BYU Cougars vs. Tennessee Volunteers Pick 9/7/19
BYU Cougars (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date and Time: Saturday, September 7, 2019 at 7PM EDT
Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee
Point Spread: BYU +3.5/TENN -3.5 (BetNow)
Over/Under Total: 51
The BYU Cougars come to Neyland Stadium to face the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday in Knoxville. Neither team can be that thrilled about what happened last week. Granted, BYU had a rough battle with in-state rival Utah but were expected to be more competitive than losing 30-12. But that pales to what happened to Tennessee, losing at Neyland 38-30 to Georgia State of all teams. In falling by 8 points while being 24.5-point favorites, the Volunteers showed that there are still issues-galore in Knoxville. Can they rebound and restore some faith playing again at home? Or will BYU show better form in week two and score a morale-boosting road win?
How Bad is Tennessee?
It depends on how you look at it, but their first act of 2019 was an unmitigated disaster. Georgia State won two games last season in the Sun Belt and to lose to a team like that at home is disgraceful for a once-proud program. Then again, a lot of teams that went on to have decent seasons have slipped coming out of the starting blocks and sometimes to a team you wouldn’t expect. But in a season where they were looking to turn things around, for them to collapse late and let Georgia State steal a win is a damning indictment where rebounding might not be that easy. Georgia State never beat a team from a Power Five conference before and one of their two wins last season was over Kennesaw State.
The fans at Neyland looked sleepy, and when droves left at halftime, the huge cavernous stadium looked a bit depressing. Support is waning. Jarrett Guarantano put up some numbers at the QB position, with 311 yards, but two fourth-quarter turnovers played a significant role in the shock-defeat. There is some talent at the skill positions. RB Ty Chandler ran for a TD, with Jauan Williams catching balls for 108 yards and a TD. Marquez Callaway also caught a TD pass. But they were battered on both sides of the line of scrimmage. And that won’t go over any better in this matchup unless something changes.
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BYU Better Than They Looked in Week 1?
It’s safe to say that the Cougars underperformed in week one with a non-competitive week one loss to the Utes at home. After a promising freshman season, Zach Wilson is supposed to come out strong this season, and with no TDs and two picks against Utah, he didn’t carry the load. Wilson returns with a lot of existing talent, including a nearly-intact offensive line. One of the losses was a good tackle, and that area didn’t look great against Utah. Almost all the top receivers from last season remain, and perhaps they just ran into a good Utah team last week, against a defense that might give a lot of teams trouble in ’19. When watching the game, though, there were some issues with the play-calling on offense, where it seemed too safe and a bit tone-deaf.
Getting a little boost on the defensive side of the ball will help. The front seven was supposed to be better after last season’s youth movement, but it didn’t look it in week one, with Utah’s running-game going for 262 yards, including 187 yards for Zack Moss. The Utah offense moved well and efficiently against the BYU defense. All four starters from the BYU secondary are back and though Utah QB Tyler Huntley went 13-for-16, allowing 106 yards and no TDs shows they seem up-to-snuff at this level. That could be a case of Utah just opting to run more, an area where there was sometimes stunningly-little resistance.
What can Tennessee Do About It?
Granted, they have issues, but there is abundant talent on the Tennessee sideline when it comes to offense. Guarantano can air it out, even if he was erratic in the week one loss. He has a pretty deep receiver crew with some speedsters. No standout backs have distinguished themselves yet, but if week one were any indication, the Tennessee cabaret of backs with Ty Chandler, Eric Gray, and Tim Jordan could have some pep. BYU looks pretty ragged in the middle, so if the Tennessee backs can somehow get rolling, they could rack up a bunch of first downs. But after getting their butts kicked by Georgia State, could this be a better spot for the BYU offense to show some of their considerable upsides? This doesn’t get easier for Tennessee. And with their work along both lines of scrimmage not looking like it’s up to SEC standards, will the bulky BYU fronts push them around?
BYU had big hopes entering the season. To open with two subpar performances would be a bitter pill to swallow. Sure, a loss to a tough Utah team in a matchup where they usually fall short is understandable. But they have what appears to be a negotiable foe in Tennessee this week, and the feeling will be that they need to deliver after looking so flat a week ago. Tennessee, however, could find themselves completely in the dumps already if they don’t deliver this week. A good showing would put some distance between them and the shameful loss on Saturday. In other words, expect to see two teams on Saturday who will be as good as they can be.
Pounce on the Cougars
There is a danger here of placing too much stock in a first-game loss for the Volunteers or perhaps in overestimating BYU who did look bad last week. And this is a tough place to play for a Utah-based team. But remember—BYU beat Wisconsin on the road last season. I happen to think week one shows the Volunteers for what they are. I don’t question that they’ll have some big plays in this game, but I see BYU unveiling their potential in this game, as they muscle Tennessee on the line of scrimmage and get a good game from Wilson at quarterback. I’m taking the Cougars.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:
I’m betting on the Brigham Young Cougars plus 3.5 points at 5Dimes where you save money with every bet their -105 style lines.