College Football Week One Picks: BYU Cougars at Connecticut Huskies
Brigham Young Cougars at Connecticut Huskies
Rentschler Field – East Hartford, Connecticut
Friday, August 29, 2014, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: BYU -17
Current Line: BYU -16 1/2
Opening Total: 51
Current Total: 50 1/2
Opening Money Line: BYU -950 / UConn +625
Current Money Line: BYU -700 / UConn +500
The BYU Cougars and Connecticut Huskies meet for the first time ever Friday night in East Hartford, as the two teams open the 2014 season against each other. The Huskies will travel to Provo next season. This is the second straight season BYU travels to the east coast for their season opener as they were upset by Virginia last season.
BYU is coached by Bronco Mendenhall, now in his 10th season as Cougars’ coach. BYU went 8-5 last season and lost to Washington 31-16 in the Fight Hunger Bowl. Fourteen starters are back for BYU including 8 on offense. The Cougars averaged 226 passing yards and were #10 nationally in rushing at 267 yards per game. On defense, BYU allowed 219 passing and 160 rushing yards per game. BYU outscored opponents 30-22 last season.
Connecticut went 3-9 last season. Head coach Paul Pasqualoni was fired after four games, and T.J. Weist served as the interim coach for the rest of the season. Weist was not hired for the permanent position, and the Huskies hired Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco as the head coach. Thirteen starters are back for UConn including 7 on offense. The Huskies averaged 234 passing yards and only 84 rushing yards per game. on defense, Connecticut allowed 249 passing and 135 rushing yards. UConn was outscored 30-21 last season.
Senior BYU quarterback Taysom Hill is back after an exciting junior year. He threw for 2,938 yards with 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. However, he was much more dangerous with his legs and he had 246 carries for 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns. He rushed for over 100 yards 6 times last season, including a monster 259 yard game against Texas where he rushed for 3 touchdowns.
Running back Jamaal Williams is also back. He had 217 carries for 1,233 yards and 7 touchdowns, and also had 18 catches. The entire offensive line returns to open holes for both Hill and Williams.
BYU must replace star receiver Cody Hoffman. Mitch Mathews, Ross Apo and Kurt Henderson all started at one point last season and and should be the go to receivers.
BYU must replace linebacker Kyle Van Noy who had 17.5 tackles for loss last season and 4 sacks. The defense should still be solid with six starters back though.
Connecticut used 3 quarterbacks last season in Casey Cochran, Chandler Whitmer and Tim Boyle. All three are back but Cochran was named the starter by Diaco after he led the Huskies to a 3-1 record in the four games he started. He threw for 1,293 yards with 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Whitmer and Boyle are available if Cochran struggles or gets hurt.
Leading rusher Lyle McCombs was kicked off the team in June. True freshman Arkeel Newsome will be the feature back. Last year’s back-up Max DeLorenzo who had 99 carries for 349 yards and 5 touchdowns is also back. The offensive line returns only one starter and could struggle.
Receiver Geramy Davis is back after he had 71 catches for 1,085 yards and 3 touchdowns. Deshon Foxx is also back after he had 43 catches for 534 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The UConn defense was last in the AAC in sacks and tackles for loss last season. The linebackers and secondary should be much improved from last year.
BYU is 7-1 ATS in August, 6-2 in Friday games, 1-3-1 on grass, 0-5 in road games, 0-4-1 in road games, and 0-3-1 in non-conference.
Connecticut is 4-0 ATS on grass, 4-1 at home, overall and against independent teams, and 1-4 in non-conference games.
Connecticut is not a very good team, but 17 seems like a lot for BYU to lay on a cross country trip in the first game of the season. I think BYU wins but Connecticut covers in a low scoring game.
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