BYU a 16-point favorite over UVA? Seriously?

uva-logo-new2The oddsmakers have installed BYU as a 16-point favorite over UVA heading into the teams’ non-conference matchup this weekend. Somebody has to ask the question, Why?

OK, so BYU dominated Texas two weeks ago in a 41-7 blowout that even seemed to eclipse what the Cougars did to the Longhorns last season, in a game that signaled the beginning of the end of the Mack Brown era.

But didn’t they also look a little more human last week in a 33-25 win over Houston, which lost 27-7 in Week 1 to Texas-San Antonio? So there’s that, and then since we mentioned last year, how about the fact that Virginia and BYU played last year in Charlottesville, and the ‘Hoos beat the Cougs 19-14 in the head-to-head?

That should count for something, if anything counts for anything this early in a football season. Because sure, you also need to factor in a sort of common opponent, UCLA, which had to rally to beat Texas this past weekend, 20-17, and also has a narrow win over Virginia, 28-20, in Week 1.

That would suggest that Virginia, UCLA and Texas are all on a level playing field, and BYU beat the heck out of Texas, ergo BYU is a big favorite over Virginia. But then you need to consider that the BYU-Texas game two weeks ago was 6-0 BYU at the half before Texas imploded in the second half, with three turnovers leading to short-field touchdown drives.

UVA, for its part, gave UCLA three defensive touchdowns in a game that the Cavs otherwise won statistically.

Another way of looking at this matchup, then, is that the two teams are somewhat even performance-wise thus far in 2014. BYU gets points for home-field advantage, but three, four, tops, but that’s it, and par for the course.

Then we look at the recruiting metrics. Looking at Rivals and 247Sports recruiting numbers for the past four classes, Virginia has a significant talent advantage.

Factor in that the UVA coaching staff has already had the opportunity to prepare for BYU’s unique offensive schemes, and has game tape from its successful effort in 2013, and this one is far from a 16-point game.

It’s actually a game that Virginia can very much win.

– Column by Chris Graham

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