If the Toledo Rockets go out to BYU and pull off an upset win, I’m really hoping that whoever is on the call for the game lets out a “Holy Toledo!” at the end. This is an extremely unique spot for the Rockets to visit Provo and take on the Cougars. Toledo is off to a dominant start, but this is easily the best team that they will have played to date. On the BYU side, Toledo is probably the worst team they will have played to date, which speaks to the strength of their schedule so far.
Toledo vs. BYU College Football Preview
Date/Time: Friday September 30, 9:30 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: BYU -3.5
This is one of the more interesting lines of the weekend. BYU’s home field advantage is certainly worth more than the standard three points, especially for a team that isn’t used to playing in the altitude. Even if we conservatively say that BYU is worth 3.5 or four points here, that would make Toledo about a pick ‘em on a neutral against BYU. Is that a stance that you agree with? If not, you know what to do. The Rockets are 3-0 under Jason Candle in his first full season as coach and they’ve covered the number in all three games. BYU is 1-3, but the Cougars are 4-0 against the spread, so they’ve been good for the bettors.
A bye week to prepare for a trip to Provo is never a bad thing. BYU’s physical brand of football can wear down a tired team, but the Rockets are very fresh. Logan Woodside has been terrific so far this season with an 11/1 TD/INT ratio and a 62.2 percent completion percentage through three games. Kareem Hunt has run for 5.2 yards per carry and the Rockets have heavily relied on the run, with 133 carries against 86 pass attempts. With last year’s offensive coordinator at the helm, things haven’t changed for this Rockets offense. They are averaging 19.3 yards per catch and have four touchdown receptions of more than 60 yards. BYU’s defense will be, by far, the best that they have faced.
On the defensive side, it’s hard to evaluate this group because of the level of competition. Toledo has played an Arkansas State team that looks totally disheveled so far. They’ve also played Maine and Fresno State. You can only play the teams on the schedule, so we have to take it for what it’s worth. The Rockets have held opponents to 10 points per game and just two points per game in the first half. They’ve only allowed 4.1 yards per play. The BYU offense isn’t particularly explosive under first-year head coach Kalani Sitake and first-year offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, so the Rockets defense shouldn’t be under attack here.
The offensive numbers don’t stand out for BYU, but not many teams have played a harder schedule. When you factor in that this is a very inexperienced coaching staff, it adds more fire to the flames. BYU has played Arizona, Utah, UCLA, and West Virginia through four weeks. Taysom Hill isn’t a good fit for this pro-style offense, which is evident in his 4/6 TD/INT ratio. He’s still a good runner and Jamaal Williams has ripped off 5.3 yards per carry, but this offense will continue to suffer under Hill. He’s just not a good fit, but he’s been through so much that the coaching staff wanted to give him the opportunity over Tanner Mangum. It will be interesting to see how long they go with Hill, since he’s clearly struggling.
The BYU defense has been excellent. Kalani Sitake is a defensive-minded guy and this is a group that has overcome some big losses from last season to be solid thus far. The Cougars have only allowed 22 points per game and 11.2 points per game in the first half. They have given up a few big plays in the passing game, which will be a point of emphasis against Toledo and their explosive aerial attack, but the Cougars have held the opposition to just 3.5 yards per carry. Toledo likes to have offensive balance and that could be taken away here this week.
College Football Free Pick: BYU -3.5
The Cougars have such a great home field advantage and they’ve played such a difficult schedule that this number seems off. Toledo is a great team and could very well be the class of the MAC when it’s all said and done, but the altitude may affect the team’s offensive tempo. This will also be a very physical game in the trenches and that’s not something that Toledo is accustomed to. It’s just a bad spot, even if Toledo has an athleticism advantage.
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