BYU vs Wyoming Poinsettia Bowl Odds, Expert Pick & TV Info
When: Wednesday, Dec. 21, 9 PM ET
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Opening NCAA Football Lines: BYU -10 (57.5)
Why Bet on BYU?The Cougars (8-4) lost four games by a total of eight points this season with one-point road losses at Utah and Boise State and three-point setbacks on the road vs. West Virginia and at home against UCLA And they won’t have starting QB Taysom Hill here. He won’t play in San Diego because of an elbow injury suffered in the regular-season finale against Utah State. Replacement Tanner Mangum gained experience a year ago, but the offensive load might fall on running back Jamaal Williams, who gained 1,165 yards in nine games — including a BYU-record 286 against Toledo. Hill passed for 2,323 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 603 on the ground and eight more scores. Nick Kurtz led the team with 46 receptions and 482 yards.
Mangum played in 13 games last year, starting 12. He completed 267 of 446 passes (59.9 percent) for 3,377 yards for the Cougars with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. This year, he is 14 of 18 for 145 yards with two touchdowns.
Defensively, BYU ranks 32nd in total defense while excelling at creating turnovers and stopping the run. The Cougars are No. 2 nationally in forced turnovers (29), including No. 4 in interceptions (19), and No. 6 in defensive touchdowns scored (4), while also ranking No. 8 against the run (108.4) and No. 15 in scoring defense (19.4). BYU’s special teams have also been strong, ranking in the top 25 statistically in six different categories.
The 2016 Poinsettia Bowl will feature the 78th meeting between the former conference foes. BYU holds a 44-30- 3 advantage in the series that dates back to 1922. The Cougars won the last meeting with a 25-20 victory in Provo in 2010. This year’s Poinsettia Bowl matchup will be just the second neutral site contest between the two schools BYU has won seven in a row in a series that dates back to 1922. But for decades, the schools competed as rivals in the Western Athletic Conference and Mountain West Conference before the Cougars became an independent in 2011. This will be the second time BYU has played in the Poinsettia Bowl. In 2012 the Cougars topped the hometown San Diego State Aztecs 23-6.
Why Bet on Wyoming?Wyoming (8-5, 6-2 MW) won the MW Mountain Division and finished as the league’s runner up after coming up just short in the MW title game, falling 27-24 to San Diego State. The Cowboys defeated the then No. 24 Aztecs 34-33 during the regular season. Wyoming also beat then No. 13 Boise State 30-28 earlier in the year to hand the Broncos their first of only two losses on the season. Wyoming held Boise State to just 2-of- 8 on third-down conversions and forced two turnovers, earning its first win over a top-25 opponent since 2002. The Cowboys played well as an underdog this year, covering the spread 86 percent of the time.
Wyoming boasts one of the nation’s top runners in Brian Hill, who ranks No. 6 in average rushing yards per game at 135.9 while ranking No. 4 in both rushing touchdowns (21), and total rushing yards (1,767). The Cowboys are familiar with facing backup QBs as they will here. Wyoming has faced backup quarterbacks throughout the 2016 season. Eastern Michigan, Colorado State, Nevada, Utah State and UNLV all played backups at some point in their games against the Cowboys.
Wyoming and BYU share two common opponents — Boise State and Utah State. The Cowboys defeated Boise State Laramie and also beat Utah State, 52-28, in Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium. BYU lost by one point, 27-28, on the road at Boise State. The Cougars defeated the USU Aggies, 28-10, in Provo to end the regular season.
The Cowboys have an all-time bowl record of 6-7. UW’s last appearance in a bowl game was the 2011 New Mexico Bowl, losing to Temple, 37-15. Wyoming’s most recent bowl victory came in the 2009 New Mexico Bowl, defeating Fresno State, 35-28 in double overtime.