College Football Betting Preview: Virginia Cavaliers at #21 BYU Cougars

Virginia Cavaliers at #21 Brigham Young Cougars
LaVell Edwards Stadium – Provo, Utah
Saturday, September 20, 2014, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: BYU -13 1/2
Current Line: BYU -14 1/2
Opening Total: 51 1/2
Current Total: 49 1/2
Opening Money Line: BYU -760 / Virginia +580
Current Money Line: BYU -700 / Virginia +500

BYU looks to avenge an upset loss from last season, as they host the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday.
BYU looks to avenge an upset loss from last season, as they host the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday.

One of the biggest surprises in this young 2014 college football season has been the Virginia Cavaliers who have already equaled their two wins from last season just 3 games into the season. The Cavaliers have a near upset of a then #7 UCLA team 28-20, and last week Virginia did beat then #21 Louisville 23-21. Both of those were at home though, and now the Cavaliers must travel a long way to the mountains of Provo, Utah to take on the 3-0 #21 Brigham Young Cougars Saturday. Virginia and East Carolina are the only two FBS schools to face three top 25 teams in the first 4 weeks of the season.

This is the fifth meeting between BYU and Virginia. The Cavaliers lead the series 3-1, including a 19-16 upset at home in the season opener last year. That game was played in a a driving rainstorm and featured a two hour lightning delay after the first quarter. Virginia has not won a game west of the Mississippi River since a 1999 win in Provo against BYU.

Virginia is coached by Mike London, and the Cavaliers are 2-1. The record also includes a 45-13 win over Richmond. Virginia is 3-0 ATS and the total is 1-2 this season. The Cavaliers were 4 point underdogs against Louisville and the total was 44.5.

BYU is coached by Bronco Mendenhall. The Cougars have blowout road wins at Connecticut 35-10 and Texas 41-7. Last Thursday, BYU won their home opener 33-25 against Houston. BYU is 2-1 ATS and the total is 1-2.

Virginia is outscoring teams 29-21 this season. The Cavaliers are averaging 334 total yards per game including 203 passing and 130 rushing yards per game. Virginia is 96th or worse in all three categories out of 128 FBS teams nationally. On defense, Virginia is allowing 354 total yards per game including 269 passing and 85 rushing yards per game. The Cavaliers are #17 nationally in rush defense but #97 in pass defense. Virginia is +5 in turnovers with 13 takeaways. The Cavaliers average 35 penalty yards per game and opponents average 54. Virginia is 24/56 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 21/52. The Cavaliers have forced 12 sacks and allowed 4 this season. Virginia is 10/12 scoring in the red zone with 6 touchdowns, and opponents are 7/8 with 5 touchdowns. Virginia allowed 3 defensive touchdowns against UCLA and has one of their own this season.

Virginia has used two quarterbacks this season. Greyson Lambert has completed 67.7% of his passes for 376 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Matt Johns has completed 57.1% of hos passes for 228 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and has also rushed for 25 yards. Running back Kevin Parks has 52 carries for 173 yards and a touchdown, along with 4 catches. Taquan Mizzell and Khalek Shepherd will also get some carries. Mizzell has a rushing touchdown and 14 catches. Darius Jennings has 8 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. Canaan Severin has 11 catches for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns. Miles Gooch has 7 catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.

BYU is outscoring teams 36-14 this season. The Cougars are averaging 490 yards per game including 230 passing and 260 rushing yards per game. BYU is allowing 313 yards per game on defense, including 258 passing and 54 rushing yards. BYU is #3 nationally in rush defense and #24 in total defense nationally. The Cougars have forced 6 turnovers and allowed 4 this season. BYU is averaging 96 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 79. The Cougars are 24/50 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 19/54. BYU has allowed 11 sacks and forced 8 sacks. The Cougars are 13/14 scoring in the red zone with 10 touchdowns, and opponents are 7/11 with 4 touchdowns.

BYU quarterback Taysom Hill is putting up some early numbers that could make him a Heisman contender if he keeps it up. Hill has completed 68.4% of his passes for 689 yards with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and has also rushed for 356 yards on 62 carries with 6 touchdowns. Running back Jamaal Williams has 47 carries for 228 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 2 catches. Running back Adam Hine has only 13 carries but has 2 rushing touchdowns,  plus a receiving touchdown. Receiver Jordan Leslie has 15 catches for 186 yards. Mitch Mathews has 13 catches for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Virginia is 5-0 ATS overall and on grass, 4-0 against teams with winning home records and against teams with winning records, 4-9-1 in non-conference games, 2-5 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 3-9-1 in September, and 1-7 after a straight up win.

BYU is 3-1-1 ATS at home, 6-2 after allowing 280 passing yards or more, 20-7 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 5-2 in September, 2-5-1 overall, 2-5 against ACC teams, 1-3-1 on grass, 1-4 after a straight up win, 1-5 after rushing for more than 200 yards, and 0-3-1 after gaining more than 450 total yards.

Both of these teams have great run defenses but struggle against the pass. This should be a low scoring game but BYU is better on offense. I think the Cougars win but Virginia keeps it close.

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