NCAA Football Free Preview: Western Michigan Broncos at BYU Cougars

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The BYU Cougars (-12) are entering the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl as considerable favorites against the Western Michigan Broncos. Kickoff for this key game is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET and ESPN will televise the action.

Betting Preview: Western Michigan Broncos vs. BYU Cougars

Western Michigan is a big underdog in this game and is currently getting 12 points. In order to take the home favorite, moneyline gamblers would currently have to put down $500 to win $100 back on the Cougars (-500). The Broncos are getting +350 moneyline odds. Oddsmakers have placed the over/under (O/U) at 48.5 points. If BYU gets behind early, it will probably create a solid in-game betting scenario.

The betting odds have swayed slightly from where they initially opened. The line opened at 12.5 while the game’s total was placed originally at 48.

The Broncos are 4-8 against the spread (ATS) and are down 0.6 units this season. The team has posted an O/U record of 6-4-1.

The Cougars have lost 3.0 units for moneyline bettors in 2018. They’re 8-4 ATS and have an O/U record of 3-9.

The Broncos have gone 7-5 straight up (SU) in 2018 while the Cougars are 6-6 SU.

The Broncos enter after a 28-21 win over Northern Illinois on November 20. Kaleb Eleby completed just 19 passes on 35 attempts for 285 yards. LeVante Bellamy (only 52 yards on 15 rush attempts) and Jamauri Bogan (63 yards on 14 carries, two TDs) led the ground attack in the win while D’Wayne Eskridge (six receptions, 123 yards) and Jayden Reed (six catches, 85 yards) manned the receiving duties.

BYU just lost 35-27 to Utah. The defense allowed the Utes to kill the clock by running for 155 yards on 37 rush attempts, including three rush TDs. Jason Shelley had a good showing for Utah, recording 61 rushing yards and a score on 11 attempts. For BYU, Zach Wilson completed 20-of-29 passes for 204 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Matt Hadley (64 rushing yards on 21 attempts, two TDs) and the signal-caller Wilson (73 yards on 14 carries) led the ground game in the defeat as Bushman (six receptions, 92 yards, one TD) and Neil Pau’u (four catches, 28 yards, one TD) led the pass-catching attack.

Western Michigan has run the ball on 59.5 percent of its offensive possessions this year while BYU has an overall rush percentage of 55.9 percent. The Broncos have rushed for 204.6 yards per game and have 30 scores via handoffs this year. The Cougars are totaling 154.9 rushing yards per game and have 24 total rush TDs.

If 2018 results can translate to this game, then it’s looking like the Broncos ought to hold an edge when it comes to quarterback protection. Their offensive line has allowed only 22 sacks while their D-line registered 20 sacks. The Cougars, on the other hand, have given up 26 sacks and their defense has forced only 17 sacks.

The Broncos offensive scheme has logged 242.6 yards/game in the air overall and has 20 passing TDs so far. The Cougars have put up 199.6 pass yards per outing and have 14 total pass scores.

Defensively, Western Michigan has allowed 168.7 rush yards and 209.3 pass yards per game. The BYU defense has allowed 195.6 yards per game to opposing passers and 129.4 yards per game on the ground. The Cougars are allowing an adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A) of only 5.04 to opponents, while the Broncos have given up a 7.33 ANY/A.

Passing-wise, Eleby has amassed 730 yards this season. He’s connected on 52-of-82 attempts with three passing scores and two interceptions. He has a 6.57 adjusted net yards per pass attempt, including 6.50 over the last two outings.

We expect the Broncos to control the pace by pounding the defense with their running backs. LeVante Bellamy (959 rush yards, five rush TDs, one receiving TD) and Jamauri Bogan (597 rush yards, 13 rush TDs) have delivered in the Western Michigan offensive scheme.

Zach Wilson has connected on 90-of-138 passes for 1,089 yards, eight TDs and three INTs for BYU. His ANY/A sits at 6.46 for the season and 5.63 over his last two outings.

The Cougars will also try to dictate the game’s pace by turning to their backfield. Along with Matt Bushman (402 receiving yards, two receiving TDs), Lopini Katoa (423 rush yards, eight rush TDs, one receiving TD) and Matt Hadley (328 rush yards, four rush TDs) have gotten a multitude of touches lately.

Western Michigan Broncos vs. BYU Cougars NCAA Prediction

SU Winner: BYU, ATS Winner: BYU, O/U: Under

Team Betting Trends

  • Western Michigan has averaged 3.7 yards per rush attempt over its last three games and 4.0 over its last two.
  • BYU has averaged 5.0 yards per carry over its last three contests and 4.8 over its last two.
  • The BYU offense has lost nine fumbles this season while Western Michigan has lost 10.
  • The Broncos offense has produced 10 pass plays of 40+ yards, while the Cougars have accounted for five such plays.
  • The Western Michigan defense has allowed seven pass plays of 40 yards or more, while BYU has given up three such plays.
  • The Western Michigan offense has created 17 rushing plays of 20 yards or more, while BYU has created 16 such runs.
  • The Broncos defense has allowed 18 rushing plays of 20 yards or more, while the Cougars have given up seven such runs.
  • The Western Michigan defense has 28 sacks on the year while BYU has 24.