#14 (10-1)#7 (11-0)
This game is high definition if you are unaware, so great news since I am unable to be at the game. Everyone within the rivalry knows how nasty this can get between the fans, and the all the cliches are there with the church versus state and all that. This is as heated as Michigan/Ohio State, Texas/Texas A&M, Alabama/ Auburn, and others just not on the national scene.
Quick note as well is that this game is not being simulcasted as it has been in the past so the game is NOT on Versus and NOT on CBS College Sports, but only on the Mtn. So, unless you have your DirecTv guy installing tomorrow morning head out to a friend who has the station, order the sports pack from DirecTv to get the game, or find a local establishment to watch the game.
On to the preview, I will not bore the reader with stats, because both teams are pretty even in point production and with BYU it is thier offense which puts up more yards, but the Utes defense helps in scoring as well.
To start at the top with the quarterback position BYU's Max Hall is the better deep passer and more polished in slinging the ball around, if he is given time. Utah's Brian Johnson is good because he has finally started to run the option with force, and while his arm is not as strong can get the pass to the receiver. Also, if the game is on the line Brian Johnson is who I would want at quarterback, so far on the year he has won three games in the final minutes against Air Force, Oregon State, and TCU.
The Utes need Brian Johnson to play like he did against TCU with no turnovers if possible, but if he starts turning over the ball multiple times then BYU should be able to win comfortably.
The Utah running game of Matt Asiata, Darrell Mack, Eddie Wide, Brian Johnson, Corbin Louks and on occasion wide out Brent Casteel will be tough for BYU to defend. This rushing attack is similar to TCU who was able to run for five to seven yards a carry with bigger games all night, when the two played earlier in the year.
BYU's secondary is not the strongest part, so look for BYU to not be able to put seven or eight guys up in the box to stop the run, because once the Cougar defensive backs and linebackers inch closers is when the Utes will use their run/pass option to throw the ball.
Look for Utah to run a lot of bubble screens and quick slant routes since the BYU secondary typically plays at least six yards or more off the line of scrimmage. This could be a cat and mouse game with the BYU secondary coverage to see if they will mix it up with zone coverage to disguise what they are running.
Last year the same was said about BYU's secondary when they played second and third string players and they did fine, so the Utes should not underestimate the BYU secondary.
On offense for BYU they can score points and if Dennis Pitta is healthy at tight end that can only help BYU spread the ball between Austin Collie, and Pitta . The key thing BYU needs is for their offensive line to hold off Ute lineman Paul Kruger and others, because that matchup is the biggest mismatch of the game. With time Max Hall will be able to find Collie and others, but if it is anything like the TCU game where Hall was sacked six times and threw picks and fumbled BYU will be in trouble.
A problem BYU has on offense is that while their playmakers are very good, the play calling is predictable. The offense runs the same plays Harvey Unga runs up the middle, Austin Collie does a double fake but goes deep nearly every play, and Dennis Pitta does an in route to the middle of the field. Being predictable is what hurt them against TCU. BYU must mix up the plays and routes they run and they can be successful in Saturday's game.
Special teams is huge and Utah has the edge here with Louie Sakoda who punts and kicks field goals, and there have been many times where he has pinned teams inside the five to give the field position edge to Utah, and Sakoda has made eight of ten from 40 yards or more. Also, the Utes have had success in the punt return game and look for a few big returns.
BYU will give Utah very few if any chances to return kickoffs with Justin Sorensen who kicks the ball outside of the field on most kick offs.
This is the best record between the two teams at 21-1 entering the Holy War and if the last three are any indication do not leave this game.
Final Score: Utah 27 BYU 20