Week 4 - Utah at BYU

Posted Sep 18, 2013

Week 4 Fearless Predictions & Preview - Utah at BYU

Utah (2-1) at BYU (1-1) Sept. 21, 10:15, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: It's the 89th edition of the Holy War, one of the most anticipated annual events, athletic and otherwise, in the Beehive State. Conferences and circumstances may change, but this remains one of the most spirited rivalries in college football.

When last seen two weeks ago, BYU was throttling Texas, 40-21, in an epic performance that made Mack Brown's job security a topic of national debate. The Cougars dismantled a ranked opponent as if they plan on having BCS bowl aspirations. However, this is the same squad that lost to Virginia in the opener, so the book is still very much out on Bronco Mendenhall's team.

While it's never hard getting emotionally ready for a trip to Provo, Utah might have a difficult time clearing its head following last week's heartbreaking overtime loss to Oregon State, 51-48. The Utes churned out more than enough offense to win, but their D failed to make stops when necessary. It was a rude awakening at home for a team that was just beginning to build some confidence.
Why Utah Might Win: The offense has been transformed, largely due to the arrival of venerable assistant Dennis Erickson. The Utes are averaging nearly 50 points a game, spewing out balance for opposing defenses to try and stop. QB Travis Wilson is quickly emerging into a star, a 6-7 playmaker with five touchdown runs and seven touchdown passes. The sophomore is getting lots of help from James Poole on the ground and Dres Anderson and Sean Fitzgerald through the air. This attack will keep getting better the longer Erickson is around to guide it.
Why BYU Might Win: Whatever Utah does on offense, BYU is capable of matching. Taysom Hill is the Cougars' version of Wilson, a big pile-driver who accounted for 259 of his team's 550 rushing yards versus the Longhorns. BYU can attack with backs Jamaal Williams and Paul Lasike, and Cody Hoffman, the best wide receiver in LaVell Edwards Stadium this weekend. The Cougar O-line absolutely dominated Texas in Provo, obliterating a more talented unit at the point of attack.
Who To Watch Out For: Which team's defensive star will make the tempo-changing play in a game that'll be dictated by the offenses, BYU LB Kyle Van Noy or Utah ‘Stud" LB Trevor Reilly. Both are versatile defenders who love to rush the passer, but can also fall back into coverage.

- The Utes will be facing a stronger Hoffman this Saturday night. He missed the opener with a hammy injury, and he wasn't quite 100% versus Texas. CB Keith McGill has the 6-3, 205-pound frame to match up physically with Hoffman, but that doesn't mean he can shut him down.

- BYU's task on defense just got a bit tougher. Senior starting LB Spencer Hadley has been suspended for a violation of the school's honor code, leaving a hole on the second level of the D.

- After seeing how Utah got abused through the air by Oregon State's Sean Mannion, the Cougars might want to drop Hill back a few more times this week.
What Will Happen: For intensity, excitement and general drama, no Week 4 matchup will be more compelling than this one in Provo. Not much separates Utah and BYU, in distance or talent level. Hill and Wilson will not disappoint in the battle of the Collin Klein knock-offs, driving their teams from end to end. It could be a last-team-with-the-ball kind of deal, with Hill and Williams spearheading the game-winning drive in front of an ebullient home crowd.
Prediction: BYU 37 … Utah 35
Line: BYU -7 o/u: 60.5
Must See Rating: (5 The Presidents' Gatekeepers - 1 Million Second Quiz) … 3.5