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