BYU AT UCLA
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Fox Sports 1
Las Vegas Line: UCLA -16.5
BYU makes its third appearance in the Saturday Six-Pack. Wouldn’t you know, I’m 0-2 picking Cougars’ games? It’s funny what a huge difference literally two plays can make.
If Nebraska or Boise State properly defends the Hail Mary, BYU is 1-1 (or 0-2) and perceived as a challenge, but no real threat to a Top 10 UCLA squad. As it stands, this is a Top 20 showdown with legitimate Playoff implications.
Credit BYU for being in position to make those plays against the Huskers and Broncos, though. Looking at the Cougars’ schedule preseason, I saw the very real possibility of an 0-4; they’ve already outperformed that by two wins.
Even more impressive is that BYU’s wins came with Taysom Hill sidelined. In the summer, I projected the Cougars to go as Hill went. Back-up Tanner Mangum has acquitted himself just fine in Hill’s stead.
Given the repeated whiffs on this BYU team, tread lightly with everything that’s to follow.
UCLA is the best team BYU will see this season. The Bruins’ swarming defense sustained a big loss when end Eddie Vanderdoes was lost for the season to a knee injury, but this is still one of the best front sevens in the nation.
Linebackers Myles Jack and Deon Hollins will bring consistent pressure on Mangum in pursuit of turnovers, much in the same vein as Boise State a week ago. The big difference between UCLA and Boise State, however: the Bruins have the offense to capitalize when the defense shuts down drives.
BYU is allowing just 2.79 yards per rush. Look for Paul Perkins to test that immediately before quarterback Josh Rosen attacks with the pass.
BYU took advantage of three interceptions thrown by Boise State’s Ryan Finley a week ago, all snagged by National Defensive Player of the Week Kai Nacua. Don’t expect a similar outing from Chosen Rosen.