2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - BYU at Ole Miss
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Sept. 3 BYU 14 … at Ole Miss 13
CFN Analysis: This wasn’t exactly the way BYU might have wanted to draw it up, but it’ll take it. The defense did a terrific job of holding up against an Ole Miss offense that didn’t do much to push the ball down the field, and when everything was on the line late, the big plays were made. Jake Heaps had a decent day throwing the ball, and he was able to move the chains, but the Cougars couldn’t turn the time cranked off the clock into points. The ground game was nowhere to be found and the offensive line didn’t generate enough of a push, but it’s not like there’s time to figure out how to do more with Texas and Utah up next. In the first game as an independent, the Cougars will happily take a road win over an SEC team, no matter how it comes.
The Rebels simply need to open things up a bit more. They didn’t do anything to let QB Barry Brunetti turn it loose as he completed just 2-of-3 passes for four yards and ran just three times for 13 yards. The offense went nowhere against the Cougars and was miserable at trying to run the ball. The O line is supposed to be among the best in the SEC, but it couldn’t generate any semblance of a push with the ground game averaging just 2.2 yards per try and 64 yards total. Then, with the offense needing to close the game out, instead BYU’s defense took over late. With Southern Illinois and Vanderbilt up next, the offense has to find something that works before facing Georgia.
(AP) OXFORD, Miss. -- Linebacker Kyle Van Noy recovered a fumble in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown as BYU came back to beat Mississippi 14-13 Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
BYU trailed 13-0 early in the fourth quarter, but Jake Heaps hit Ross Apo for a 19-yard touchdown with 9:52 remaining to pull within 13-7. Less than five minutes later, BYU's defensive pressure forced Ole Miss quarterback Zack Stoudt to fumble, and Van Noy jumped on the football to cap a stunning comeback.
Ole Miss led 3-0 at halftime and stretched it to 10-0 with 8:34 left in the third quarter on a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown by Charles Sawyer.
BYU won its first game as an independent after leaving the Mountain West Conference last year. Heaps completed 24 of 38 passes for 225 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Cougars outgained the Rebels 318-208.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt had said that he hoped Saturday's game would be played in stifling heat and humidity since BYU comes from a more arid climate. But with Tropical Storm Lee looming, the weather was relatively pleasant, with highs in the 80s and overcast skies.
The first half was full of punts, defense and missed opportunities. BYU gained just 102 yards while Ole Miss managed just 93. Bryson Rose kicked a 20-yard field goal with 49 seconds left in the first half to give the Rebels a 3-0 halftime lead.
Ole Miss sophomore Barry Brunetti started at quarterback, but the Rebels couldn't do much with him under center. Part of that was because of an extremely conservative approach. Brunetti completed 2 of 3 passes for four yards before being pulled for Stoudt late in the second quarter.
Stoudt's presence immediately energized the Rebels. The 6-foot-4, 217-pound junior completed two passes for a combined 21 yards on his first drive, which ended in Rose's field goal just before the half. Stoudt finished 13 of 25 passing for 140 yards, but the crucial fumble is what most will remember.
But the Rebels really didn't get going until Sawyer's interception, which stretched the lead to 10-0 and was the program's longest interception return for a touchdown since 2007. Another Rose field goal stretched the Rebels' lead to 13-0 early in the fourth quarter and the program looked well on its way to a much-needed quality win after a dismal 4-8 season in 2010.
BYU had other ideas.
The Cougars kept pounding away, with a 69-57 advantage in offensive plays. By the fourth quarter, the Rebels' defense looked gassed, and didn't have an answer for the BYU offense. JJ Di Luigi rushed for 56 yards and also caught four passes for 32 yards.
But the biggest play was Stoudt's fumble. Three BYU defenders converged on Stoudt, slamming him to the turf as the ball popped loose. Van Noy took advantage of the opportunity, pouncing on the bouncing ball to lead the Cougars to the victory.
BYU (0-0) vs.
Ole Miss (0-0) Sept. 3, 4:45 ESPN
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Here’s The Deal … Welcome to your new life on your own, BYU.
It’s the independent world for BYU, and this is the big chance to get off to a splashy start to show that 2010 might have been nothing more than a rebuilding year and that things are about to quickly change. The Cougars were rebuilding last season, and now they’re experienced. They threw a young true freshman quarterback to the wolves, and now he’s a veteran. They struggled and sputtered though the Mountain West world, and now the program has the attitude that it’s about to blossom and become a bigger national figure. Beat SEC teams, and that respect starts to come.
