Utah should have some opportunities for big plays given how aggressive Bronco Mendenhall will likely be with his scheming. You saw a conservative approach against Weber, but look for Mendenhall to go back to what was so effective against Washington State — a variety of defensive looks and blitzes that kept the WSU offense off-balance.
Whether John Hays or Travis Wilson can take advantage of big-play opportunities certainly is in question, but look for Utah to beat BYU deep on a couple of occasions. Utah will attempt to test BYU in the flats with bubble screens and smoke screens — an area that BYU has historically been weak in defending. With very capable outside linebackers and cornerbacks, the Cougars should prove better able to defend laterally.
All signs point to a defensive struggle in this one. Utah’s defense is very talented and should rebound from its subpar performance last week, while BYU will field its most capable defensive unit since 1996. With question marks around both offensive attacks, this game should prove to be low-scoring and hard-hitting.
Look for BYU to bring a much better mentality to the field under quarterback Riley Nelson, which should lead to a close, hard-fought victory. Utah usually takes the field with the mental edge in these games, but look for the Cougars to bridge that gap this time around along with proving able to defend better against many of the plays that Utah has killed BYU with in the past.
Score: BYU 20, Utah 17
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