College Football Pick: UNLV vs. BYU -25

Darin Zank

Friday, November 14, 2014 5:11 PM GMT

BYU picked up its first victory and cover last time out since losing its starting quarterback for the season. The Cougars shoot for a second straight win/cash, and bowl-eligibility, when they host UNLV Saturday night in Provo.

Rebs-Cougars Betting Odds
Most of the college football odds market opened BYU at -24 over UNLV, with a total of 63. Most books then bumped the Cougars to -26, and dropped the total to 62.

Those who believe UNLV could pull the upset here could get a price of +1500 on the Rebs on the moneyline at Sport Bet.

 

Rebs-Cougars: The Situation
With 14 starters back from a team that went 8-6 last year BYU went off this season with a wins OVER/UNDER of 9.5. But Taysom Hill's injury threw a wrench in the works, and at 5-4, with just three games left on the schedule, the Cougars will not play OVER their total.

BYU opened the season 4-0, with wins over UConn, Texas, Houston and Virginia. But the Cougars' whole season changed in a 35-20 loss to Utah State, in which they lost QB Hill for the season to a broken leg. BYU then lost three more in a row, at Central Florida in overtime, at home to Nevada and at Boise State. Two weeks ago the Cougars snapped that losing streak with a 27-7 victory at Middle Tennessee, covering as three-point road favorites. BYU then had last week off.

The Cougars outgained the Blue Raiders 444-228, while getting a nice performance from QB Christian Stewart, who threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns. Since taking over for the injured Hill Stewart has completed 58 percent of his passes, while compiling a 10/5 TD/INT ratio. Since losing Hill BYU has been outgained in three of five games.

On the other side of this match-up UNLV, with 13 starters back from a team that went 7-6 last year, went off this season with a wins OVER/UNDER of 5.5. But with just two victories so far, and just three games left on the schedule, the Rebels will not be headed back to a bowl, and will not play OVER their total.

UNLV opened this season with a 58-13 loss at Arizona, then beat Northern Colorado, then lost four in a row, to Northern Illinois, Houston, San Diego State and San Jose State, going 1-3 ATS in the process. The Rebs then upset Fresno State 30-27, winning outright as nine-point home dogs. But since then UNLV has lost three more in a row, by scores of 34-20 to Utah State, 31-28 to New Mexico and, last week, 48-21 to Air Force.

The Rebels got outgained by the Falcons last week 542-339, gave up 386 yards on the ground and lost time-of-possession by a 37/23 margin. That's probably why they couldn't cover as four-point home dogs. On the season UNLV has been outgained in eight of 10 games, and outrushed in nine of 10.

 

Rebs-Cougars Recent History
These former conference rivals used to meet every season, but this will be the first meeting since 2010. BYU has beaten UNLV six times in a row, most recently four seasons ago, when the Cougs routed the Rebs 55-7 in Provo, covering as 19-point favorites.

 

Rebs-Cougars Betting Trends
UNLV is 4-6 on the totals this season, even though Rebs games have averaged 57 points.

BYU is 6-3 on the totals, as Cougars games have averaged 59 points.

 

Rebs-Cougars Injury Update
BYU is already playing without Hill, and leading rusher Jamaal Williams is now also out for the season with a knee injury.

On the other side of the field, UNLV quarterback Blake Decker, who's thrown for 2,400 yards this season, run for 300 and accounted for 15 touchdowns, is suffering from a sore hip and his status for Saturday is uncertain.

 

Rebs-Cougars Free Pick
Weather could play a factor in this game; the forecast calls for temps in the 30s, windy and a chance of snow. But that possibility doesn't really affect our college football pick on this gme.

Stewart has improved since first taking over behind center for BYU, and he's had an extra week of practice. UNLV, on the other hand, isn't sure if Decker can go, and the Rebs defense is allowing more than 500 yards per game. So while we don't usually like to go with the betting flow, we do like the Cougars to win this game, with room to spare for the cover.

Free College Football Pick: BYU -25.5 at The Greek