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College football free picks: Las Vegas Bowl – SportsUntapped.com
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Added December 20th, 2009 by David Glisan

College football free picks:  Las Vegas Bowl
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After a brief lull on Monday, the college football bowl season will continue hot and heavy for the next week.  While these bowls may not be particularly significant in the big picture, they’re often good wagering opportunities.  For some basic concepts for handicapping early season bowl games, check out this article.  Tuesday night features the Las Vegas Bowl between BYU and Oregon State, and here’s our take on the game:


This is the fifth straight year that BYU will make the five and a half hour trip from Provo to America’s ‘City of Lights’, Las Vegas.  Superficially, it would seem that the last place a bunch of Mormons would want to go is the mecca of lush living, drinking, gambling and other hedonistic delights that are ‘off the menu’ in their religion.  There’s a lot of reasons that it makes sense, however.  There’s actually a large LDS population in Southern Nevada, dating back to the founding of the city.  More recently, a surprisingly large number of Mormons have worked in the gambling industry.  This dates back to Howard Hughes, who insisted on hiring Mormons for his top lieutenants.

The problem is that five trips to the Sam Boyd Stadium–plus three during the regular season to play UNLV during Bronco Mendenhall’s tenure–means that this game long ago quit being a ‘big deal’ for the Cougars.  The secondary problem is that this may be the slowest and least athletic BYU team in the Mendenhall era.  BYU’s lack of speed in defense was most prominently exposed by Florida State who, even in a year where they performed far below their usual standards, was able to rip the Cougars 54-28 on their home field.  The problem here for BYU is that Oregon State may have the same speed and athleticism as the Seminoles, only with more talent and better coaching.

Oregon State’s offense has a multitude of weapons to bring to bear against BYU including running backs Jacquizz and James Rodgers, and an underrated passing attack led by the efficient Sean Canfield at quarterback.  The Beavers’ defense is underrated and although they struggled against quarterbacks who could move around in the pocket and throw the ball they won’t have that problem against the limited mobility of BYU’s Max Hall.

Bowl games have also been a problem for BYU in recent years, and they’ve covered only one of their five appearances in the Las Vegas Bowl.  This includes a very lethargic performance losing to Arizona last year, and on balance this BYU team isn’t as good as their predecessor.  On the other hand, Oregon State looks to be a more balanced team than Arizona last year and certainly has a more potent offense.  Mike Riley is also a perfect 5-0 straight up in bowl games.

Unlike many early bowl games, this looks to be one where the favorite enters with the greater focus and motivation.  BYU’s struggles in their recent bowl appearances seem to validate the possibility that these trips to Las Vegas are no longer a big deal to the Cougar program.  With the Beavers holding the talent edge in almost every phase of the game, they should win and easily cover the small pointspread.


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