Utah will defeat Colorado, BYU needs a win at Hawaii and you can expect Utah State to manage a victory over Air Force this Saturday.
One of the dumbest thoughts swirling around the state the past few weeks is that Kyle Whittingham should be fired. The Whittingham (Fred and Kyle) influence since the early '90s is one of the biggest reasons the Utah program has become known for its tough physical play, a springboard to Pac-12 membership and that Sugar Bowl win.
The Utes need a win over Colorado on Saturday to become bowl eligible. At home, on Senior Night, after a near win at Washington, they’ve got this. Although the Utes have lost a lot of league games, the fact is, they’ve been closer than the losses Colorado has had to the same opponents.
Case in point is the most recent game. Utah had a last-second loss at Washington. Colorado lost to the Huskies by 27. In fact, the Utes' losses to the Huskies, USC, Washington State and Stanford have been by a combined 15 points.
Conversely, the Buffs lost to the Trojans by 14 and lost to Washington State and Washington by a combined 55, for an average of 27. Colorado can only beat Utah if the Utes turn the ball over six times.
Over in Hawaii, BYU is taking to the Islands one of the worst offenses in the country with a freshman walk-on quarterback Joe Critchlow. However, they’ll face one of the worst defenses in the country when they play the Rainbow Warriors.
Thing is, in Hawaii, the Warriors play BYU very tough like it is the end of the world and they’re the leaders in a footrace for the last roasted pig.
The Rainbows will hit BYU’s defense with a solid run attack. The Cougars will need to run the ball to take pressure off Critchlow and not make him have to beat them with his arm.
They’ll have to do it without the services of KJ Hall, who suffered an ACL tear on his last carry against UMass. They’ll have to do it without Trey Dye, who has been out most of the season, and without Ulu Tolutau who was suspended. They’ve been without freshman Kavika Fonua (back injury) most the season.
While BYU’s staff has been reticent to use Riley Burt this season, they may have to ride the legs of Squally Canada and mix in some action by converted quarterback 3
If this sounds like a revamped challenge for offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, it is all that. A week ago in Provo the Cougars got a crack at UMass, a defense that had struggled all season just like Hawaii, and managed just 10 points in a turnover-and-sack-plagued display of disparity.
Hawaii’s offense has struggled along with its defense and did not score against Utah State in Logan last week. But Hawaii has scored at least 21 points in 11 games this season. That should scare BYU’s coaching staff, which really needs to leave that rock in the sea with a win.
I’ve been to enough BYU-Hawaii games at Aloha Stadium to attest to the drama Hawaii can cause any BYU team, including the one Detmer had the day he won the Heisman Trophy in 1990 (a 59-28 loss) and the night in 2001 when a 12-0 and No. 8 Brandon Doman-led BYU team lost 72-45. The Hawaii QB that night was current Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich.
At AFA, I’d expect the Aggies to come out fighting, take some punches from Air Force and their storied option offense, but survive with superior athletic play in skill positions and a better offensive and defensive line.
Now, on to this week’s picks:
Auburn 28, Alabama 27: Upset of the week on a fluke play.
Clemson 28, South Carolina 21: Clemson has six wins over bowl teams.
Oklahoma 37, West Virginia 31: Sooners anxious to prove mettle.
Wisconsin 27, Minnesota 21: Badgers best in Big Ten?
Stanford 24, Notre Dame 21: Cardinal special teams play makes the difference.
Washington 28, Washington State 24: Can’t be one-dimensional against Huskies.
Boise State 28, Fresno State 21: Bronco wins in solid work-like fashion.
Arizona 42, Arizona State 42, Arizona 31: Devils win track meet.
Ohio State 27, Michigan 17: Wolverines to be embarrassed.
Oregon 47, Oregon State 24: Aside from Stanford, Beaver pelts are easy to skin.
Utah 27, Colorado 24: Utah becomes bowl eligible.
Utah State 24, Air Force 21: Aggies pass over Falcons.
BYU 21, Hawaii 17: How much pride will Cougars place on the altar?
Last week 11-3; Overall 100-46 (.684)