Editor's note: Brian Edwards is off to a 21-11 start (66%, +897) in college football, so don't miss out on his pick pack for Saturday or tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
After nearly pulling an upset on the smurf turf behind an inspiring defensive performance in a 7-6 loss at Boise St. last Thursday, Brigham Young returns home Friday night to take on Hawaii at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
As of Thursday afternoon, most betting boards had BYU (2-2 straight up, 2-2 against the spread) installed as a 27 ½-point favorite with a total of 50. The offshore book 5Dimes had the Warriors available on the money line for a lucrative 25/1 return (risk $100 to win $2,500).
Bronco Mendenhall’s team couldn’t overcome five turnovers, a horrible performance from its starting quarterback or Mendenhall’s poor decision to go for a two-point conversion against the Broncos. Nevertheless, the Cougars hooked up their backers and covered the number as six-point road underdogs.
Riley Nelson completed 4-of-9 passes for only 19 yards and was intercepted three times. Mendenhall yanked Nelson in favor of promising freshman Taysom Hill, who has outstanding running skills. His mobility provided an immediate spark, as he rushed for 72 yards on 12 carries, including a four-yard touchdown scamper with 3:37 remaining.
The two-point conversion pass failed. I can understand Mendenhall feeling as if his team was fortunate to have a chance to win and, therefore, wanting to try and steal the victory in a one-play scenario.
But with no timeouts left, once the decision was made to go for two, it became an absolute given that if the conversion failed, you had zero choice but to attempt an onside kick. For starters, a three-and-out was the only way BYU would get the ball back. And even if BSU had good field position following an onside attempt, it still wasn’t going to try a field goal for a four-point lead. (Hell, Chris Petersen had passed on field-goal attempts and gone for two four times already!)
Obviously, Mendenhall decided to kick it deep and BSU got a first down and then melted the clock for the win.
Hawaii (1-2 SU, 1-1 ATS) is looking to bounce back from an embarrassing 69-24 loss to Nevada as a seven-point home underdog. The Warriors trailed by only three (20-17) when quarterback Sean Schroeder threw his second touchdown pass midway through the second quarter, but the Wolf Pack responded with 42 unanswered points.
Norm Chow’s team picked up its only win of the season when it trounced Lamar by a 54-2 count in a non-lined affair on Sept. 15. Schroeder threw three TD passes without an interception, while John Lister rushed 10 times for 50 yards and a pair of scores.
Hawaii’s other game was a season-opening 49-10 loss at USC. The Warriors took the cash as 44 ½-point underdogs.
As of Thursday, Nelson was listed as ‘doubtful’ with a back injury and Hill was expected to get his first career start. Senior DE Eathyn Manumaleuna is ‘out’ with a back injury.
BYU has won eight of the last nine head-to-head meetings against Hawaii, including last year’s 41-20 win as an eight-point road favorite at Aloha Stadium. Nelson threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman had seven catches for 123 yards and one TD.
BYU owns a 21-16 spread record as a home favorite during Mendenhall’s eight-year tenure. The Cougars are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games as double-digit home ‘chalk.’
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--Since 2006, Hawaii is 11-7 ATS as a road underdog.
--BYU needs to get Hoffman more touches.
--This is the first of three consecutive home games for BYU. The Cougars host Utah St. next Friday and welcome Oregon St. to Provo the following Saturday (10/13).
--The ‘under’ is 2-1 overall for BYU, 1-0 in its home games with a total. Totals have been a wash for Hawaii with one ‘over,’ one ‘under’ and one game without a total.
--Sportsbook.ag has West Va. QB Geno Smith installed as the plus-175 ‘chalk’ to win the Heisman Trophy. Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas has the second-shortest odds at plus-185, followed by Kansas State’s Collin Klein (+550), Ohio St.’s Braxton Miller (6/1) and USC’s Matt Barkley (8/1).
--Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips told the media Wednesday that he expects starting QB Max Smith to return Saturday vs. South Carolina. Smith did not play due to a shoulder injury in last week’s 38-0 loss at Florida. The Wildcats, who are 21-point underdogs (+950 on money line at 5Dimes) against the Gamecocks, are 4-3 ATS as home ‘dogs under Phillips.
--Early line for LSU at Florida next weekend (via Sportsbook.ag): LSU -4.5
Brian Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For daily sports gambling analysis, follow Brian Edwards on twitter at Vegasbedwards.