Expert Cappers Picks
College Football
Western Michigan vs Brigham Young
When: 4:00 PM ET, Friday, December 21, 2018
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho


1. BYU is back in the postseason after last season's 4-9 finish snapped a run of 12-straight bowl appearances, but how motivated will the favored Cougars be for the Dec. 21 matchup against Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and a December trip to Boise? Before the postseason pairings were set on Dec. 2, more than a few Cougars were campaigning on social media for a warm-weather bowl, but instead they’ll be playing on the blue turf at Albertson’s Stadium for the second straight month following a 21-16 loss to Boise State on Nov. 3. “I’m excited,” defensive back Dayan Ghanwoloku said during the team’s bowl news conference. “I wanted (to go) somewhere warm, but Idaho will do. It’s a bowl game, so I’m just happy to be at a bowl game.”

2. At 6-6 in Tim Lester’s first season coaching his alma mater a year ago, Western Michigan was one of three bowl-eligible teams that did not receive a postseason invitation. But thanks in no small part to a regular season-ending win over eventual Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois, the Broncos are bowling for the fourth time in five seasons and will be making their second Potato Bowl appearance following a 2014 loss to Air Force in Boise. “It means everything,” Western Michigan senior center John Keenoy told on Dec. 2. “For the seniors, we’re just happy to have another opportunity to play together as a team. This bowl is known around Western Michigan, we’ve been there, we’re very excited to go and we get more practices for the young guys, so it’s great for the program.”

3. Both the Cougars and Broncos are expected to be led by freshman quarterbacks in the game. At BYU, Zach Wilson replaced benched senior Tanner Mangum for the Oct. 13 contest against Hawaii and has accounted for 10 total touchdowns and three interceptions on the season while guiding the Cougars to a 3-3 finish. Meanwhile, Western Michigan's Kaleb Eleby replaced injured junior Jon Wassink (ankle surgery) in the first quarter of an Oct. 25 loss to Toledo and has accounted for six TDs and two interceptions over the last four games.

TV: 4 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: BYU -12

ABOUT WESTERN MICHIGAN (7-5): It’s been a season of streaks for the Broncos, who lost to Syracuse and Michigan to open the year, then reeled off six straight wins before dropping three in a row prior to the 28-21 victory over Northern Illinois. Western Michigan ranked third in the MAC in total (447.2 yards per game) and rushing offense (204.6), on the legs of All-MAC First-Team running back LeVante Bellamy (conference-best 97.7 yards) and Third-Team selection Jamauri Bogan (58.5). Defensively, the Broncos surrender 33.3 points (10th in the 12-team MAC) and 378 yards (sixth) as they're led by linebacker Drake Spears (6.8 tackles per game) and defensive lineman Ralph Holley (eight sacks).

ABOUT BYU (6-6): It’s been an up-and-down season for the Cougars, who started 3-1 – including a 24-21 road win over then-No. 6 Wisconsin on Sept. 15 – but have lost five of eight games since, including a 35-27 setback against rival Utah in the regular-season finale as they failed to protect a 27-7 third-quarter lead. Due to injuries and personnel adjustments, no player finished with more than 459 rushing or receiving yards, but the Cougars do expect to have senior running back Squally Canada (412 rushing yards, five TDs) available after he missed the last two games with a concussion. Tight end Matt Bushman (25 receptions, 459 yards, two touchdowns) and wide receiver Talon Shumway (20, 319, three) are the team’s top aerial targets while senior linebacker Sione Takitaki (99 total tackles, 8.5 for loss) leads a defense which allows only 21.7 points and 325 yards per outing.

PREDICTION: BYU 31, Western Michigan 23

Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Western Michigan 7-5 W1 33.2 33.3 3-3 4-2 0-0 1-0 5-3
Brigham Young 6-6 L1 25.4 21.7 3-3 3-3 4-3 0-0 2-0
Last Meeting
Western Michigan Brigham Young
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
No previous meeting.
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Western Michigan N/A
Brigham Young N/A
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Western Michigan N/A
Brigham Young N/A
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Western Michigan N/A
Brigham Young N/A
Touchdowns Player TD
Western Michigan N/A
Brigham Young N/A
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Western Michigan J. Wassink 61.5 2009 16 6
Brigham Young Z. Wilson 62.2 1261 8 3
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Western Michigan L. Bellamy 190 1172 6.2 6
Brigham Young L. Katoa 77 427 5.5 8
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Western Michigan J. Reed 55 792 14.4 8
Brigham Young M. Bushman 25 459 18.4 2
Touchdowns Player TD
Western Michigan J. Bogan 15
Brigham Young L. Katoa 9
Quickchart Matchup
Western Michigan Western Michigan Off vs  Brigham Young Brigham Young Def
Western Michigan 448.8 yards
Brigham Young 325 yards
Western Michigan 4.7 yards/rush
Brigham Young 3.7 yards/rush
Western Michigan 8.2 yards/attempt
Brigham Young 6 yards/attempt
Brigham Young Brigham Young Off vs  Western Michigan Western Michigan Def
Brigham Young 354.8 yards
Western Michigan 378.3 yards
Brigham Young 4.2 yards/rush
Western Michigan 4.5 yards/rush
Brigham Young 6.8 yards/attempt
Western Michigan 8.1 yards/attempt