It’s a rare non-conference tilt on the gridiron as a pair of teams that have had disappointing campaigns take the field in the Golden State. The BYU Cougars are on the road as they travel to face the Stanford Cardinal Saturday night. BYU rolls in off a 52-26 home win over Utah Tech last Saturday though they failed to cover the line as a 38.5-point favorite in their previous contest. Stanford came up on the short end of a 27-20 decision on the road against Cal last Saturday in their most recent game, failing to cover as a five-point underdog in their most recent game. The Cardinal won the only two previous meetings between the schools, including a 37-10 triumph at home in the most recent matchup on September 11, 2004.
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BYU Cougars Seek Third Straight WinBYU won their second straight and became bowl eligible as they knocked off Utah Tech in their previous contest at home. The Cougars improved to 6-5 on the season and try to finish the regular season with three straight victories. Against Utah Tech, BYU struggled early, trailing 6-0 after the opening quarter, before scoring 28 second quarter points, though they led only 28-20 at the half. The Cougars played better in the second half, outscoring the Trailblazers 24-6, to earn the victory. BYU racked up a 676-420 advantage in total offense, held a 30-18 edge in first downs and controlled the clock by a 32:11 to 27:49 margin. Those numbers helped offset the fact that the Cougars committed a pair of turnovers while only forcing one in the game.
The Cougars enter this week 22nd in the nation in passing offense with an average of 282.4 yards per game through the air. BYU is 64th in rushing offense as they put up 156.9 yards per contest on the ground. The Cougars are 44th in the FBS in scoring offense as they put up 31.6 points a night this season. BYU is 105th in scoring defense as they allow an average of 30.4 points per game. Jaren Hall is 241 of 365 passing for 3,078 yards with 29 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is third on the team with 277 rushing yards plus a pair of scores on the year. Christopher Brooks leads the team on the ground with 88 carries for 565 yards and five scores this season. Miles Davis (40 carries, 225 yards) and Lopini Katoa (75 carries, 333 yards, two TD) contribute as the secondary backs in the system this season. Kody Epps (39 catches, 459 yards, six TD) and Keanu Hill (35 catches, 570 yards, seven TD) are two of the top targets in the passing game. Puka Nacua (team-high 45 receptions, 592 yards, five TD), Chase Roberts (21 grabs, 351 yards, three TD) and Brayden Cosper (26 catches, 337 yards, TD) are over the 300-yard receiving mark this season. Jake Oldroyd has hit 37 of 37 extra point attempts and eight of 13 field goals with a long of 45 this season. Justen Smith has connected on three of five extra points and hit his lone field goal attempt from 25 yards on the year. Cash Peterman converted his lone extra point attempt while not attempting a field goal on the year.
Stanford Cardinal Trying to Salvage Finale in Lost SeasonStanford lost their fourth straight game as they were beaten by Cal in the latest edition of the Big Game last week. The Cardinal enter this game 3-8 overall and stand just 1-8 in the Pac-12, leaving them in the basement of the conference standings. Against Cal, Stanford led 10-6 after the opening quarter and at the half: their margin grew to 17-6 after three quarters before the wheels fell off. The Cardinal ended up being outscored 21-3 in the fourth quarter to take the loss though they drilled a meaningless field goal as time expired to push the game over the total and create a bad beat for those who had the under. Stanford held a 400-393 edge in total offense, picked up a 22-19 advantage in first downs and owned a 33:54 to 26:06 margin in time of possession. Both teams turned the ball over twice but the Cardinal allowed a scoop-six as part of that fourth-quarter outburst that cost them the game.
On the year, the Cardinal are tied for 48th in the nation in passing offense as they average 248.5 yards per game through the air and 113th in rushing offense with an average of 112.3 yards per contest. Stanford is 109th in the FBS in scoring offense with an average of 20.9 points per game while they are 113th in scoring defense by allowing 31.9 points per contest. Tanner McKee has completed 233 of 386 passes for 2,634 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions on the year. Ari Patu is six of nine for 65 yards plus two scores and eight rushing yards. Ashton Daniels is four of five for 34 yards plus 155 yards and two scores on the ground. E.J. Smith is second on the team in the ground game with 30 carries for 206 yards and three scores. Casey Filkins (122 carries, 478 yards, four TD) has taken over the lead back role as Smith is done for the season. That pushes Mitch Leigber (46 carries, 154 yards, TD) and Caleb Robinson (26 carries, 91 yards) into the mix on the ground. Elijah Higgins leads the team with 52 receptions for 627 yards and two scores this season. Benjamin Yurosek (47 grabs, 426 yards, TD), Michael Wilson (26 receptions, 418 yards, four TD), Brycen Tremayne (27 catches, 360 yards, two TD) and John Humphreys (29 grabs, 348 yards, TD) are other competent options in the passing game. Joshua Karty has hit all 24 extra point attempts while connecting on 16 of 16 field goal attempts with a long of 61 this season.
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Full-Game Side Bet
Stanford has gone nowhere fast this season and it’s going to be an uphill climb for them in this contest, even playing at home. The Cardinal have struggled to move the ball with any regularity and they lack the ability to slow down anyone defensively. After all, we just saw them give up 21 fourth-quarter points to a Cal team that we know is offensively challenged. Stanford gives up 212.3 yards per game and 5.9 yards per carry on the ground this season, which can be exposed by BYU. The Cougars have gotten back on track down the stretch and should have little problem earning the victory here on the road.
Full-Game Total Pick
BYU has seen the over post a 7-4 record in their 11 games this season. The Cougars have split their four road games this season in relation to the total but they have seen at least a combined 48 points in each of those games entering this one. Stanford has seen the over post a 6-5 record in their 11 games on the year. The Cardinal have gone over the mark in three of their five home games on the season. Three of their last four games at home have exceeded the number. BYU has the ability to light up Stanford’s defense and while the Cougars’ defense has sputtered at times, that should be enough to edge this one over the number.