College Football Week 5 Betting Preview: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at BYU Cougars

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Brigham Young Cougars
LaVell Edwards Stadium – Provo, Utah
Friday, September 27, 2013, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPNU
Opening Line: BYU -22
Current Line: BYU -21 1/2
Opening Total: 59 1/2
Current Total: 59 1/2
Opening Money Line: BYU -1250 / Middle Tennessee +845
Current Money Line: BYU -1600 / Middle Tennessee +1025

BYU is a 21.5 point favorite at home against Middle Tennessee Friday night.
BYU is a 21.5 point favorite at home against Middle Tennessee Friday night.

The 1-2 BYU Cougars host the 3-1 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Friday night in Provo. It is the first meeting between the schools, but BYU will make the trip to Murfreesboro next season.

Middle Tennessee is coached by Rick Stockstill. The Blue Raiders opened with a 45-24 win over Western Carolina, before losing at North Carolina 40-20. Middle Tennessee then beat Memphis 17-15 at home, and the Blue Raiders won at Florida Atlantic 42-35 in overtime last week. It was the Conference USA debut for both MTU and FAU after the two schools moved over from the Sun Belt. The Blue Raiders are 1-3 ATS this season and the total is 2-2. Middle Tennessee was a 3 point favorite against Florida Atlantic and the total was 49.5.

MTU and FAU exchanged touchdowns for the first 3 quarters, and the score was tied at 21 going into the fourth. The two teams each scored a touchdown to tie it up at 28. Middle Tennessee scored with 1:32 left in the fourth to take a 35-28 lead, but the Owls tied it up with 3 seconds left to send it into overtime tied at 35.

Florida Atlantic won the toss and elected to go on defense first in overtime. Middle Tennessee quarterback Logan Kilgore threw a 19 yard touchdown pass to Kyle Griswould. The Blue Raiders kicked the extra point to go up 42-35. Florida Atlantic was unable to score on their possession and MTU held on for the win. The Blue Raiders had 446 total yards including 296 rushing yards. The Owls had 503 total yards including 321 passing yards. FAU had 5 turnovers and Middle Tennessee had 2.

Middle Tennessee is outscoring teams 31-29 this season. The Blue Raiders area veraging 401.5 yards per game including 196 rushing yards. On defense, Middle Tennessee is allowing 433.8 total yards and 281.2 passing yards. The Blue Raiders are #94 in total defense and #106 against the pass. Middle Tennessee is +3 in turnovers with 11 takeaways. The Raiders are 31/66 on third and fourth down conversions. MTU has forced 13 sacks and allowed 9. The Blue Raiders are 12/18 scoring in the red zone with 11 touchdowns. Middle Tennessee has a punt return and a fumble return for touchdowns.

Kilgore has completed 60.7% of his passes for 729 yards with 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Back-up Austin Grammer has a touchdown and an interception in 17 snaps this season, along with 28 rushing yards and a touchdown. He could see some snaps if Kilgore continues to struggle with interceptions. Running back Jordan Parker has 86 carries, 435 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 6 catches for 13 yards. Reggie Whatley has  30 carries, 243 yards and 3 touchdowns. William Pratcher has 19 catches, 107 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receiver Tavarres Jefferson has 22 catches for 279 yards. Griswould has 14 catches 127 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with a punt return for a touchdown. Four Blue Raider defenders are listed as questionable or out for the BYU game.

BYU is coached by Bronco Mendenhall. The Cougars started off the season with a 19-16 loss at Virginia that was played in a torrential rainstorm. The Cougars then exploded for 550 rushing yards in a surprising 40-21 home rout over Texas. BYU lost last week at home to Holy War rival Utah 20-13. BYU is 1-2 ATS and the total is 1-2 as well. The Cougars were 7 point favorites against Utah and the total was 60.5.

Utah took a 13-=0 lead into halftime with a touchdown and 2 field goals. BYU got on the board with 2 third quarter field goals but still trailed 13-6 going into the fourth. Utah took a 20-6 lead early in the fourth. BYU pulled to with 20-13 with just over 5 minutes to go in the game. Utah had to punt, and BYU took over at their own 38 with 2:49 left. The Cougars drove to the Utah 38, but quarterback Taysom Hill threw an interception at the Utah 17. The Utes took over with 1:37 left but went 3 and out, giving BYU the ball back at their 48 with 32 seconds and no timeouts.  However, Hill threw four straight incomplete passes and the game ended.

BYU had 443 total yards including 183 rushing yards. Utah had 402 total yards and 16 first downs. The Hill interception was the only turnover of the game. The two teams did combine for 15 penalties for 120 yards.


BYU is outscoring teams 23-20 this season. The Cougars are averaging 494.7 total yards including the #8 rushing attack in the country at 306.7 yards per game. On defense, the Cougars are allowing 356.7 total yards per game including 233.3 passing yards and  123.3 rushing yards. The Cougars are -2 in turnovers with 2 takeaways. BYU is averaging 55 penalty yards per game. BYU has forced 5 sacks and allowed 8. The Cougars are 25/72 on third and down conversions and opponents are 12/54. BYU is 12/14 scoring in the red zone with only 5 touchdowns. That has been the main reason for the Cougars’ two losses as they had to settle for field goals far two many times in the losses against Virginia and Utah.

Hill has completed 35.1% of his passes for 564 yards with a touchdown and 3 interceptions. He is more dangerous with his legs though. Hill has 48 carries, 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. Running back Jamaal Williams is out indefinitely with a neck injury and a concussion suffered in the Utah game. Williams has 76 carries, 378 yards and 3 catches for 28 yards. Paul Lasike and Michael Alisa will split the carries without Williams. Each has a  rushing touchdown but no more than 25 carries for 113 yards. Receiver Cody Hoffman has 10 catches, 171 yards and no touchdowns. He has struggled so far despite being an All-American candidate in the pre-season. J.D. Falslev has 7 catches for 84 yards and the Cougars’s lone touchdown catch. Five BYU defensive players are out indefinitely or for the season including 3 defensive backs.

Middle Tennessee is 4-1 ATS against independent schools, 4-1-1 after allowing 450 total yards or more, 5-2-1 against teams with losing records, 5-2 in September, 6-13-1 after allowing 280 passing yards or more, 1-3-1 after rushing for more than 200 yards, 1-4 after scoring more than 40 points, 1-4-1 overall, and 1-4 at home.

BYU is 8-0 ATS after a straight up loss, 4-0 against Conference USA teams, 5-1 after scoring less than 20 points, 10-4 against teams with winning records, 9-4 after failing to cover, and 1-4 at home.

Without Williams, I am not sure if BYU can even score over 21 points even against a suspect defense like Middle Tennessee. Hill needs to be more consistent in the passing game in order for the BYU offense to improve. The defense is also banged up for the Cougars and it isn’t close to the dominant top ten unit the Cougars fielded last year. I think the Blue Raiders hang around for awhile, but BYU pulls away late for the win.


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