwin, who has 14 touchdown runs on 1159 yards running. QB Kenny Potter relies heavily on Erwin, as the Spartans aerial attack lags. The passing game is occupied by guys who will make spot plays here and there, but they lack a real playmaker aerially. Against the better MWC teams, however, the offense struggled, and thats worth noting as they prepare to face perhaps their best opponent of the season. The Spartans are a bit unproven offensively when facing better teams.
Its easy to overlook a San Jose State team in this spot. BYU has been in some highly-visible showcases this season, all of which were particularly memorable. San Jose State, meanwhile, has been operating more off-the-grid. But its not an easy spot, going from Utah to San Jose for a Friday game and if BYU is off their best, San Jose State is a good enough team to spoil. BYU will probably win, but I see the Spartans staying at least vaguely in the game for the cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the San Jose State Spartans plus 12 points.
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