Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 9:16 AM
One of the great unreported stories of the 2011 season so far is how bad BYU's offense has been. If you've been watching their games on TV (and all three BYU games have been showcased within the ESPN family so far, with a fourth coming up tonight vs. Central Florida), you've mostly been fed a storyline of how great things are going to be for this "new independent." They're going to be the Notre Dame of the Mountain West...and ESPN will be right there to show you any game they play against a big name opponent.
This was the storyline during what turned out to be a pretty dismal 14-13 win over Ole Miss that only featured one offensive touchdown. The color announcer in BYU-Texas must have been getting paid royalties on the phrase "People don't realize how good this BYU really is" as he watched the Cougars scored just one offensive touchdown again. The illusions were pretty much blasted away for good in the stunning 54-10 loss to Utah. Except...hardly anyone was watching that game because Oklahoma-Florida State or Ohio State-Miami took everyone up to their late local news before bedtime.
BYU is 1-2, and could easily be 0-3. And, that's come against a schedule that looks softer now than it did at the time.
MISSISSIPPI has turned out to be awful. We touched on this in our Tuesday report, so we won't rehash it all here. In short, Ole Miss was out-statted in an unimpressive win over Southern Illinois the week after BYU...then got absolutely trounced last week by a pretty bad Vanderbilt team. BYU-Ole Miss was a TV hype game that may ultimately have involved teams who aren't even in the top 50 nationally.
TEXAS struggled in the first half of the BYU game because they insisted on playing a turnover prone quarterback. BYU beat the "in over his head" Garrett Gilbert 13-3. The backup quarterbacks for Texas (who are now the only guys who can play because Gilbert had season-ending surgery and the preseason fourth teamer transferred to Colorado) won the second half 14-3. That's the equivalent of a 28-6 loss over a full game. Texas beat UCLA by 29 last week...and UCLA is one of the worst teams in the Pac 10 this year.
UTAH has a surprisingly even game statistically with Montana State in its season opener, winning yardage by just a 292-258 margin in a 27-10 scoreboard victory. The next week Utah was outgained by USC 416-319 in a game more remembered for a wild pointspread ending than USC's edges at the point of attack.
If you just grade out the math from the opponents:
BYU isn't any better than Southern Illinois and is a lot worse than Vandy
BYU may be a little better than UCLA, which isn't saying much
BYU may be worse than Montana State, and is significantly worse than USC at the point of attack.
This isn't the story ESPN is selling because they have a dog in this fight...and they'll be trying to sell you that dog again tonight in a national TV game with Central Florida, and later this season in additional games.
BYU ON ESPN OR ESPN2
Tonight: vs. Central Florida
Next Friday: vs. Utah State
October 28: at TCU
December 3: at Hawaii
What a scam! A team that ranks 73rd on offense in the 2010 season gets an up-front commitment for seven national TV games in 2011.
That offense sure doesn't look any better in 2011. In fact, they've fallen to 96th so far! That will surely go up as the schedule weakens with the likes of San Jose State, the two Idaho schools, and a few other vulnerable defenses. Handicappers have to see through the pollution, and the media hype so they can make proper selections.
Here's what you should know about BYU's offense.
They scored one touchdown and gained 316 yards on Ole Miss (who allowed 420 yards to Southern Illinois, and 387 to Vanderbilt).
They scored one touchdown and gained 237 yards on Texas (who allowed 224 yards to Rice and 317 to UCLA).
They scored one touchdown and gained 354 yards (with SEVEN turnovers!) on Utah (who allowed 258 yards to Montana State and 416 to USC).
Bad performances vs. a schedule that's not particularly grueling, with peripheral data that makes things look even worse.
What does that mean for tonight's TV game against Central Florida? Hey, Central Florida isn't a pushover. You'll recall that they won Conference USA last year...and knocked off Georgia in a bowl game. They're not on TV every week like BYU. In fact, they may have been caught looking ahead to their TV appearance last week when they were shocked by greatly improved Florida International (winning yardage 300-238 but losing on a fumble return TD).
Central Florida may be in the neighborhood talent-wise of Utah and Ole Miss this year. They certainly compare very favorably to the peripherals of Vanderbilt, Southern Illinois, or Montana State. The legal betting markets have them virtually even with BYU. The game opened at BYU -3.5 (home field is worth three points generally, but often more when altitude is involved). Early week money brought that number down to -3 in some places, and even -2.5 in others. Wise Guys are skeptical about BYU too! But, the money did stop on Central Florida at +2.5...which may be influence what JIM HURLEY releases to his customers tonight.
NETWORK will definitely be working with its sources to determine how a team based at sea level will handle the altitude and travel in this unique situation. Plus, Central Florida is the kind of program that's most dangerous when they're going to catch somebody napping (Georgia was asleep through the whole bowl game last year!). BYU won't be napping. They'll be breathing fire at home after a huge home loss to a rival.
Does the dog still make sense against the sluggish home favorite? Or, is this a horrible spot to ask for a short road dog to play well? DON'T MAKE A MOVE UNTIL YOU HEAR WHAT JIM HURLEY HAS TO SAY!
Tonight's winner will set up a big weekend that includes our SEPTEMBER GAME OF THE MONTH in the colleges. It's our biggest release so far this season. Whatever you win tonight will roll over into that MONSTER.
Among the big games on Saturday's card:
Arkansas at Alabama
LSU at West Virginia
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
Florida State at Clemson
Oklahoma State at Texas A&M
Missouri at Oklahoma
Oregon at Arizona
There are several other interesting matchups too, like Colorado-Ohio State, North Carolina-Georgia Tech, Nevada-Texas Tech, Tulsa-Boise State, and USC-Arizona State that would have higher profiles in the listings if they had been played a week or two earlier. It's really a great schedule this week!
We'll talk more about the NFL Sunday and Monday here in the NOTEBOOK. A very full divisional card highlights one could turn out to be a very memorable Sunday. Rest assured that BIG JUICY WINNERS will be coming your way each and every day. Take care of business online, or sign up in the office by calling 1-800-323-4453.
Maybe BYU breaks through tonight because the offense finally opens things up and plays to its potential. Or, maybe both BYU and ESPN are going to be embarrassed once again. You're a football fan, so you're going to watch. WATCH AND WIN WITH JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!