Toledo Rockets at Brigham Young Cougars: Preview, TV, Streaming, Betting Line, Start Time

Toledo at BYU

  • Start Time: 10:15 PM EST. Friday, September 30.
  • Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, Utah
  • TV: ESPN2
  • Streaming: WatchESPN
  • Radio: Toledo: HereBYU: Here.
  • Records: Toledo: 3-0. BYU: 1-3.
  • Live Stats: Here.
  • Line: Toledo +4. O/U: 53.

Why this game matters:

Toledo is sitting at 3-0 with wins over an 0-4 Arkansas State team, a FCS Maine team, and a 1-3 Fresno State squad. They need to prove to the nation that they are a challenger to Western Michigan in the MAC west and can actually go undefeated this season.

BYU is by far the best team on their schedule not named WMU. The Cougars are probably the best 1-3 team in the nation, losing to Utah, UCLA, and West Virginia by a combined seven points. A few breaks go differently and we are looking at an undefeated Cougars squad heading into this game.

Basically, it is put up or shut up time for the Rockets in their mission to earn national relevancy.

How Toledo can win:

Run the football successfully. That is much easier said than done as the Rockets have been great at gaining yards on nearly every play, but have been unable to break any explosive plays in the run game. Star running back Kareem Hunt is having a good season, but has been unable to break off the backbreaking runs that got him national publicity in the past. It is not a one man group for Toledo as Terry Swanson, Art Thompkins, and Damion Jones-Moore all have 20+ carries and over 100 yards on the year. Thompkins is an interesting prospect and owns the highest yards per rush average on the team.

As I said earlier, running the ball is easier said than done, especially versus this BYU defense. The Cougars do an excellent job of getting into the backfield and disrupting the run game before it can be established. They are stuffing run plays at a rate of 27.5%, good for #14 nationally. They one biggest weakness is giving up explosive plays, something Toledo has struggled to do early in the season.

If the run game is struggling for Toledo, it all falls on the shoulders of Logan Woodside. He has been extremely effective with over 300 yards per game, but barely faced more than air in the first three games of the season. He will be going up against a BYU defense that dares you to take the short pass constantly. Woodside can be the player to watch if he is willing to overlook the long gainers in exchange for short pass after short pass.

How BYU can win:

Get better production in the passing game. Taysom Hill has been all over the place this fall after looking so excellent early in the 2015 season. He is completing over 60% of his passes, but he barely has 200 yards per game in the air. He has also given the ball away seven times on interceptions and fumbled three times. Luckily for BYU, those three fumbles were recovered by the Cougars to keep them in the black on turnover margin.

If you are looking for explosion, do not look at the BYU receiving corps. No one with more than five catches on the season has a great yards per catch average. Even top target Moroni Laulu-Pututau is only catching 60% of the passes thrown his way for 10.1 yards per catch. Pututua, Nick Kurtz, and Mitchell Juergens must find a way to stretch the Toledo secondary.

Speaking of the Toledo defense, you might want to take a snapshot of the stats before this game. They are sitting at #1 nationally in defensive passing success rate and defensive passing IsoPPP, while also ranking in the top 25 in virtually every passing category.

If there is a weakness established with the Toledo defense, it is the inability to keep gap responsibilities in the run game. When they mess up, they mess up bad with one of the worst IsoPPP rankings versus the run in the nation. Hill and Jamaal Williams can take advantage and break multiple long runs.

Matchup to watch:

BYU linebackers versus Kareem Hunt. The Cougars roll out multiple linebackers that have been outstanding to start the season. The group has well over 10 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, five interceptions, and multiple forced fumbles on the year. Despite facing three Pac 12 teams and a Big 12 team, they have not faced a running back as purely talented as Hunt. Which team wins this battle will win the game.

Prediction:

This game has a very high chance of going right to the wire. Toledo has quite a bit to prove to the national media and BYU is desperate to get off this three game losing streak. Both teams rely upon their run games to open up the offense, but Toledo has actually gotten great production from Woodside while Hill has struggled in the passing game. Playing in Provo gives BYU a few points, but Toledo is the better team. Toledo 24, BYU 21.

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