The Cougars are a really good football team. They destroyed South Florida on the road – after a tumultuous history against the Bulls – and beat Baylor at home by a touchdown. The Cougars are in a good spot with quarterback Jaren Hall and the most experienced roster in the FBS.
Oregon clearly had to blow off some steam in Week 2, dropping 70 points on Eastern Washington after an embarrassing performance against Georiga. I’m not putting too much stock in that result.
I’m worried about Oregon in this spot. Am I justified in thinking that?
Let’s break it down. Read on for our BYU Cougars vs Oregon Ducks odds, picks, and predictions.
BYU Cougars vs Oregon Ducks
After BYU’s impressive win over Baylor, this game moved from Oregon -5.5 to Oregon -4. Sharp money has come in on BYU, and the Cougars are now at +3.5 across the market.
I’m leaning strongly towards BYU here with the hook but need to look at it deeper.
The over has taken the sharp money, moving up about two points from the opener of 56 earlier in the week. With these two offenses, I’d lean towards that side as well.
BYU Cougars vs Oregon Ducks Prediction & Pick
Is BYU a College Football Playoff team?
There’s a chance. Eight starters returned on offense including a top-10 offensive line and quarterback, while all 11 starters returned on defense including the top nine tacklers. The team rocked South Florida, beat Baylor, and this is likely their toughest test of the season.
Outside of Oregon (road), BYU’s toughest opponents will be Notre Dame (neutral field without the Irish starting quarterback), Arkansas (home), East Carolina (home), and Stanford (road). The next two games after this week are Wyoming and Utah State. The Cougars get Utah Tech later in the season.
I don’t know where or when the Cougars slip up. If the Cougars win this game, they probably run the table.
However, that result depends on two questions.
First – is BYU as good as I think they are?
The rushing game has been phenomenal, as Cal transfer Christopher Brooks has rushed for 166 yards on 6.4 yards per carry. But while BYU has created a lot of explosive runs, they haven’t been as consistent from a Success Rate standpoint – that includes ranking 112th in Rushing Play Success Rate.
All-in-all, the defense has played well, allowing just 4.3 yards per play overall. They’ve been great against the pass and in Standard Downs but have failed to get off the field on third down and have been just okay against the run.
Quarterback Hall has made just three Big Time Throws to three Turnover Worthy Plays, and his play has been questionable despite solid numbers.
All-in-all, there are a lot of questions to answer. But it’s clear that if coach Kalani Sitake can put the pieces together, this ceiling is incredibly high.
Second, can the Cougars actually win this game?
It’s impossible to make any conclusions about Oregon following their first two games. So, instead, I’m going to trust the projections.
Bill Connelly’s SP+ makes the Ducks just 1.2-point favorites. I’d put this line right around Oregon -2.
I’m expecting a field goal game, so I’ll take the hook. I’m also happy to fade quarterback Nix and back the more experienced team (on both sides of the ball).
BYU Cougars vs Oregon Ducks Key Matchups
Key Matchup No. 1: Bo Nix vs Himself
Nix is the most mercurial quarterback in the nation. He can go from embarrassing against Georgia to incredible against Eastern Washington. That seems obvious against the two levels of defenses, but the good Bo Nix can beat Alabama and the bad Bo Nix can lose to anyone.
BYU is an experienced and competent defense with plenty of continuity. They will put up a fight. Nix has to fight back and put up a quality start if the Ducks want to win this game.
Key Matchup No. 2: Oregon’s Rush Game against BYU’s Defense
BYU allowed 152 yards to Baylor on the ground, but the Bears needed 52 carries to get there. But there isn’t an excellent quarterback for Baylor, so the Bears needed the ground game to compete.
Well, if Nix can’t get it done, then the Ducks rush game will have to step up. The Ducks always have a talented offensive line and there’s some young talent in the backfield, so it’s possible.
The Cougars’ defense is still a question mark for me, especially against the run. So, I’m interested to see which side comes out on top.