BYU might have had a disappointing year, but it finished 7-6 with a bowl win. Ole Miss had a tremendously disastrous season, finishing 4-8, and this might turn out to be the tone setter with a slew of nasty games down the road. Head coach Houston Nutt has a stronger team with enough explosion to get back to among the living, and after losing six of the final seven games, and finishing 1-7 in SEC play, his Rebels need to start out with something positive.
With Southern Illinois and Vanderbilt coming up, there’s a good chance to jump out to 3-0 before hosting Georgia. Basically, with winnable games against Kentucky, Fresno State, and Louisiana Tech ahead, not including any possibly upsets against the big boys, it’s not a stretch to say that a win over BYU will probably finish with a winning record.
The Cougars have to follow up this tough road game with a date at Texas, a rivalry game against Utah, and a battle against defending Conference USA champion UCF. Things ease up but there are still games against Oregon State and TCU down the road, and if the Cougars can pull this off, they really might be on their way to a huge season.
Why BYU Might Win: The Ole Miss pass defense could be a problem. The secondary was last in the SEC in pass efficiency defense and was 103rd in the nation in yards allowed, but with more experience compared to last year, there’s reasonable hope for a big turnaround if some of the new players can shine right away. BYU should be far sharper offensively and quarterback Jake Heaps should be far more poised and far better at reading defenses this year. If he gets time against the good Rebel pass rush, he and the polished, big receiving corps should be able to move the ball through the air.
The Ole Miss passing game is a question mark with an untested starting quarterback and green receivers who have to show they can play. The team’s top target last year, Melvin Harris, has had back problems and might not be in the mix against the Cougars, while tight end Ferbia Allen has a knee problem and will be limited if he’s able to play. If the Rebels aren’t running well, they’re going to have problems.
Why Ole Miss Might Win: Is the BYU defensive front ready to get pounded on? There’s experience to go along with a slew of decent players, but the overall talent level isn’t anything special with top pass rusher Vic So’oto gone. The Cougars will throw waves of players into the rotation to make sure everyone is fresh, but it might not matter against an Ole Miss offensive line that might be among the best in the nation. There wasn’t much of a Cougar pass rush last year, and while it’ll try to manufacture more of one this year, and the linebacking corps will be ultra-aggressive, it might not be enough. The Rebel tackles were terrific in pass protection last year and should give the new starting quarterback Barry Brunetti as much time as he needs. The big key will be the running game, with Ole Miss certain to pound away with its excellent slew of backs and the mobile Brunetti. Ball control might be in the Rebels’ favor.
What To Watch Out For: Is Brunetti ready for the job? Ole Miss loves its quarterback transfers, from Brent Schaeffer to Jevan Snead to Jeremiah Masoli, the offense will take the retreads with the hope of getting some steady play and leadership. Randall Mackey was deep in the hunt for the job before getting suspended after getting arrested in a bar fight. He’s out for the season opener and Brunetti, the former West Virginia Mountaineer, will get the chance. An Elite 11 high school prospect, he has a great combination of running skills and passing accuracy. Only 6-0 and 213 pounds, he’s not all that big, but he’s a pure baller with tremendous upside.
The most interesting matchup will be when Ole Miss defensive ends Kentrell Lockett and Wayne Dorsey go against BYU offensive tackle Matt Reynolds. Dorsey is the team’s top end after making 12 tackles with a sack and four tackles for loss in a disappointing 2010. With size, speed, and moves the one-time star JUCO transfer has all the tools, while Lockett is back after suffering a torn ACL. They’ll take turns going against the 6-6, 322-pound Reynolds, a two-time All-Mountain West talent who could’ve gone pro early but is back as one of the nation’s best anchors.
What Will Happen: This won't be the BYU of last year. Will it
be the BYU that knocked out Sam Bradford and shocked
Oklahoma in the 2009 opener? It might not be all
that far off. The difference will be Heaps, who
turned into a strong passer by the end of last year
throwing for 228 yards or more in each of the last
five games. He'll get hit a bit too much, but he'll
also come up with enough good plays as the Cougars
will get up early and will come up with enough big
defensive plays to hang on for a fifth straight
Opening Day win.
CFN Prediction: BYU 24 ... Ole Miss 20
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