Saturday, October 20, 2012

Notre Dame Predictions


Last Saturday's game was really flukey in my opinion. The week prior the Oregon St. offense, with their starting QB mind you, put up a whopping 19 points in a close one at home to Washington St. On BYU's end, their defense the previous 3 weeks had not given up a single touchdown. They literally went 13 quarters without giving up a touchdown! So now they give up 5 to Oregon St. at home where none of those 5 touchdowns were even results of Riley Nelson turnovers? It was extremely flukey and Oregon St. severely out-coached BYU. Their gameplan was perfect, and the BYU defense got their butt kicked. Was the BYU defense "exposed"? I saw that going around all night and on twitter. I don't think that is the case at all. BYU's defense is still a top 10 defense in the nation. Oregon St. is a top 5 offense through the air and took away BYU's defensive strengths immediately by limiting pressure and not turning the ball over. I think this caught Bronco in particular off guard and he was unable to make any adjustments on defense. Despite all of this, BYU was still only down 4 points halfway through the 4th quarter.

So fast forward to this Saturday's game against a Notre Dame team having their best season in the last decade. It is great to see them relevant in the college football world again, but Notre Dame however, is still flawed. They have had QB issues all year with Golson and Reese. Golson has struggled to really garner that QB1 reputation and he will be playing Saturday after suffering a concussion against Stanford just last week. Despite their offensive struggles, Notre Dame is still undefeated. Their defense is also one of the best in the nation, and I expect this game to be a chess match with both teams trying to limit turnovers by running the ball early and often putting the game in the hands of their defenses. Yes, BYU's defense will bounce back. Will it be enough? Probably not. If this game were being played in Provo I would be the first to call upset, instead I see Notre Dame winning a game that will be closer than most people think.

Notre Dame 13, BYU 10


Call me crazy but I honestly think that BYU has a shot at in this game. Sure the offense is turning the ball over at an alarming rate and the defense looked porous last week. I still have faith. I have been watching Notre Dame this season and I have never been impressed by their offense. If BYU fans are tired of Riley Nelson giving up the football then Everett Golson will be a welcome sight. They have great  athletes at the skill positions but they offense hasn't hit their stride and the BYU defense should hold them in check.

Now I have to mention how menacing the Notre Dame defense is.  They are all kinds of scary and matching that up with the fact that BYU offense has a frightening tendency to turn the ball over makes me think that this could be ugly. HOWEVER, I have this strange feeling that Riley will try to play within himself and not force anything. Wait, did I really just say that? There is no way that Riley doesn't try to do too much. He's that guy you work with who is super nice and wants to impress everyone but he's not capable of half of the projects he is taking on. I love him but Riley needs to slow his roll. If he does, it might be close. If not, you know what happens.

Notre Dame 17, BYU 7


As I am about to leave for the game, I will try to make this brief. Notre Dame is good. BYU is not bad. Both teams have a good/great defense. Both teams have offenses that leave something(s) to be desired. Turnovers will decide this game, and hopefully BYU can limit them.

Interesting note: BYU is undefeated in football games which I attend. Let's continue that.

BYU 14, Notre Dame 13

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Oregon State Predictions

Call me crazy, as disappointed as I am about the Taysom Hill injury going forward as the future QB of the program, but I think Riley Nelson gives the BYU offense the best chance at putting up points THIS season. He has more chemistry with the wide-receivers and if he is at least somewhat healthy going forward, and Brandon Doman can limit the amount of times he runs the ball, then I think BYU has a shot at winning any of the remaining games on the schedule. Why you ask? We have known since essentially week 1 this season that this BYU defense is good, but we've now seen them hold opponents to no TD's for 13 straight quarters and we can safely say that this Cougar defense is top 10 in the nation, at least.

Looking forward to the Oregon St. matchup this week, BYU benefits from another team with an injured QB. Sean Mannion needs knee surgery and will be replaced by a QB named Cody Vaz who has yet to start a football game since High School. If the BYU defense was able to hold the Boise St. offense to 0 TD's, on the blue turf, after the  Cougar offense turned it over 5 times, only to follow it up with shutting out Hawaii and holding Utah St. (arguably the best offense in the state of Utah, okay not arguably, they are) to 3 points last Friday night, then how can we expect Cody Vaz and Oregon St to put up points this Saturday afternoon in the first ever BYU blackout game?! Regarding the blackout in an afternoon game, doesn't that basically erase the entire idea of a BLACKOUT? I'm furious about this.

