2015 NCAAF Bowl-Saturday games preview Part 2



- Utah and BYU ((9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) are set to renew their bitter rivalry Saturday afternoon at the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. These in-state adversaries didn’t play each other this year or in 2014, but they’ll play five years in a row starting in 2016. As of Thursday, most books had Utah installed as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 52 points.

– Utah has won four in a row in this series, taking the cash in each of the last three. The Utes are 5-1 against the Cougars both SU and ATS in the last six head-to-head meetings, including a 20-13 win two seasons ago as seven-point underdogs. The ‘over’ has hit in two of the last three encounters.

– Utah (9-3 SU, 5-7 ATS) won its first six games against a tough schedule, one that featured five bowl-bound teams including Oregon and Michigan. The Utes blasted the Ducks 62-20 in Eugene, but their first setback would come at Southern Cal (42-24). They lost twice more in November, falling 37-30 at Arizona and 17-9 vs. UCLA.

– Utah looked sloppy in the regular-season finale, a 20-14 ho-hum win over Colorado as a 16.5-point home ‘chalk.’ Joe Williams ran 34 times for 187 yards and one TD.

– Utah has failed to cover the number in three straight games and five of its last six. The Utes have been single-digit favorites four times, going 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS in those instances.

– Kyle Whittingham’s team will have to face the Cougars without star senior RB Devontae Booker, who is ‘out’ due to a knee injury that kept him out of the last two regular-season games. Booker rushed for 1,261 yards and 11 touchdown while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He also 37 receptions for 318 yards and threw a 25-yard TD pass on his only aerial attempt. As a junior in 2014, Booker earned first-team All Pac-12 honors after rushing for 1,512 yards and 10 TDs. Without its workhorse back, Utah lost at home to the Bruins and posted the aforementioned win over CU.

– Williams has filled in well for Booker, posting back-to-back 100-plus yard rushing performances. In the loss to the Bruins, the juco transfer who started his career at UConn, rushed for 121 yards and 26 totes. For the season, Williams is averaging 4.9 YPC.

– BYU won six of nine games against bowl-bound opponents. The Cougars’ scalps include Nebraska, Boise State, UConn, San Jose State, Cincinnati and Utah State The defeats came at UCLA (24-23), at Michigan (31-0) and at Missouri (20-16).

– BYU got off to an inauspicious start in August when star RB Jamaal Williams was lost to a season-ending suspension. Then in the first half of the opener at Nebraska, Heisman Trophy candidate Taysom Hill suffered a season-ending knee injury. Nevertheless, Bronco Mendenhall’s squad beat the Cornhuskers thanks to a Hail Mary pass from Tanner Mangum on the game’s final play. Mangum rallied BYU past Boise State at home in Week 2, connecting on a long TD pass on a fourth-and-seven play in the final minute.

– Mangum has completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 3,062 yards with a 21/7 TD-INT ratio. Mangum’s favorite target is Mitch Mathews, who hauled in 52 receptions for 729 yards and 11 TDs. Devon Blackmon had 43 catches for 572 yards. Algernon Brown emerged as BYU’s top RB, producing 697 yards and 11 TDs with a 5.7 YPC average.

– BYU cruised to victory in its regular-season finale at Utah State, blasting the Aggies by a 51-28 count as a three-point road favorite. Mangum connected on 16-of-30 throws for 284 yards and four TDs without an interception. Brown rushed for 68 yards and one TD on 16 carries, while Mathews brought down six catches for 158 yards and two TDs.

– Utah senior QB Travis Wilson has had a mediocre season, throwing only 13 TD passes compared to 10 interceptions. He has completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 2,022 yards.

– Utah WR Kenneth Marshall was listed as ‘questionable’ earlier this week, but he was upgraded to ‘probable’ after practicing on Thursday. Marshall has 38 receptions for 448 yards and four TDs. Britain Covey has made a team-high 41 catches for 518 yards and four TDs.

– Totals have been an overall wash for the Utes (6-6), though we’ll note back-to-back ‘unders’ to close the regular season.

– Totals have been an overall wash (6-6) for the Cougars, but they have seen the ‘over’ cash in back-to-back contests.

– BYU hasn’t been an underdog since September when it compiled a 3-1 spread record and collected a pair of outright victories from the ‘dog role.

– Utah is bowling for a second straight season after thumping Colorado State 45-10 as a 2.5-point fave at last year’s Las Vegas Bowl. The Utes has missed the postseason in 2012 and 2013 when they went 5-7 in consecutive seasons. They have a chance to post their first 10-win campaign since entering the Pac-12 in 2011 and it would be their first 10-win season since 2010, which was the third year in a row of double-digit win tallies (2008-2010).

December 19, 2015 by : Posted in College Football No Comments

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