Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Pick: Western Michigan vs. BYU
Western Michigan Broncos (7-5 SU, 4-8 ATS) vs. BYU Cougars (6-6 SU, 8-4 ATS)
When: Friday, December 21st, 2018 – 4:00 PM ET
Where: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Albertson’s Stadium – Boise, ID
Point Spread: WMU +12 / BYU -12
Power Ratings: BYU -7
Takeaways From The Regular Season
Western Michigan enters in off a 28-21 win at home against MAC Champion Northern Illinois on November 21st to culminate their efforts. The victory ended a three-game losing streak for the Broncos and gave them a bit more credibility as a bowl selection. A handful of 6-6 teams missed a bowl game this year due to lack of vacancies and a fourth consecutive loss against the Huskies would have likely put WMU out of commission to extend the bid to another party in better form.
The Cougars last outing was one they would like to forget as they squandered a 20-point lead in the annual “Holy War” with cross-state rival Utah on November 24th. The Cougars had the Pac-12 South Champion Utes on the ropes until Utah outscored 28 unanswered from the end of the third quarter onward to shock Brigham Young.
How the Public is Betting the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
As a whole, the consensus seems divided as 53% like the Broncos in this spot. The market opened with the Cougars spotting a range between 11 to 12 points to the Broncos, and the line has not gone above the -12 point at any juncture since its open.
The Broncos and the Cougars have not met since 1970 when the Broncos defeated the Cougars 35-17, hosting BYU in Kalamazoo.
A central plot line in this bowl game is Western Michigan’s star quarterback Jon Wassink sitting on the sideline due to tore ligaments in his right ankle. The injury resulted in WMU finishing the season without their prime offensive catalyst.
When Western Michigan Has the Ball
The Broncos are owners of one of the most productive offenses in America as they are 29th in the land in total offense compiling 448.8 yards of total offense per game. WMU also puts up a 36th-ranked 33.2 points per game to complement this. This is a football team that leans more so on a 33rd-ranked rushing attack that compiles 205 yards per outing. The bad news for the Broncos and perhaps their Achilles heel is the fact that their defense gives a 103rd ranked 33.3 points per game which in the final analysis showcases that the Broncos get slightly outscored in the average fixture. However, 214 of the 400 points that WMU gave up this season came against just four opponents that consisted of Power Five constitution and/or opposition owning prolific offenses in Syracuse, Michigan, Toledo, and Ohio.
When BYU Has the Ball
By no means can we declare BYU a team that owns a prolific offense as they possess a unit that collates a 108th-ranked 354.8 yards of total offense per game. This is a Cougars team that also sits 94th overall in scoring as they accrue just 25.4 points per fixture. Brigham Young relies heavily on their defense that sits 18th nationally in total defense giving up just 325 yards per outing. BYU’s defense also only gives up 21.7 points per game (28th in the FBS). Running back Lopini Katoa is the bright spot of this offense as he has found the end zone on nine occasions in 2018.
Against the spread, these two teams enter in contrasting form. The Cougars have covered in their last four fixtures to close out their regular season while Western Michigan ended a three-game skid against the spread with an outright upset of NIU as a 6.5-point underdog to conclude their 2018 campaign. Overall, Western Michigan is 2-6 ATS in their previous eight games.
The forecast for the day of the game is a cold one with temperatures expected to range between the upper 30’s and lower 40’s. Conditions are expected to be partly cloudy with a 79% chance of precipitation.
Keith’s Pick to Cover the Spread: Western Michigan +12
The price dictates the play here as Scores and Odds have suggested we are getting five extra points then we need to work with here. As a result, there is tremendous value in backing the Broncos. However, the absence of Wassink would impel takers to fade Western Michigan, and the line here, as a result, is an overreaction to that injury. The Broncos did not win a game without Wassink since the injury until they finally defeated Northern Illinois in the aforementioned season finale. However, many would also suggest that NIU treated the game as a dress rehearsal albeit the fixture meant nothing to the Huskies as they prepared for their MAC Championship appearance against Buffalo the week after that. Nevertheless, two years ago Western Michigan made history when they were the first MAC team to appear in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game in the Cotton Bowl so you can rest assured that the upperclassmen on this team won’t even bat an eye at a team with a legacy like BYU. The Cougars were contained by the NIU as mentioned earlier Illinois on their own turf in Provo this year when they hosted the Huskies and fell 7-6. Takers can rest assured that Western Michigan will circulate this content as motivational material for this affair.