Wisconsin Badgers vs. BYU Cougars
Date and Time: Saturday, September 16, 2017, 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Clemson, SC
Opening College Football Odds: Wisconsin -13
Wisconsin vs. BYU TV Coverage: ESPN
The Cougars have to wonder what in the heck went wrong this year. Tanner Mangum was supposed to be able to step right into the starting quarterback role and lead this team to a slew of points. Instead, the Cougars have scored a total of just 33 points in three games, and they have averaged just 231.7 yards per game, No. 126 in America.
Squally Canada has been a brutal disappointment as a lead tailback, and he effectively didn't even play against Utah in a 19-13 loss last week. Kavika Fonua got his most running plays of the season with his eight carries, but he turned that into just eight yards.
The end result? The BYU defense is being put into ridiculously bad situations. It's a miracle this unit allowed just 19 points to the Utes and kept that a game throughout in spite of the fact that the Cougs surrendered 436 yards of offense.
Wisconsin has had a pair of squash matches early in the season against Utah State and Florida Atlantic, and this is going to be the team's first real test on the national stage against a team that, in spite of its troubles, has the talent of a Top 25 squad.
Alex Hornibrook is doing what he needs to do for Wisconsin. His 445 yards and four touchdowns are good enough, especially since he has thrown just one interception on 51 pass attempts.
Jonathan Taylor is doing the rest. On just 35 carries in two games, Taylor has picked up 310 yards and four touchdowns, and he appears to be the next great Wisconsin back in line to put up humongous numbers.
Matchup To Watch
Bend but don't break. That's been the motto for this BYU defense all season long. This unit, though, is going to be up against it versus the Wisconsin ground game.
The Badgers probably aren't going to average anywhere near six yards per carry in this game as has been the case for the rest of the season, but anything in the high fours could spell trouble for BYU. The Cougars let Utah rumble for 3.6 yards per carry while giving up 5.2 yards per tote against LSU. It's that latter type of number that turns close games into blowouts, and that's what BYU flat out has to avoid.
Wisconsin vs. BYU Free Picks
There's just too much value here to not bet on BYU. The Cougars are going to be underdogs at home at all of the top online sportsbooks, and the public is going to be all over Wisconsin. The Badgers have looked great against bad teams. The Cougs have looked bad against good teams. Though that formula doesn't always translate into covers for the underdogs, it's usually a good indication of some great value.
We're just dying for Mangum to come up with a good game, too. We don't get it with the junior. As a freshman, he averaged 7.6 yards per pass attempt and threw 23 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. You can't possibly tell us that two years later, we can expect his completion percentage to come down by five percentage and watch his TD/INT ratio deflate to 2/4.
This is a winnable game for BYU regardless as to what the betting lines suggest. It's hard to have an incredible amount of confidence right now in the Cougars, but we're going to take the plunge anyway.
College Football ATS Pick: Play BYU at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: BYU 23, Wisconsin 18