NCAA Football – Week 3
They aren’t many rivalries as bitter as the BYU vs. Utah rivalry in college football. These two teams definitely have respect for each other, but they also love nothing more than beating each other. Both teams have good young coaches and they appear to be on the rise. Last year, Utah thumped BYU 54-10 as a four-point road underdog. It was a result that very few people saw coming. BYU looks for some serious revenge this Saturday night in Salt Lake City.
BYU has come a long ways from this time a year ago. The Cougars have won their last six games dating back to last year. Riley Nelson is playing very well at the quarterback spot, and the Cougars have a much more balanced offense than they had last year. Nelson is completing 66.2% of his passes so far this season. Michael Alisa has turned into a solid running back for the team, and the offensive line has turned into a real strength.
While the offense is better, the most impressive part of the BYU team right now is definitely the defense. The Cougars absolutely shut down Mike Leach and the Washington State offense in week one. Overall, BYU ranks tenth in the nation in yards allowed and points per game allowed. Opponents are averaging just 55 rushing yards per game against this group. Ten of the players on this year’s defense have extensive starting experience. Kyle Van Noy is the leader of this defense from his linebacker spot. Expect this unit to be great all year.
Utah took a major hit when Jordan Wynn went down with a shoulder injury last week. Wynn injured the same shoulder last year, and after last week’s game Wynn decided to retire from the game of football for good. Jon Hays will likely get most of the playing time at quarterback with Wynn out of the lineup, but the Utes will definitely miss Wynn’s presence under center. Devonte Christopher gives Utah the best wide receiver this program has seen in many years. John White IV is a solid runner. The biggest problem for the Utah offense is the offensive line isn’t as good as is usually the base at Utah.
The Utes defensively has a real superstar on the defensive line. Star Lotulelei will likely be a first-round draft pick in the NFL after this year. Lotulelei is a tremendous run stuffer, and the opposition must double-team him on almost every play. The secondary is a major strength as well, but Brian Blechen will miss this game due to a suspension. Overall, Utah has the 11th best defense in terms of total yards allowed so far this season.
It isn’t easy to win at Utah, and I think the Utes will play inspired football this week after a disappointing loss to Utah State a week ago. BYU will be extremely fired up after last year’s debacle at home. The defenses should control this game.
BYU 20 Utah 17