The BYU-Michigan matchup set for Week 4 is rather intriguing.
For the Wolverines, the Cougars mark the fourth west coast team in as many weeks to break open the 2015 season. As for Bronco Mendenhall and Co. it'll just be another Catch-22 in a laundry list of foes.
So while my leisure activities consist of dialing up 'Hill 4 Heisman' signs and perhaps browsing the nearest dri-fit supplier for a 'Vanquish the Foe' garment, I'm ultimately higher on BYU than the customary connoisseur. The public and I appear on different pages come Week 4, yet this time, I'm not buying the Cougs when they infiltrate the Big House.
My cuticles, once withered down to the nub, have endured their share of head-scratching, as the initial thought of Michigan opening up as 7-point favorites raised an influx of red flags. Since then, the public has taken matters into its own hands and sunk that number to 5.5. It's quite enticing for a capable program to receive a respectable amount of points I'll willingly admit that; but it all makes sense once you piece the fragments together.
Are we that good? Quarterback Taysom Hill can sequentially take over a game single-handedly, and Mendenhall's offense notched an average of 33.1 points per contest outside of Provo in 2014. What's the catch?
Michigan opened -7 against BYU, but that is now down to -5.5. UM was +4.5 againt MSU, now it's +5.5. But they went from +16 to +13 vs OSU.— Tony Gerdeman (@GerdOZone) July 2, 2015
The obstacle for BYU may not be talent, but rather the situation.
I mentioned the schedule, perhaps the most rugged in America. BYU will venture out to Lincoln for a showdown with the Cornhuskers to kickoff its season, then will subsequently return to its home turf in Week 2, where they will be listed as 6-point underdogs to Boise State.
After a rendezvous with the UCLA Bruins as visitors, the Cougars will once more venture back to the pit of the country to endure the 100,000+ fans draped in maize and blue. With three significant road battles and preparation for top-tier programs, could we see the mentality run dry this early in the season for BYU? The angle doesn't necessarily stop there, however. A four-game stretch versus big-time opposition, following the Wolverines in the agenda comes a string of so-called 'cakewalks,' with East Carolina, Wagner, and Connecticut, all of which will be played in front of the home crowd.
For the Wolverines, it's far simpler. Prior to the meeting, they'll welcome UNLV to Ann Arbor, and perhaps use a shellacking to build momentum for the Cougars. Not to mention that they'll be game planning for some rather slow-tempo offenses in Utah and Oregon State in Weeks 1 and 2, the familiarity of high-tempo becomes imminent once more in Week 3. UNLV not only can be used as a tune-up, but a small glimpse at a team that likes snap the ball quick and emphasize a substantial amount of motion, while using its quarterback to supply a ton of deception with play-action out of the shotgun, keepers, and all that fun jazz. Ding ding ding, BYU fancies itself in similar fashion.
BYU will be tested in 2015 throughout its rugged schedule, yet still supplies a nice balance where they could be a seven-game club and earn a bowl berth. But win, lose, or eight overtimes, I won't be a buyer in Week 4. Ann Arbor buzz that is followed by meetings with UCLA, Boise State and Nebraska, with Connecticut, Wagner and East Carolina on deck to ultimately find a groove before the latter trial of its schedule?
No thanks, Cougs.