Anyway, I expect Oregon St., despite their #10 ranking in the nation, to struggle big time on the offensive side of the ball and I expect the BYU offense and Riley Nelson to score more than just 6 points, although 6 points might win us this one anyway.

BYU 20, Oregon State 6

This BYU team isn't easy to believe in. The offense is anemic. They rely too much on their defensive counterparts to continually bail them out. I'm only partly sure that Riley Nelson isn't actually legally dead and now simply living as a zombie. None of this inspires great confidence. And yet, here I am picking them to beat a Top 10 team. Why?

The primary answer is that I refuse to pick against BYU's monstrous defense. My mind knows that, at some point, this until will be asked to save the day one too many times and they won't be able to come through. However, my heart refuses to believe that day will ever come. They have been so utterly dominant over the past month that I won't allow myself to see any conceivable way that changes. You simply don't score on these guys. Period.

But that's only part of the equation. The other part is that the Beavers' offense is not what it once was. This isn't the same unit that got them to this point. With Sean Mannion out with an injury, Oregon State will have to rely on an untested quarterback in his first career start. Lining up across from Kyle Van Noy and the boys in a hostile environment should prove to be a most unfriendly welcome for Cody Vaz.

There won't be many points scored in this game. I'm still not convinced Riley is healthy. But given the defensive support he's likely to receive, he should be able to "grit" out enough points to get it done in front of a homecoming crowd chock full of blue (black?) hairs

BYU 13, Oregon State 10

Oregon State is better than they were last year, but I just don't know how much better. BYU work them over last year in their own house. They weren't a good team at all last year, and I am supposed to believe they are now the 10th best team? No, no, no.

True, this weekend won't be an accurate depiction of the improvement of this team. Their much-improved starting QB is out, so conventional wisdom would tell you BYU's defense shouldn't have too much difficulty in stopping the OSU offense. The only question for BYU's success on Saturday is will the offense step up and score some points against an improved OSU defense?

BYU's offense has looked about as potent as Screech Powers' dating life in a couple of games this year, but those were against top-30 defenses. BYU's offense won't be confused with a top offense, by any stretch of the imagination, but they are capable of putting some points on the board -- in spite of what past experience might tell you. The good news is since it is so hard to tell what BYU's offense is up to (for good or for bad), that could make things difficult on OSU.

I think the touchdown-less streak continues through this game, extending to 17 quarters without an opponent offensive TD, and BYU's offense looks better than it did against USU and Boise State.

BYU 20, Oregon State 3

Friday, October 5, 2012

Utah State Predictions

Here are the Cougaracity predictions for tonight's game. It's almost time!

Jake (@BYUAllBlue)
Just like last year, this could be the turning point for the BYU. The big difference this year is that BYU is set to play two ranked opponents following their meeting with USU. A win here could give them some momentum going into those games and a loss would almost guarantee a losing record in the month of October for Cougars. There is a lot more on the line in this game than just in-state bragging rights.

Taysom Hill should get the start and will probably struggle. If I were USU I would stack the box with 8 guys and force Taysom to beat me with his arm. A few deep passes to one of the twin towers and that should open things up a bit. He will get things going later in the game but I'm not expecting a giant offensive output. The defense will also look a little venerable as the Aggies will move the ball up and down the field but will have to settle for field goals. In the end a David Foote touchdown will be the difference.

BYU 21, USU 13

Steve (@steve_pierce)
While I have tentatively picked the Cougars to come out on top in this one, you could easily sell me on the score being reversed. Let's be clear: the Aggies are for real. They can play some ball, and Chuckie Keaton is unquestionably the best quarterback in the state. However, he's also about to line up against one of the best defenses in the country, which is why I'm giving BYU an ever-so-slight edge tonight.

