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How and what to watch for North Alabama vs. No. 8 BYU

The No. 8 BYU Cougars continue their match toward a potential undefeated season Saturday when they host the still-winless North Alabama Lions.

Quarterback Zach Wilson and offensive lineman James Empey of the BYU Cougars both call out signals during second half action against the Boise State Broncos at Albertsons Stadium on November 6, 2020 in Boise, Idaho. BYU won the game 51-17. Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

The No. 8 ranked BYU Cougars continue their march toward a potential undefeated season Saturday when they host the still-winless North Alabama Lions.

Along with the similarly undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats, BYU has become one of the biggest stories in college football outside the Power 5 conferences. Over the first eight games of the season, quarterback Zach Wilson has established himself as a legitimate Heisman contender and a probable first-round pick in the coming NFL draft. The firepower he provides, along with a talented supporting cast, gives the Cougars a chance to compete against high-level competition.

North Alabama will not test BYU as much as previous opponents. The Lions lost their first three games of 2020 with all but one decided by multiple scores. Leading passer Blake Dever has not demonstrated the ability to match Wilson and has just 383 passing yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions combined over his three appearances this season. North Alabama will have a better chance by leaning into its ground game, though even the options there look limited. Top rusher Parker Driggers, officially listed as a wide receiver, has compiled 74 yards and two scores on 14 carries thus far.

With a tremendous talent disparity evident, the toughest question BYU expects to face Saturday will center on when to pull the starters rather than anything related to strategy.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch North Alabama vs. BYU on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET on ESPN3, or you can stream it via the ESPN app with a cable or streaming service login.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: North Alabama vs. No. 8 BYU (-48)
Point Total: 58.5
Money line: N/A

  • BYU has a mixed record against the spread in recent years. Since the start of 2015, the program has gone 17-18-0 against the spread at home and 13-12-0 as the home favorite.
  • The Cougars also haven’t hit the over too frequently. During the same stretch, they own a 13-21-0 over record at home and 8-16-0 over record as the home favorite.

Betting splits

UNA: (94% of handle, 91% percent of bets)
BYU: (6% of handle, 9% percent of bets)

The Best Bet

By every objective measure, BYU holds a colossal advantage over North Alabama. However, with so much more at stake for the Cougars this season, will they keep Wilson and their starters on the field long enough to cover and then maintain a near 50-point spread? That seems unnecessary.

Pick: North Alabama +48

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