PROVO — Utah State will have a scrimmage against San Jose State, Utah should defeat Oregon despite some serious star injuries, and BYU must defeat UMass this weekend in local college football action.
The Aggies, fresh off a beatdown of Hawaii, are getting used to taking starters off the field before the fourth quarter. USU is beating MWC foes so badly, it’s embarrassing. This is a mark of a generational team in Logan. The Jordan Love-led offense is explosive, extremely consistent and a regional work of art.
I wish Utah State could play Utah, so there could be a significant measurement against a top-five defense in the Utes. It would provide some perspective on just how good Matt Wells’ team is this year.
There are a lot of BYU fans still hurting from the Aggies coming to Provo and defeating the Cougars in convincing fashion. Reality check, this is the best USU team in maybe four decades and the Cougars are changing quarterbacks in an independent-challenged front-loaded schedule.
The Aggies are pretty good because they are consistent. To beat USU, you have to chase points. USU has had 19 scoring drives that have lasted about 90 seconds this season. That is firepower.
The Utes took a major kick in the teeth at Arizona State when quarterback Tyler Huntley broke his collarbone, losing him for the season. Huntley and the Ute offense were finally finding a chemistry, putting it all together. Combine that with Morgan Scalley’s defense reaching national heights, everyone projected Utah to run through the rest of the season to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl, or at the least, to the Pac-12 championship game as divisional champion.
Then ASU happened and Huntley went down. Then, word came mid-week that Zack Moss, the pile driver running back, suffered what could be a season-ending injury in practice. What?
If there is a November jinx with Utah football, these two incidents of bad news stick out like a hex on steroids. Utah will have to undergo some growing pains with consistency in this setback, but there is enough evidence that the Utes can still beat an injury-plagued Oregon squad with its big-hit defense and great special teams play. I’m sticking with last week’s prediction of a Utah run, even with the setback in Tempe.
But, then, there’s Utah’s November history looming.
BYU is fresh off a game with Boise State that the Cougars should have won. A two-touchdown underdog against the Broncos, a mistake-filled Kalani Sitake team got to the finish line with a legitimate chance to become the first-ever Cougar team to walk out of Albertsons stadium with a win. All they needed was a made play.
In the aftermath of that failure, how will the Cougars, stumbling out of the fog of criticism and doubt, reload for a trip across the country and a mid-morning game against UMass?
Freshman quarterback Zach Wilson had tremendous numbers against Hawaii in Provo in his first start. UMass has a similar defense, especially when defending the pass. UMass is 115th in pass efficiency defense and 125th in rushing defense.
A year ago, with newbie Joe Critchlow, BYU elected to throw 45 times with Critchlow completing 21 of his attempts. He was intercepted four times and sacked seven times. That led to one of the most head-scratching losses of that four-win season because it should have been a gimme and it was at home.
Unlike Critchlow, Wilson has a little more experience at this stage. He does come off a seven-sack performance against Boise. That cannot happen if BYU is to do what is expected and get this win.
If BYU has indeed made some progress since switching quarterbacks, then it should beat UMass.
This week’s picks:
Utah 24, Oregon 21: Utah defense covers for injuries on O.
Ohio State 24, Michigan State 21: Buckeye defense steps up.
Penn State 27, Wisconsin 17: PSU adds to Badger ego drop.
Arizona State 28, UCLA 21: Devils put Bruins back in place.
Southern Cal 31, California 24: Trojans mark coastal territory.Comment on this story
Oklahoma 33, Oklahoma State 24: Big brother punks wannabe.
Washington State 38, Colorado 24: Mike Leach has a quote ready.
Utah State 58, San Jose State 21: Aggies are a machine.
Georgia Tech 31, Miami 27: Option makes Miami go cross-eyed.
Clemson 38, Boston College 28: Clemson is rolling.
Stanford 24, Oregon State 17: Cardinal players have it figured.
Middle Tennessee 31, UTEP 17: Miners can’t keep up.
Weber State 24, Southern Utah 21: Wildcats are smooth cats.
BYU 42, UMass 21: Cougars have backs to the wall.
Last week 9 for 14; overall 98 for 135 (.725)