I expect the offense to remain a problem, regardless of who starts at quarterback. If it's Taysom Hill, the outcome should be slightly better and give the Cougar defense a little more breathing room. The kid just has a flair for extending plays with his legs and getting first downs, which should at least keep the offense on the field for a bit. If Riley Nelson makes his return to the lineup, it's likely that he will still be less than 100 percent and will essentially be functioning purely on his trademark "grit and determination." While both those qualities are great in the abstract, they don't necessarily add up to a great on-field performance -- something Cougar fans are abundantly aware of by now.

If Taysom is under center, I feel mildly OK about this prediction. If it's a still-hobbled Riley... Well, let's just say that all bets are off.

BYU 21, USU 17

Scott (@smg1981)
I'm pretty optimistic about this game. Growing up outside of Provo or Logan or even Utah, I never realized how much Utah State fans disliked BYU. I knew BYU and Utah were rivals, but I didn't even know Utah State was supposed to be a rival. However, these last few years or so have shown me Utah State doesn't like BYU or even me and my fellow BYU-fan friends.

Utah State is an improved program. They've shown us that over the last two seasons. While I would love to get back to the days when BYU would absolutely destroy the Aggies, it's probably not going to happen this year. However, I don't think it will be as close as everybody seems to think.

Utah State's defense is good, but the offenses they've played are not. If Taysom Hill is the QB tonight and he's throwing the ball more, BYU will be the best offense the Aggies have face all year. We saw last year what mobile QB did against USU. Tonight we will see what a super-mobile QB can do.

Utah State's offense is good, but BYU's defense is considerably better. Chuckie Keeton struggled against Colorado St in both 2011 and 2012. He also struggled against BYU last year, and I have no reason to believe Bronco won't be able to stop Keeton again.

BYU 27, USU 13

Preston (@prestonvjohnson)
With word coming in that the mighty Taysom Hill will be starting at QB for the Cougars tonight in Provo, I'm a little more optimistic about BYU scoring some points. The Utah St. offense will be the best the BYU defense has faced this year. Having held their opponent scoreless for 8 straight quarters against Boise St. and Hawaii, the BYU defense will have a different animal to tackle in Chuckie Keeton. I expect a close game the entire way, but can we really trust a true freshman making his second start ever at QB (does Hawaii even count???) and a 17 year-old starting at RB for the Cougars? The youth always have the close one they let get away, then learn from them for the future. Tonight is that game, unfortunately.

Utah St. 24, BYU 21

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cougaracity Predictions: Boise State

Scott Gower (@smg1981)

Even after three weeks into the season, we still don't know what we have in BYU, but, additionally, we don't what we have in Boise State. Boise State played a very close game against Michigan State, considered a top-10 or top-15 team by many. However, both teams were breaking in a new QB and neither offense looked good. In fact, both offenses look very sloppy. Both defenses, on the other hand, filled the stat sheet, but because the offenses were so bad, it is hard to tell if it was because the defenses were actually good.

Since them, Michigan State beat up on Central Michigan, and then got beat up by Notre Dame (and we don't know how good ND really is either). Boise State had a week off and played Miami (OH) last weekend. The Broncos struggled early, but ended up winning by a sizable margin after Southwick and Harper got going.

BYU's defense is much better than Miami's, especially on the run defense. I don't believe there's any chance Harper runs for half as much as he did against Miami, so Boise St. will have to rely on Southwick, and I'm not sure that will work out very well for the orange and blue. Since the offenses of Michigan State and Miami (OH) are nothing to write home about, we'll see how good Boise St.'s defense really is, but I'm guessing it's not as good as Utah's, so I think we'll be able to move the ball somewhat better than Saturday night showed.

BYU 27, Boise St. 20

Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue)

Since the ball bounced the other way so many times last game, let's hope that odds are in our favor today. Joe Southwick didn't inspire in the opener but performed as expected against Miami of Ohio. If Riley can stay healthy and the defense can contain D.J. Harper then we have a good shot at stealing this ball game. If both of those things can happen is unknown. It's hard to gauge the morale of team after Saturday's game. I feel like they have some fuel in the tank. Also, just for the record, I'd much rather have Riley's corpse play QB over just about anybody.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cougaracity Predictions: UTAH!

Rivalry Week!!!

