The winner of Saturday's hastily-scheduled game between undefeated teams No. 13 BYU and No. 18 Coastal Carolina will still be highly unlikely to make the College Football Playoff, but one team will have a marquee late-season victory on which to hang their hat. After both have rolled through schedules featuring mostly overmatched opponents, it's time to see who's higher in the Group of Five pecking order.
Just a few days ago, the Chanticleers were on track to play Liberty in an intriguing nonconference game. But after Liberty encountered issues with COVID-19, this matchup against BYU should draw even more national attention thanks to BYU's standing as one of the most polarizing teams in this wonky 2020 college football season. The Cougars have trounced their nine opponents thus far by an average 33.7-point margin of victory, but their best victory to date came against a Boise State team playing without its top two quarterbacks.
Coastal Carolina knocked off quality Sun Belt foes Louisiana and Appalachian State, and will provide the Cougars with their toughest test yet. Led by a rising star at quarterback in Grayson McCall and another rising star at head coach in Jamey Chadwell, the Chanticleers are looking to make a national statement in just their fourth season competing at the FBS level.
So who wins this last-second showdown of ranked teams on the coast of South Carolina? Let's take a look at the storylines and matchups to follow in this one before making some expert picks both straight up and against the spread.
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BYU: It can be tempting to rib BYU for its light schedule, but the fact that the Cougars have played nine games is a testament to the job athletic director Tom Holmoe did to get the Cougars on the field this season. They had no conference games to fall back on as an independent program, which sent them scrambling to find games. BYU was supposed to play the likes of Utah, Michigan State, Arizona State, Minnesota and Stanford, among others before the COVID-19 pandemic, but now this game against Coastal Carolina will be the Cougars' best opportunity to prove they are truly an elite team. Quarterback Zach Wilson has thrown 26 touchdowns and just two interceptions. If he can put together another prolific game and lead BYU to a win, it will solidify his standing as a potential high-round NFL Draft pick and give his team a statement win.
Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers run an innovative spread option attack that has produced 38.7 points per game, which is tops in the Sun Belt. It's produced an impressively balanced attack (222 yards rushing per game and 226.3 passing) that has flummoxed opposing defenses. But their defense has been sneaky good as well, allowing just 322.2 yards per game, which is 15th nationally. The success on both sides of the ball has made Chadwell a hot name on the coaching carousel during his third season as coach. The former East Tennessee State quarterback has already been a head coach at four programs, but he's never worked at the Power Five level. Orchestrating a win on short notice vs. BYU would surely help eliminate any doubts over his qualifications for a big-time gig.
Date: Saturday, Dec. 5 | Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
Location: Brooks Stadium -- Conway, South Carolina
TV: ESPNU | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
BYU at Coastal Carolina predictions, picks
BYU's throttling of nearly every opponent to date make them an appealing play, but Coastal Carolina's spread option scheme is unique and difficult for which to prepare. Considering that BYU is traveling cross-country on short notice to play against an unorthodox scheme, the Chanticleers could have an opportunity to take an early lead. It may not win outright, but Coastal Carolina is sound enough in all phases of the game to cover against BYU. Pick: Coastal Carolina (+10)
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 14? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,500 in profit over the past four-plus seasons -- and find out.