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