The game is tomorrow, and here's what our self-proclaimed experts have to say about the outcome:

Daniel Anderson (@d_anderson11)
Well well well, we meet again, Ute fans. It's been awhile (about 10 months actually, which was the last time our schools played in any sport with significane, a near 20 point drubbing of your runnin' basketball squad). These get togethers are becoming less frequent ever since you jumped ship for the PAC-12, anxious to breathe deep in the historic aroma of your new surroundings. Ah, but you quickly learned that a more prestigious conference does not a better sports team make, unfortunately.

And no, I haven't forgot the score to last year's contest, but seeing as how you just got through losing to Utah State, a team we beat by narrowest margin possible, I think it's safe to say that we're a little closer in skill level than last year might have left you to believe. Also, it's probably not likely we turn the ball over another twenty times this year.

What is likely is a close contest, with Kyle Van Noy slaking his thirst for vengeance on the bones of your offensive skill players. True, BYU suffered a bit of set back when Jordan Wynn was injured last week and decided to call it a career, but I expect Jon Hays or Travis Wilson to still be sufficiently rattled by KVN's presence. I'm somewhat rattled by his presence. At home. In my living room. In Houston.

I know that according to the Ben Wagner Theory of BYU Sports Pessimism that if I predict a BYU victory it automatically means a BYU defeat, but I'm going out on a limb here, Ute fans. I don't think a Riley "I AM an Army of One" Nelson led Cougar team lets this one get away. It'll be close, like it normally is, i.e. not like last year. But I'm thinking 35-27, Cougars. See you this winter.

Scott Gower (@smg1981)
I'm not sure if I've ever looked forward to a game more than I do for this one. Maybe it's because I've never seen BYU take a beating like the one they got last year. While I don't think BYU was actually 44 points worse than Utah last year, we certainly looked it. Seven turnovers, including four with a very significant impact on the game (1 returned for a TD, 2 at our own 6 yard line or closer, and another just 3 yards away from a TD for us. A 28-point swing!) are hard to overcome, but Utah deserves credit for creating those turnovers. That said, it won't happen again.

I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone - if they are being honest with themselves - who'd say Riley is an excellent passer. Nevertheless, I think he is very mentally tough and possesses the kind of leadership that precludes a breakdown like 2011 from happening again. In Riley's worst game (vs. TCU), in spite of all of the special teams mishaps, Riley still led BYU from a 35-10 deficit late in the 3rd quarter to finish the game down only 38-28. Yes, we still lost, but the team didn't quit, which what it seemed like it did late in the 3rd quarter vs. Utah last year.

I think Riley and the offense can be successful against the Utah defense. We all felt the offense was impotent last year at this point, and it still racked up 354 yards. And forgive me if I don't think Utah's defense for this game is as good as last year's. Graduation, injury, transfer, and suspension have impacted this defense for the worse. I think a Riley-led offense can move the ball and put some points on the board. Conventional wisdom would tell you Doman only used what he needed to against the WSUs. I expect he'll unleash some unused things against Utah and Boise State. (More Taysom Hill? Pretty please?)

This BYU team will never quit with Riley in charge, and the defense is not only good enough to completely shut down Utah's offense (read: John White IV), but it is more than angry enough to do so. Last year left an indelible mark on them, and they demand satisfaction. If this rumor I am creating right now is correct, then Kyle Van Noy has been locked in a padded room with a bunch of John White IV quotes on the wall. He'll be ready.

BYU 24, Utah 13

Jake Welch (@jraywelch)
Both teams come into this game with an axe to grind. Utah is looking to bounce back after losing to USU, and BYU should still have the 54-10 beatdown fresh in their memory. BYU should come out and lay down the lay but that just doesn't happen, at least under Bronco Mendenhall. Oh well. I'm predicting an ugly game for both teams. Lots of punting in the first half and turnovers in the second. This might seem rather strange but I'm going to call this game based on the uniforms that BYU wears. If the go all white, they will lose. While the all whites looks nice, they result in ugly offensive performances. If they wear anything besides all white, they will win. It sounds ridiculous, but trust me. I have another theory that if a player gets married, the next season he will be worthless (McKay Jacobsen, Jake Heaps). Anyhow, here are the scores.

