BYU Cougars

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Jalen Hurts #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after throwing a 68-yard touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Alabama opens as Bovada’s early 2017 title favorite

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Alabama may have seen their dynasty temporarily derailed Monday night in Florida, but at least one wagering establishment expects Nick Saban to get it back on track post-haste.

Bovada.lv released its opening set of 2017 national championship odds very early Tuesday afternoon, with the bookmaker installing Bama as a 4/1 favorite coming off the loss to Clemson.  Last year at this time, coming off their fourth title in seven years, the same book had the Crimson Tide as a 7/1 favorite.

The team ‘Bama beat, Clemson, is at 16/1, tied with ACC Atlantic rival Louisville and behind six other teams besides the one they beat on the field last night — Florida State (7/1), Ohio State (15/2), Michigan (9/1), Oklahoma (9/1), USC (9/1) and LSU (12/1).  The other 2016 playoff team, Washington, is at 40/1, the same as 4-8 Notre Dame and behind the likes of Texas (28/1) and Miami (33/1).

Boise State, at 75/1, was the highest favorite amongst Group of Five programs.

Below are the complete list of 2018 title odds for the championship following the 2017 season, again courtesy on Bovada.lv:

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BYU coaching legend LaVell Edwards dies at 86

28 Sep 1996:  Head coach Lavell Edwards  of  Brigham Young University stands between his players Ronney Jenkins and Jared Kennedy during their 31-3 win over Southern Methodist University at Cougar Stadium in Provo, Utah. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons/Allsp
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One of the soft-spoken giants of college football has been silenced.

BYU confirmed Thursday afternoon that LaVell Edwards had passed away earlier in the day at the age of 86.  According to the school, Edwards was surrounded by his wife Patti and his family.

Edwards’ wife told the Provo Daily Herald that her husband fell and broke his hip on Christmas Eve, which contributed to his death.

Edwards spent 29 seasons as the Cougars head football coach, guiding the program to 257 wins in that span.  Prior to Edwards’ arrival in 1972, BYU had won 173 games the previous 49 seasons. Those 257 wins are the seventh-most ever for a Div. 1 coach, and he trails only Penn State’s Joe Paterno (409) and Florida State’s Bobby Bowden (304) for most victories at one school.

In 22 of his 29 seasons, Edwards’ teams qualified for a bowl.  In 20 of those seasons, they either won outright or shared a conference title.

His 1984 Cougars won the national championship, the last non-Power Five program that claimed a title.

While his coaching prowess was undeniable — he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004 — and his influence on the sport is felt to this day, it was LaVell Edwards the man who was on the minds of most today.

“I love LaVell Edwards. He came into my life, and the life of many others, at just the right time,” BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe said. “I had the influence of a great coach, a wonderful person, a disciple of Christ, a loyal family man and a true friend, from the day I met him until the day he passed away. LaVell had a pure heart. He was the dream coach of every parent. His example will forever be with me and I will strive to live a life of love as he always did.”

“I was saddened to hear that LaVell passed away this morning,” BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake said. “My thoughts and prayers are with Patti and the entire family. As I have expressed many times, LaVell had a tremendous impact on me, not only as a player and as a coach but even more importantly as a person. That is LaVell. He had an impact on so many lives, and not just as coach but as a person. So many people — players, coaches, fans, the entire BYU family, coaching colleagues and opponents — will tell you they are a better person because of him, and I’m definitely one of them. We all love LaVell and appreciate the amazing legacy he leaves with each of us.

New Mexico State putting together FBS independent schedule for 2018

STATESBORO, GA - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback Andrew Allen #8 of the New Mexico State Aggies attempts a pass against the Georgia Southern Eagles during the second quarter on October 17, 2015 at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Georgia.  (Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages)
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The Sun Belt is giving Idaho and New Mexico State the old heave ho after next season, and college football’s newest orphans are going about their futures in separate ways. Idaho has announced it will join the Big Sky Conference beginning in 2018, while New Mexico State is going to go it alone as an FBS independent.

Which means, obviously, New Mexico State will have to build its own schedule, each and every year.

The Aggies have begun doing so for 2018. On Monday they announced a home-and-home with Wyoming that will see the Cowboys visit Las Cruces on Aug. 25, 2018 — New Mexico State’s first game as an independent — while the Aggies will make a return visit to Laramie on Sept. 21, 2024.

