There have been a few close games with Utah State over the years. I remember as a teenager in 1993, coming home from a production of Saturday’s Warrior with my parents and listening to Paul James call the second half of the 58-56 shootout (as the game was not on local TV). Then in 2002 while living and working in Dallas, driving up to Denton with my brother, where there was a high spot in a Waffle House parking lot where we could pick up KSL on the car radio (as there was no Mtn or Slingbox ) and listened to the biggest comeback in Cougar history and Curtis Brown’s coming out party as BYU won 35-34. Despite those two close games, BYU has dominated this series for the last 30 years and it is unlikely that the outcome tonight will be any different. However, there are always a few things to watch for in how they win, that will reveal how much the team has improved over last week. There are also a few things to watch for just to keep it interesting.
• Will Max Hall avoid throwing an interception? With 8 toss-aways Hall has more picks than any other quarterback in the country right now, and has thrown a pick for 7 straight games.
• Will Jan Jorgensen get a sack? He does a good job and is often double teamed, but hopefully he can avoid the Fresno State syndrome (all hype, no results) and get the sack monkey off his back.
• Can we manage to keep the ball for 30 minutes or longer? A lopsided time of possession has demoralized our defense in both of the last two games, and is primarily a function of allowing the other team to get long sustained, chip-away-at-us drives. Utah State has a potent offense but an equally impotent defense. The Cougs need to keep them off the field. Watch to see if the 3-and-out defense from the OU and Tulane games makes an appearance.
• Will there be a special teams or defensive touchdown? The Utah State game has traditionally been a game where the non-offensive players add to their scoring stats.
• Can the offense score a touchdown in all four quarters? After failing to score a TD in the first quarter in any of the first three games, last week the team made up for that by scoring three… and then promptly dozing off during the second quarter.
• Will we get to see more balls thrown to Spencer Hafoka? After an exciting 24 yard touchdown catch and run near the end of the CSU game that included a bit of fancy footwork, fans would like to see more of him.
• Will Riley Nelson see the game? As a much discussed USU transfer, it would be nice to see him get into the game. And, Bronco reaffirmed this week that he would still like to see Nelson get 10-12 quarters of work this season. Since he only has two with 8 games remaining, he is going to have to start inserting him more than in mop-up duty. And while there is mop-up-duty potential this week, Bronco also stated that he would insert him regardless of the game situation (read: doesn’t need to be a blowout).
• How many passes will be thrown at Brian Logan? He is third in the country in passes defended with 9 and fist overall in the nation in passes broken up with 7. A nice JC addition for BYU.
• Will Riley Stephenson ever have to punt and if so will he be able to stay #1 in the country in net punting yards?
• Will the USU fans in attendance be able to come up with any witty, clever, or jabbing signs, chants, or t-shirts for the home team? USU fans have developed a bit of a personality to make up for their shortcomings in other areas (victories) and have become quite adept at it. Remember last year when they chanted overrated as the clock ticked off on a 20 point loss?
• Finally, can Oklahoma beat Miami and solve our transitive property strength of schedule issues? Miami beat FSU who beat BYU who beat Oklahoma who beat Miami???
I think the offense will find their rhythm, move the ball well and score a lot of points, against a defense that has no answer for them. The Cougar defense will be solid at times, but in the end will give up a lot of yards and more points than they should to the Aggies. Final score BYU 47 USU 27.
Feel free to add your own predictions and things you are watching for in the comments section below.