Could the UConn Huskies be one of the surprise teams in the American Athletic Conference this season? A strong showing against the heavily-favored BYU Cougars could be a sign of things to come. The Cougars struggled on the East Coast last season against Virginia in an ugly, rainy, turnover-filled opener and the Huskies ended last season with a three-game winning streak.
BYU vs UConn College Football Preview
Date/Time: Friday August 29, 7:00 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from WagerWeb
College Football Betting Favorite: BYU -16.5
The Cougars put together a solid season once again under Bronco Mendenhall with an 8-5 record. The 2013 season marked the first time, however, that the Cougars were under .500 (6-7) against the spread since 2008. Connecticut ended the season with three straight outright upset victories after beginning the season 0-8.
One of the most delicate parts of the Brigham Young University football program is the Honor Code and that has had a direct impact on this game. Running back Jamaal Williams and wide receiver Devon Blackmon are both suspended for this game for Honor Code violations. Taysom Hill will be under center, however, and that makes the Cougars a very dangerous team. Hill racked up 1,344 rushing yards and 2,938 passing yards with 29 total touchdowns last season. All five starters return on the offensive line to protect Hill and the wide receiving corps could get a bump from grad student transfer Jordan Leslie, who registered over 1,500 yards at UTEP. Defensively, the Cougars get Jordan Johnson back, their top cornerback who missed last season with a torn ACL. While that will shore up the secondary, the departure of Kyle Van Noy and Uani ‘Unga in the linebacking corps will be hard to replace.
The Huskies got a new head coach over the offseason as Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco took over for Paul Pasqualoni. The Huskies seemed to find something late in the season with quarterback Casey Cochran, who completed 63.4 percent of his passes and had an 11/4 TD/INT ratio. Top target Geremy Davis returns, along with his 71 catches for more than 1,000 yards last season. There are some defensive losses, including Yawin Smallwood, who left early for the NFL, but the Huskies are in good shape here after replacing two NFL draft picks in the secondary prior to the 2013 offseason. Diaco has fashioned some quality defenses at Notre Dame and former New England Patriot Vincent Brown is an assistant coach. Early season turnovers killed the Huskies last season as the quarterbacks not named Cochran had a 5/14 TD/INT ratio.
Free Pick: UConn Huskies +16.5
This is a very big number for BYU to lay in a season-opening road game far away from home with some skill position question marks. The Cougars were 0-3 ATS on the road as a favorite last season and are 46-9 straight up at home compared to 30-21 straight up on the road under Mendenhall. The Huskies had a decent end to last season and they’re going to play hard no matter the circumstances. The shift to a 3-4 defense should help UConn contain big running plays in a game like this.
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