The Cougars have been living the good life so far this season. Can they keep the train rolling against the UCLA Bruins in a big night game in Pasadena? Let's review the betting odds to find out.
The Cougars have more momentum than any other team in America which hasn’t won in blowouts. Winning a game by a huge margin and playing great offer the most momentum, but short of that, the next happiest kind of locker room is one in which a team pulls out one close victory after another. The amount of belief and trust in teammates and coaches goes through the roof when this happens. BYU has won two straight games with Hail Mary passes, and the extra remarkable thing about it all is that a backup quarterback threw the two passes. Tanner Mangum, replacing Taysom Hill, threw a last-play pass to beat Nebraska on the road, and this past Saturday at home against Boise State, he threw a lollipop fourth-down pass into the end zone, and it was caught in the middle of two Boise defenders for the winning score. BYU is at that point where it feels it can’t do anything wrong. The Cougars have to be outplayed until the very last second of a game.
UCLA has not played especially tough teams, but the Bruins are handling them just fine. UCLA worked past UNLV without too many problems last week. Quarterback Josh Rosen is still getting used to the offense, and he hasn’t had any major setbacks so far. As long as he continues on his present course, the Bruins should be reasonably pleased.
The College Football Odds have steadily held at minus-16.5 points for UCLA. This is a large line when you realize that BYU has beaten better opponents so far this season, but the explanation comes in the form of injuries. BYU is getting very shorthanded at a lot of positions. That kind of attrition just doesn’t bode well for the Cougars against a UCLA team which doesn’t have nearly as many issues on that front. The game is also at UCLA, which is certainly worth several points relative to Provo, Utah.
The Cougars have been hit hard by injuries this season. Quarterback Taysom Hill is out for the year. Tight end Colby Jorgensen is also out for the season. Defensive lineman Travis Tuiloma will not play in this game – he’s out for several more weeks but should return midseason. Linebacker Sione Takitaki is out indefinitely. Tight end Steven Richards is out for the season, as is running back Jamaal Williams. Defensive back Jordan Preator is questionable for this game, for undisclosed reasons.
UCLA is without defensive back and kick returner Ishmael Adams on an indefinite basis due to suspension, but it’s likely to be the whole season. Defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes is also out for the season with an ACL injury.
Handicapping The Game
The Cougars are beaten up, but UCLA might not be good enough to cover a fat spread. It feels as though UCLA will win by 10, not 20. Take BYU plus the points as your smart College Football Pick.
College Football Pick: BYU +17 at Pinnacle