ALL WHITE: Utah 23, BYU 17


Steve Pierce (@steve_pierce)In our preseason predictions, I foresaw a close loss to the Utes in Salt Lake City. Of course, that was before our neighbors to the north looked utterly uninspiring in a blase win over Northern Colorado and a pathetic loss to Utah State. After seeing all that, have I changed my mind? Maybe. I want to believe what my eyes have seen -- that, through two games, BYU has looked like the superior team on both sides of the ball. However, the memory of last year's 54-10 drubbing remains fresh in my mind, so I'm hesitant to get too optimistic.

Like all good rivalries, BYU-Utah match-ups are almost always competitive (with a few notable exceptions) -- and, despite Utah's injury problems, I expect this one to be no different. After being embarrassed in Logan last weekend, the Utes will undoubtedly come out ready to (in the words of the five greatest rappers of all-time) "spit hot fire" at their hated rivals. They will be jacked up and ready to play in front of a ravenous home crowd. If BYU can somehow match that intensity, they should be in good shape. If not, they will likely lose to a team that, on paper, they should beat. Either way, I expect this to be a relatively low-scoring defensive showcase, with a few big plays making the difference. Let's just hope Riley Nelson can outduel Jon Hayes when it matters. 

BYU 23, Utah 17

Preston Johnson (@prestonvjohnson)

This game falls in an interesting situational spot for both teams. The Utes are coming off their big loss at Utah St. last week and early retirement announcement from Jordan Wynn. Jon Hays actually started 9 games last season and Utah looked better after Wynn went down, so this is no reason for BYU to be excited. The Cougars look to tackle the Holy War on the road after losing an absolute bloodbath last year in Provo when they fell to Utah 54-10. To put more at stake, we aren't even sure when the next Holy War will be in the future so this game will hold a lot of bragging power. On top of everything else, BYU has Boise St. on the road just 5 days later on a Thursday night.

I personally would have felt more comfortable going into Saturday if the Utes didn't just get it handed to them by the Aggies. I expect Utah to be playing at a different level than we saw last Friday night in Logan. Both of these defenses are very, very good. I think BYU has the more dynamic offense, but both teams have the players on defense to limit any big offensive explosions. Fortunately for the Cougars, they have just one or two more of those playmakers on offense, and it will be hard for the Utes to limit Cody Hoffman and company for 60 minutes.

I think BYU will squeak out a win in Salt Lake City 20-17. Look for Kyle Van Noy to be the difference maker late in a close game and set up the offense with a chance to win the game late.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rivalry Predictions: Burgess vs. Abouo

As many of you have noticed, it is Rivalry Week. BYU will travel north to play Utah this Saturday. We thought it would be appropriate to get some alumni predictions. Fortunately, Charles Abouo, the winningest basketball player in BYU history, and former Ute baller Chris Burgess were willing give their forecast for Saturday night's game. 

Last year, when Chris submitted his prediction, he predicted a blowout in Utah's favor (31-10). I thought he was nuts and almost asked him to try again (not really). Then the actual game happened, and it turned out his prediction was a bit on the conservative side. So, uh, he certainly showed me. 

Anyway, enjoy these rivalry game predictions from Charles Abouo and Chris Burgess.

Charles Abouo (2008-2012)
I am not a college football expert by any means, but I've had a chance to watch BYU football quite a bit in my 4 years there. I think this is a BYU team that has really improved over the last year. It's been fun to see how great our defense is, and Coach Mendenhall has done a great job as DC. We had a great finish to the season last year, and that momentum has carried into this year.  Our returning guys seem to be picking up right where they left off, and the newcomers or (returners with bigger roles) are making huge contributions. I was able to watch the first game of the season and was really impressed with how we played on both sides of the ball. It seems this team plays together and is full of competitors. I think the coaching staff has done a great job with the preparation, heading into this year. We have a competitive group of guys, and I think they have been waiting for this game for quite a while. I don't know much about Utah, They need to bounce back from a tough game in Logan, but I give the cougars the edge in this one. In my opinion, it will be a great game because these teams will not be playing for a while, so I'm eager to watch this one from online from Spain. I think BYU will win this one. I don't know about the score. If I had to choose, I would say 24-14 (BYU).

