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.


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  2. Hey Jake, don't you know that the teams wear home colors every year now? So BYU will be in blue. So BYU wins. Perfect.