BYU Cougars (6-5) vs. Cal Bears (7-4)
Sam Boyd Stadium - Las Vegas, NV
Line: Cal -8
Matt - BYU +8
I've only seen BYU play once this year. Against the Irish. But i came away pretty damn impressed. John Beck looked good against the Irish (i could probably look half way decent against Mike, Leo and the boys, but regardless) and if Todd Watkins could have figured out a way to catch the ball with his hands around his neck (yes, ND fans, that was Mr. Watkins choking and not blanket coverage by the secondary) the Cougars would have hung around a little longer. Meanwhile, i watched the much ABC hyped Cal - USC showdown and couldn't have come away less impressed with Cal. I know Joe Booya is on the pine after his pitiful performance and Sportscenter host Steve Levy has been summoned to Qb, but i can't get excited about this Bears team and their ability to exploit BYU's weak secondary. Maybe it's because of my skepticism of all things PAC-10 not named USC. I don't know. But i do know that Cal ranks 76th in pass defense, lost at Oregon and at UCLA, and at home against Oregon St and USC in their only games against decent competition. Meanwhile, BYU hung 50 on TCU (so the defense gave up 51. So what) 62 on Air Force and 55 against UNLV on the very same field they will be playing on. Couple that with the fact that the game is in a hotbed of Mormonism (it's true, i don't know why but apparently the Mormons flock to Vegas - the game is sold out!) and Bronco Mendenhall is on his way to having Cougar fans everywhere saying Lavell who?
(By the way, if there is a better named stadium combination in America than Sam Boyd Stadium and the Thomas and Mack Center i haven't come across it. My first and only time in Vegas, i was more in awe of the T+M Center than the strip. Driving by it i could only think of him and him and him. Yeah, and then we hit the Bikini Club and all thoughts of UNLV circa 1991 quickly evaporated. If ND ever has a 6-5 year and ends up in the Las Vegas Bowl I think i would fork over more money for that ticket than I just did for my Fiesta Bowl tix.)
BYU 34 Cal 31
Wager: Still to come, look for my first parlay of the Bowl season...
Doug: BYU +8
Awfully tempting for me to just respond with "Ditto" because I agree with virtually everything that Matt had to say.
This game is free money as far as I'm concerned. Maybe there's more respect for the Pac 10 out there than I thought, but the line seems out of whack.
I was impressed with BYU as well. Beck throws a nice ball, and their front seven was decent against the ND running attack. I know Herbstreit wets himself just thinking about Marshawn Lynch, but I think BYU can keep the Cal running game in check. BYU probably had the worst corners that ND faced all year, but Cal's QB situation is so shaky that I don't see them exposing BYU through the air.
If you actually took the time to match up recruiting rankings and everything, I'd take a guess that BYU has equal "material" (to use a Beano Cook word) to Cal. I know Tedford is a quality coach, but in the end, it's Cal. Not exactly a hotbed of talent flocking to that program. BYU probably has similar personnel to Cal, if not better.
Another factor at work here. Motivation. Looking back at previous Las Vegas Bowls, the Mountain West has acquitted itself well in these games. BYU seems to be on the upswing as a program, so this could be a big statement game for them.
Let me get this straight. Mormons love Vegas? Who knew? Do they just buy all the Celine Dion tickets they can get their hands on?
I like BYU to cover and pull the "upset" as well.
BYU 24 Cal 20
Under - 61
BYU - 13th 464 ypg
Cal - 31st 424 ypg
BYU - 46th 157 ypg
Cal - 10th 234 ypg
BYU - 8th 306 ypg
Cal - 90th 189 ypg
BYU - 22nd 33.45 ppg
Cal - 26th 32.73 ppg
BYU - 78th 28.73 ppg
Cal - 26th 20.55
BYU - 46th 139 ypg
Cal - 26th 121 ypg
BYU - 105th 273 ypg
Cal - 76th 236 ypg