Chris Burgess (1999-2002)
First, I want to say how sad I am for Jordan Wynn and the way that his playing career has ended. No player deserves to go out that way.  On a personal level, although I was able to continue with basketball after college, I feel Jordan's pain to the extent of his collegiate career being cut short. In my 2 seasons at the U, I missed a total of 31 games due to injuries.  23 of those games coming my senior season after I tore my plantar fascia on ABC vs top ranked University of Texas in the Huntsman Center.  This injury came early on in the season and ultimately ended my college career. I feel for Jordan and not only want to thank him for what he's done at the U but wish him luck in the next chapter of his life.  

Now, I'm feeling a lot of pressure about this year's pick, especially after being the only one to call for the blow-out and Utah holding BYU to 10 points. Having just made the trip up to Cache Valley to see the Utes lose to a tough Utah State team, it's hard to be as confident about a win as I was last year. That said, Utah has to shore up their issues on the O-line, be able to hold onto the ball, and get to Riley Nelson. Being at home is our biggest advantage, and I'm looking for Utah to bounce back and hit BYU in the mouth. 24-17... A Utah Man am I!

PS: I'm not thrilled about Hays and Wilson named listed as co-starters. Pick one. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

BYU - Weber St. Predictions

Jake Welch (@jraywelch) (1-0)

As much as I would love for BYU to beat by an ungodly margin, Bronco Mendenhall made it pretty clear this week that won't happen on his watch. When asked about OkState''s shellacking of Savannah State, Bronco said that should never happen. That being said this will be a moderate drubbing of the Wildcats. Expect to see a very vanilla offense with a lot of running between the tackles. Here's to hoping that Taysom Hill and James Lark will be getting a good number of reps in garbage time, which should start sometime in the 3rd quarter. I'm really high on the defense after last weeks stellar performance but for some reason I foresee a trick play going the distance for Weber State. But they won't be getting much else as BYU rolls.

BYU 42, WSU 10

Scott Gower (@smg1981) (1-0)

This one won't be close. In fact, it is possible BYU might find a way to score even before the game officially starts. (Don't ask me how.) I don't want starters playing very much at all. If BYU is up by 35+ points, the backups need to come in. The next game is very important, and there is no sense in risking injuries players we need on the field to have a chance at beating Utah. I expect a lot of James Lark and Taysom Hill in the second half. The defense is great, but I don't know how much the starters will actually be playing, so I can't predict a shutout. In fact, I think Weber St. scores a touchdown, accomplishing something the Mike Leach-coached Washington State Cougars could not. 
Bronco didn't like the 84-0 OK St. win last weekend, but make no mistake about it, BYU will destroy Weber St. It just won't come close to 84-0.

BYU 56, Weber St. 7

Daniel Anderson (@d_anderson11) (1-0)

BYU 56, Weber State 17

Prediction? Pain.

Preston Johnson (@prestonvjohnson) (1-0)
YU 52, Weber St. 10I think BYU's defense will shut down Weber St. much like they did last week versus Washington St. I expect some second and third stringers to get a shot in the fourth quarter and see a Weber St. score late. As much as I would like to analyze this game further I think we all are just anxious for next week...

Zach Bloxham (@zbloxham)Weber State AlumWeber State improved measurably from the first half to the second half in its opening week game against Fresno State. It would be a boon to the FCS program to play one of its own in Week 2. Not so easy. Weber has the nigh impossible task of trying to beat BYU in order secure its first win against an FBS school since 1993. Not going to happen. BYU's offensive line was MEH in Week 1 against Washington State. Look for the BYU to run the ball and run the ball some more against the Weber State defensive front. Will the success be fool's gold? We will find out next week when BYU travels to Salt Lake City.

The BYU defense was absolutely tremendous against Washington State. With Weber's inability to run the ball against Fresno, and BYU's talented front seven, the Wildcats will have to wait until next week to find any semblance of an running game. Weber QB Mike Hoke is talented and may be able to make some plays between the 20's, but I just don't see tWSU finding an offensive groove on Saturday. Hoke will be under pressure all afternoon long. Weber State nearly (and should have) beaten both Wyoming and Colorado State over the past five years. Unfortunately for Weber fans, this Wildcat team is not as talented; and this BYU team is destined for a big year. Don't fret, Weber grads/fans, the check is already in the mail.

BYU 48, Weber St. 6