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National media predictions for Saturday’s Utah-BYU game: Experts anticipating a close contest

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 1 2015 12:40 a.m. MDT

Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson (7) is sacked by Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) in Salt Lake City  Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson (7) is sacked by Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) in Salt Lake City Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

The wait is almost over. After an unforgettable game last year, the Utes and the Cougars look to do it again one last time before taking a two-year break and resuming play again in 2016.

Just when you think you’ve seen everything in the rivalry, something unique takes place that fans, players and coaches will remember for the rest of their lives.

This was evident last year in a bizarre turn of events in which Utah fans prematurely rushed the field, almost costing the Utes a victory. The fans were given an unsportsmanlike penalty, which gave BYU yet another shot to send the game into overtime. The Utes ended up prevailing 24-21. After the game, Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham said, “Where do I begin? We should be 4-1 because we won this game three times."

So what do we have for an encore this year? Media members from across the nation have given their predictions on the game and what they think will happen this Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Jerry Hinnen, a college football writer for CBS Sports.com, talked about the rivalry to DJ and PK earlier this week on 1280 The Zone. Hinnen said that he likes Utah in this game because he says the Utes have more of a balance on offense than the Cougars do. “BYU looked good against Texas, but that defense is in absolute shambles right now,” he said. Hinnen believes the recent play of Travis Wilson gives the Utes a slight edge in this game. “It will be close one way or the other, but looking at it right now, I like the Ute’s balance on offense.”

ESPN.com Pac-12 bloggers believe a close game is in the works. Ted Miller believes that BYU has a couple of things in its favor. First, BYU is playing at home and is coming off a bye week. The other thing in BYU’s favor is that Utah lost an emotional home game to Oregon State last weekend. Miller believes the Cougars will win this game 28-24.

However, fellow Pac-12 blogger Kevin Gemmell predicts a Ute win despite a rowdy atmosphere at LaVell Edwards Stadium. “My usual approach in this situation is to take the home team. But this Utah team is a lot more explosive than previous editions. I see points and another tight finish,” he said. He predicts Utah will win, 38-35.

Athlon Sports did not say who it thinks will win the rivalry game but did mention who it believes will be the key players to watch. It says it will all come down to Kyle Van Noy vs. Travis Wilson.

Athlon Sports predicts that if Utah has any chance to pull off an upset in Provo, Wilson is going to have to be dynamic and keep the high-powered offense rolling. That will be a challenge this week as Van Noy leads a solid Cougar defense. Van Noy is leading the Cougars in tackles for a loss (4.5) and has one sack in two games. Both players have elite physical ability and could be meeting in the open field all game long.

According to Fox Sports and ESPN, BYU is favored by 6.5 and 7 points respectively. The game will be televised at 8:15 p.m. MDT, ESPN2. Those traveling during the game can listen to KSL 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, as well as ESPN700 AM, Sirius 139 and XM 198.

Justin Giles is a recent graduate of the University of Utah. EMAIL: justingiles22@gmail.com

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