It isn’t often the consensus favours an outsider over a Power Five conference school. That’s the case in Saturday’s scrap between Brigham Young’s Cougars and the Washington Huskies, kicking off at 8:30 Eastern.
Brigham Young remains an independent after poising itself for a Big 12 expansion that never materialised. Regardless, Kalani Sitake’s squad is playing strong football. Their lone defeat came against Cal, when they lost by a field goal. They responded by eking out a similar victory over Wisconsin. Sitaki’s the first Tongan college football head coach, an appropriately independent, open-minded decision from the Mormon school. So far, he’s paying dividends.
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Washington is also 3-1 despite not receiving the same love from the betting public. After a season-opening defeat to Auburn, victories came over Utah, Arizona State and North Dakota.
The Cougars claim three from the past four meetings, with the Huskies winning the last. That was in 2013, however.
So far this season, BYU’s 3-1 Against The Spread. Washington’s only been on the right side of the line once.
It’s a big line. Washington are giving away 17 points. They failed to cover in their one match in that scenario this campaign, beating North Dakota 45-3 when the line was 46. On the other hand, BYU took care of your business against McNeese State, beating their Football Championship Subdivision opponent 30-3 against a 24.5 point spread. As big underdogs [+23.5] they upset Wisconsin 24-21. That result’s driving the action heading into this tilt.
Should it? ATS action says yes. BYU’s running 5-0 ATS away from home. Meanwhile, Washington’s 0-5 ATS in their last five games outside the PAC-12.
On the other hand, you should about the under. Consistently low scoring against the total from two strong teams suggests a close game. The Cougars went under in every game this season. Likewise the Huskies, who haven’t gone over in their last six September games or the last five times after holding an opponent to less than 275 yards total offence. Chris Petersen’s squad held Arizona State to 269 in their 27-20 win last week.
Both teams list several players as questionable but no key players are missing for either.
Each side’s ranked high in total defence, Washington 17th, BYU 28th. In each case, that’s down to the secondary. BYU ranks just 61st in run defence while Washington’s 64th. Expect the two teams to pound each other into submission. Cougars senior Squally Canada has 322 yards on 61 carries for a solid 5.3yd/carry average. The Huskies main man, Myles Gaskin logged 1300-yard seasons in his first three years. He’s on a subpar 357 yards this campaign, averaging a yard less per carry than Canada.
Unless Gaskin has a breakout game, the signals favour BYU.
Martin Palazzotto is a freelance writer and author of strange bOUnce, a collection of sport fiction.