NCAAF Week 8 Predictions: Battle-Hardened Cougars Keeping It Competitive

Brigham Young Cougars  players running into field

Monday, October 17, 2016 6:02 PM GMT

Boise State looks to avenge a 35-24 loss to BYU last season when it hosts the Cougars at Albertsons Stadium on Thursday night. Will fatigue play a factor? It’s the third game in less than two weeks for both programs. Read on to get your NCAAF picks ready.

 

BYU Cougars (4-3 SU, 4-2-1 ATS)              

The Cougars needed a Tanner Mangum Hail Mary touchdown pass and a late pick-6 to secure victory over Boise State last season. This year, expect to see a heavy dose of senior running back Jamaal Williams. Williams set the school rushing yardage record last time out, giving him 3,468 total in a BYU uniform. He ranks second in the nation in rushing yards (942) this season.

The defense is shocking the betting market in 2016. Although allowing 25.1 points per game, it’s held opponents below their projected team total in five of seven contests. Run stopping is what it does best, yielding 3.5 per carry (23rd in FBS)

 

Boise State Broncos (6-0 SU, 2-4 ATS)

Boise State is 6-0, moved to No. 14 in the AP Top 25 on Sunday, and is on the verge of stringing together another perfect regular season. It hasn’t played the toughest schedule to date, beating teams with a combined 16-19 record. BYU will serve as a good litmus test to see where the program stands.

Offensively, Boise State’s 6.7 yards per play are ninth most in the country. The passing attack is one of the most efficient in the country, picking up 9.6 yards per attempt against FBS opponents. The defense is just as effective against the pass, allowing 5.8 yards per attempt.

Its air effectiveness is set up by a great run game fueled by junior back Jeremy McNichols. McNichols has 775 rushing yards (ninth most) and his 11 rushing TDs are second most nationally. Head coach Brian Harsin’s unit also excels at protecting the ball. Its 6 giveaways (3 INTs, 3 fumbles) are tied for ninth fewest in the country.

The Broncos are just 11-24 ATS in their last 35 as home chalk, but have been asked to cover double-digit spreads in nearly all with an average -22.9 line. In fact, they are 16-0 SU and 15-1 ATS in their last 16 as single-digit home favorites. Boise State’s only failure to cover the number in this span was a 7-6 win over BYU as 6-point chalk back in 2012.

 

Brigham Young Cougars vs Boise State Broncos  

Boise State and BYU have faced off six times in the 2000s with the Broncos going 4-2 SU and 2-4 ATS as -6.5 favorites on average. The home team has won all but one of the meetings. Boise State owns a 6.1 average margin of victory in the six games, aided by two 20-plus point blowouts.

BYU’s offense is sputtering, but the defense can keep it in just about every game. The Cougars have held their own against one of the toughest schedules in the nation: West Virginia and Toledo were coming off byes, rivals Utah scheduled an FCS opponent prior to their matchup, a big road win at Michigan State and tough home tests against Mississippi State and UCLA round it out. The Broncos will likely pull out another victory, but not without the battle-hardened Cougars keeping it competitive. BYU +7 is the NCAAF week 8 pick.

 

Free NCAAF Pick: BYU +7

Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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