If there was one opponent Utah had to draw to be motivated for the Las Vegas Bowl it needed to be the BYU Cougars. After the start and position they were in earlier this season, it is realistic to think that the Utes would not be able to get motivated for a smaller game like the Las Vegas Bowl. But against instate competition, I think Utah is going to be more in tune this afternoon in Vegas. Beyond this game, it’s pretty pathetic that 5-7 teams are getting into bowl games now. How in the world is San Jose State in a bowl game? I guess you can make an argument for Nebraska playing in the BIG 10, but San Jose State? Needless to say I think I’m going to skip San Jose State and Georgia State and this is coming from somebody who loves bowl games. Of course, there is a monetary benefit in it for us with all of these bowl games, so I like that aspect of it all. However, come on, there has to be a line drawn. Pretty soon teams who have 1 win on their resume are going to make it to the postseason.
These are essentially glorified exhibition games, but it is a nice experience for the players. It really becomes a competition of conferences vs. conferences. At the end of the day people will look at how certain conferences are doing, but there isn’t much in the way of it for individual teams. Speaking of the small bowl games anyway. There is of course the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl which are the biggest bowl games of all, included in the college football playoff.
Here in the Las Vegas bowl Utah has a chance to redeem themselves after throwing away what could have been a trip to the college football playoff. With the statement win against Oregon, a 60-22 pounding, the stage was set for the Utes to be the surprise team of 2015. Three weeks later and another two wins in their back pocket, Utah fell to USC big 42-24. That was about the time the wheels started to fall right off for Utah. Then Utah was hit with the injury to one of the top running backs in the country. Devontae Booker provided Utah with another dimension on offense. That was when the wheels were completely off and the Utah season unraveled, finishing 9-3 with another couple losses to Arizona and UCLA. The Utes can finish on a high note with a win against the Cougars of BYU.
BYU Cougars vs. Utah Utes Las Vegas Bowl Betting Odds:
vs. Utah -7.5(-115)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
BYU vs. Utah Pick:
Along with Utah, BYU had a good year going before one game pretty well changed everything. That loss against Michigan, 29-0, cemented the Cougars fate. Smaller schools need to run the gauntlet and go undefeated to get much sympathy from the voters. BYU added another loss against Mizzou in November for what was their worst loss of the season. A wrench thrown into this game is the fact that head coach and his staff Bronco Mendenhall are dipping for Virginia after this game. Mendenhall has accepted the head coaching job at Virginia. He wasn’t fired, he just left. What do you think that does to a team? I cannot say I would be getting up for my coaching staff in his final game given those circumstances. Nevertheless, quarterback Tanner Mangum has come into his own after thinking he would be the backup this season.
Mangun has fired for 21 touchdowns and 7 interceptions while throwing for 3062 yards. Utah slipped defensively late with injuries, ending up allowing an average of 21.8 points per game but still impressive. The Utes finished with the 86th best defense in college football. For Travis Wilson this is it at the college football ranks. While he has endured some criticism, he is going to go down as one of the better quarterbacks at Utah. Wilson heads into the Las Vegas Bowl with 7302 yards thrown with 54 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. Working against Utah in this game is the game itself. Utah has been in the Las Vegas Bowl three of the last four seasons. I think the superior passing game of the Cougars will wear out Utah in this game. Devontae Booker was the show in Utah. When he was gone his loss was felt immediately. BYU grabs a close one.
PICK: BYU +2.5 (-110)