It will be the two programs’ first meetings since 1953 — the only time New Mexico State and Wyoming have met on the field.

“Deputy AD Braun Cartwright and I have put in an enormous amount of time on football scheduling with the focus on securing games with regional Group of 5 opponents,” New Mexico State AD Mario Moccia said earlier this week. “Unlike in 2013 when we played four Power 5 conference programs, which had ripple effects on future year’s schedules, we have really focused on the home-and-home model.”

On Thursday, New Mexico State another home-and-home with current Sun Belt bunkmate Louisiana-Lafayette. New Mexico State will visit Lafayette on either Sept. 8 or Oct. 6, 2018, while the Ragin’ Cajuns will return the favor on Nov. 16, 2019.

New Mexico State also has a previously scheduled game at Minnesota on Aug. 30, leaving nine games still to be filled. The Aggies could seemingly find dance partners in fellow FBS independents BYU, Army and Massachusetts (Notre Dame is a different story), but even then New Mexico State still has to fill seven more games with the 2018 season only 20 months away.

Jamaal Williams powers BYU over Wyoming in sloppy Poinsettia Bowl

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Andrew Eide #79 and Parker Dawe #54 of the Brigham Young Cougars celebrate a rushing touchdown during the first half of  the Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 21, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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It wasn’t the pristine Southern California conditions either team wanted, but once the rain let up in San Diego, Jamaal Williams and BYU powered their way to a lead and then held on for a 24-21 win over old rival Wyoming on Saturday in the Poinsettia Bowl.

The Cougars tailback started the night out in a discouraging manner by fumbling for just the second time in his college career but rallied to finish the game with 210 yards and a touchdown. Outside of Williams, yards were relatively hard to come by on a night where the wet conditions played a key role in slowing down both offenses. Quarterback Tanner Mangum found the end zone once on the ground and once through the air off a crazy tip-drill touchdown catch, but otherwise was unable to move the ball consistently with his arm (8-of-15 for 96 yards, one interception).

Wyoming didn’t have much more luck as signal-caller Josh Allen (207 yards, two scores, two picks) struggled to get things going in the passing game until coming alive in the fourth quarter on two touchdown drives. Tailback Brian Hill sat out the first quarter as a result of a coach’s decision but managed to be the focal point for the Cowboys offense after entering the game and finished with 93 yards and a score.

It wasn’t meant to be however, despite a late rally to make things more interesting on the scoreboard that came to a close with a Kai Nacua interception to end the threat and preserve the Cougars’ fourth win in eight one-score games.

The sloppy victory also helped cap off a terrific debut season for BYU’s rookie coach Kalani Sitake. The team finished with nine wins this year and won their eighth straight against Wyoming in one of the older rivalries out West that was broken up due to conference realignment but found new life in a bowl game.

BYU holds halftime lead over Wyoming in rainy Poinsettia Bowl

BYU linebacker Morgan Unga (51) celebrates with teammates after a play during the first half of the Poinsettia Bowl NCAA college football game against Wyoming on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
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Old rivals BYU and Wyoming were probably expecting a lovely getaway in San Diego for the Poinsettia Bowl but the two were met with some uncharacteristically heavy Southern California weather on Saturday night to make life difficult in the first half.

Despite a constant downpour, the Cougars took advantage of the Cowboys’ struggles to jump out to a 10-0 lead heading into the locker room.

BYU tailback Jamaal Williams led the way offensively with 121 yards on the ground in the half but lost a fumble for only the second time in his career early in the first quarter. Quarterback Tanner Mangum wasn’t quite as effective through the air, with the conditions helping hold him to just three completions for 19 yards with an ugly interception to boot.

Things weren’t much better for Wyoming, which kept running back Brian Hill on the bench for the first quarter for unspecified reasons. He bounced back to become the focal point of the offense in the second quarter but one of the Mountain West’s best players couldn’t find much room against a stingy defense.

Special teams were the biggest issue for the Cowboys though, as a dropped punt snap set up BYU in the red zone and Mangum ran it in for the first score of the game. Things didn’t get any better as a later field goal attempt went south when that snap was mishandled too.

It should make for an interesting second half which, hopefully, will be a little crisper in terms of play after a few adjustments.